Nov 292013

This is a question I’ve heard a number of times in my life. Two Christians are talking, and want to understand each other’s church or theological traditions. So they ask a very natural question: ‘What is your church like?’

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 08.16.21

I think there is a problem with this question though.

As an aside, it can sometimes be an unfair question, because by learning about someone’s church you don’t always learn about them. A lot of people are part of churches that don’t reflect their own theological convictions for a whole variety of good reasons – commitment to their local church and community, a calling to be an instrument for chance, respect and love for a family member… But, that’s an aside.

The answers are wrong

My real problem isn’t with the question itself – ‘What is your church like?’ – but with the answers we can expect to get when we hear it.

Go on. Try it. If you’re a Christian who’s part of a church, try to describe in a sentence or two. Please. Now. Go on, have a go.

Did you do it? Or just keep reading? That’s very naughty. I’ll give you another chance. Try now.

If you did (I know some still won’t!), what sorts of things did you describe. The answers I hear to that question tend to rely heavily wither on (1) denominational – or other – labels, which I don’t think are helpful for the way we end up viewing ourselves, or on (2) structures and activities. I could describe my church in these two ways:

  1. Gold Hill is a large, evangelical Baptist church which is – broadly speaking – conservative theologically and with a charismatic expression of worship.
  2. Gold Hill has three main meetings on a Sunday, one midweek on a Thursday, an array of small groups and a whole host of different ministries.

But do those answers really tell you about my church? The first one is a description that’s more likely to divide than unite (“Hmmm, not sure I like all of those labels myself…”), and the second describes the programmes but not the lifeblood or heartbeat of the church. I suppose a third would be to describe the building.

Tell me who you ARE!

We can get very hung up on structures, labels, formats, activities, building and all sorts of other peripheral things. The thing is, these either describe what we do, or what we are NOT like. But I want to know who you are! And the truth is, structures aren’t what matter the most. In a recent blog post on his brilliant site, Jeremy Myers wrote this:

I don’t think God cares too much which church model we use, house church, mega church, liturgical church, or free-for-all charismatic church.

And I think he is right. There are deeper concerns than what we do at services and what wider bodies we belong to.

Better descriptions of churches are about what the church is committed to, what our priorities are, what our goals, hope and dreams are. What is our vision. Service styles come and go. Leaders come and go. But what is the vision, heart and pulse of a church?

Finding the words

Gold Hill has a vision statement. Gold Hill is seeking to be an authentic Christ-like community, encountering God, making disciples and transforming the world. I can tell you that without telling you about what sorts of songs we sing, whether we sing songs at all, or a whole host of other things we often deem more important than they are.

We also have values. In all we say and do, we seek to be generous, Spirit-led, missional, biblical, courageous, welcoming, prayerful and loving. Again, no mention of structures.

I tell you that not to glorify Gold Hill. I’m sure we often define ourselves too much by our affiliations, size or structures, but I’ve found having another way to describe us very useful indeed. It may be that finding words yourself or for your church would be useful for you, too.

Now, when people ask what my church is like, I try very hard to start with WHO we are, not WHAT we do.

So, let’s go again: what is your church like?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

Nov 232013

This morning, Mel and I went with two friends and scattered some of Ralph’s ashes in a field he loved. Ralph was our dog who, a few weeks ago, was hit by a train and killed.


Ralph was a huge blessing to us, bringing us a lot of joy. But he also taught me a lot. The Bible seems pretty clear that God reveals Himself and His nature through creation, so we should take time to read creation and see what it’s telling us. Ralph was a part of God’s wonderful creation, and he certainly taught me a thing or two. These are a few of the many things that Ralph taught me.

Everything is awesome!

Nothing wasn’t awesome to Ralph. Everything was his favourite thing. No matter how annoying a person might seem to other people, Ralph loved them. No matter what the weather Ralph loved being outside. No matter what was going on in the world, Ralph was excited about every new day. I won’t claim he saw each new day as a ‘gift from God’, but he certainly thought each new day was a new adventure waiting to happen. That’s something that’s worth remembering. No matter what’s going on, each day is an opportunity, a gift.

Just being there counts

Ralph couldn’t talk, obviously. Sure, we often pretended to talk on his behalf and imagined his perspective on life. But in reality, he could not talk. He couldn’t fix problems. He couldn’t really change what was going on. But in the times when things were tougher, how much of a blessing it was to have him around! Just having him there, present, as our companion made the world of difference. God is present, even if it doesn’t feel as though that changes things sometimes, and that in itself matters. But Ralph has taught me that the ‘ministry of being there’ is an important one.

IMG_0701Nature is there to be enjoyed

I’m not naturally an outdoors person. I like my creature comforts. I like walls and warmth and sofas and kettles. But walking with Ralph, seeing him enjoy every tree, every field, every river, it was hard not to enjoy those things a little more myself. Creation is a big and beautiful and wonderful place that God has given us to look after and to enjoy. Seeing that through Ralph’s eyes has helped me start seeing it through my own.

Do what you love!

Ralph was focused. He was focused on food, on walks, on people and on dogs. He was focused on them because he loved them. They were his favourite things. Why on earth would you spend lots of energy forcing yourself to do something that you didn’t love? I know that being a human is more complicated than that – I have responsibilities he didn’t, and it’s right I invest in them. But Ralph got the very most out of life by pursuing everything he loved. God has given us passions, personalities and desires. So let’s pursue what we love!

What to do when you fall

There was a time Ralph had a HUGE thorn in his paw. It was about two inches long and was stuck in a long way. What did Ralph do? He ran around anyway! He once got pretty badly bitten by a dog. What did he do? He spent the next hour playing happily with his new best friend. He wasn’t a fan of baths. What did he do? Tolerate it and then celebrate the bath was over (mostly shaking, rolling and running), instead of being bitter about the bath. When he fell, he got straight back up again, and he moved on. What a way to live!

Don’t be a hater

This is closely linked to ‘Everything is awesome!’ above. Ralph loved everyone. There isn’t a single person he ever met that he didn’t love and want to be best friends with. Even people who I find it hard to love. The idea of rejecting a person or holding things against them was a completely foreign idea to him. Why would you when there are probably so many awesome things about them? I admired and respected that. Good boy, Ralph.

This is a prayer I wrote and that we prayed before we scattered his ashes this morning:

Thank you, God, for Ralph.
Thank you for the joy he brought us, the lessons he taught us and the time he had with us.
We feel it was far too short, but every day of our adventure with Ralph was such a blessing, and every blessing – every good thing – comes from You.
Thank you for the gift of Ralph, our furry and enthusiastic little friend and companion.
Thank you, God, for Ralph.

(Our full goodbye, written by Mel, is over on her blog. Click here.)

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

Do you get lost in the Old Testament?

Nov 212013

The Bible is a big and complicated book. Or is it just me? If you’ve ever found the Old Testament particularly hard to read or navigate, I may have something that can help you out…

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

From my experience, we Christians can be a lot more familiar with the New Testament than the Old Testament, and one of the reasons is that more happens in the Old Testament. I mean more years of history are covered, more events happen, more people are involved, there are more big changes, more small changes, more everything!

When I started university (and Biblical studies in particular), I realised how unfamiliar with the Old Testament I was. I knew some of the stories, but I had little to no idea how it all fitted together. But context is so crucial. Knowing how an individual story or passage fits into the big story of the Bible’s history is vital if we want to understand that story or passage properly.

I had to get to grips with when and why Israel had kings, when the judges arrived (and who they were!), what the exile was all about, and countless other things. And then which books in the Bible told each of those stories. It is nearly impossible to understand the theological significance of any of the Old Testament without getting an idea of the big picture.

My gift to you!

In light of all this, when I was planning to lead a session for our interns at Gold Hill on Old Testament history, I thought they might find it useful if someone put together a crib sheet for them. So I did! This is the sort of thing I wish I’d been given to help me start to make sense of the whole Old Testament thing a number of years ago.

And since I suspect it isn’t just me that can find navigating the Old Testament tricky, I thought I’d put it up here too.

It’s very simple. It breaks down Old Testament History into 8 sections. Each marks a distinct period in the history of God’s people. And then within each one, I list the Biblical books that are part of it. For each book, I give a (very) brief outline of the book. For any given chapter of the Bible, you should therefore see how it fits into a section, and into the whole story. I should note that this isn’t THE definitive and correct way of breaking up Old Testament history – but it has helped me get my head around things a little more.

[Edit: since posting, it’s been pointed out (by my Dad – see below!) that I’ve missed out lots of books. This was deliberate! This is only an overview of the historical/narrative books of the Old Testament, and misses out the prophets, and the ‘writings’ (Job – Song of Songs). They may well be the subject of another post. Thanks Dad!]

Feel free to use, ignore, print and keep until needed, distribute, scribble on, deface or use as a dart board – whatever you like! If even one person finds it useful once in getting to grips with the Old Testament, it will have been worth posting.


Genesis 1–11: Creation (chs 1–2), fall (chs 3–5), the flood (chs 6–10), the tower of Babel (ch11). God creates, sustains and cares. Humanity rebels and rejects.


Genesis 12-50: God calls Abraham (chs 12–23), and through him Isaac (chs 24–26), Jacob (chs 27–36) and his children to be his agents in the world, makes a covenant with them and requires obedience. Through Joseph, they end up in Egypt (chs 37–50).


Exodus: God leads Israel out of Egypt through Moses (chs 1–15), and sustains them as they journey to Mt. Sinai (chs 16–18) where He instructs them how to be His chosen people (chs 19–24) and gives them instructions for worship as they travel (chs 25–40).
Leviticus: God gives instruction to His people. The call is to be holy as God is holy, which includes laws on sacrifice (chs 1–7), the beginnings of the priesthood (chs 8–10), how to deal with uncleanness (chs 11–16) and practical guidelines for holiness (chs 17-27). The climax is the details about the annual Day of Atonement festival in chapter 16.
Numbers: The journey from Sinai (chs 1–10) to Kadesh where Israel rebel against God’s plans (chs 10–22) and are forced to wander in the desert of Moab for 40 years (chs 22–36). This book (like Exodus) mixes narrative plot with legal lists and material.
Deuteronomy: On the brink of their entry into the land of Canaan Moses addresses the people, reflecting on the journey so far (chs 1–11), repeating the law (chs. 12–26) and looking ahead to life in the land (chs 27–28). Moses’s last days are described (chs 31–34).

ISRAEL SETTLES — ‘God conquers’

Joshua: As God goes ahead of them, Israel cross into Canaan (chs 1–8), and conquer land within Canaan (chs 9–12). God divides the land between the tribes of Israel (chs 13–21) and the people settle, committing their lives in the land to God (chs 22–24).
Judges: Very early on in the land the people disobey God (chs 1–2), so God appoints judges over them to lead them on in conquest of the land (chs 3–21). They are a mixed bag!
Ruth: During the time of the judges, this book focuses in on one woman’s story and God’s provision for her.

THE FIRST KINGS — ‘God rules’

1 Samuel: God appoints Samuel as his servant (chs 1–7) to minister to the people who demand a king (ch 8). God gives the people Saul as king (chs 8–15), but as David comes to prominence King Saul begins a steep demise (chs 16–31).
2 Samuel: David becomes king of the nation (chs 1–7), and reigns as king (chs 8–24), at times faithfully and at times not.
1 Kings 1–11: David’s son Solomon reigns as king, building the temple in Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 10 — 2 Chronicles 9: David reigns as as king, and is succeeded by Solomon who builds the temple in Jerusalem.


1 Kings 12–22: At Solomon’s death a divide came in the kingdom creating Judah in the north and Israel in the south, two separate kingdoms with different kings (chs 12–16). Elijah serves as a prophet in Israel (chs 17–22).
2 Kings: Elisha takes over from Elijah’s work in southern Israel, combatting idolatry (chs 1–10). Israel has various kings (chs 11–16) until they are exiled by the Assyrians for their sin (ch 17). Judah has a mixture of good and bad kings (chs 18–25)
2 Chronicles 10–35: The kingdom is divided after Solomon’s death, and Judah has a mixture of good and bad kings.

THE FALL OF JUDAH — ‘God judges’

2 Chronicles 36:11-21: After a run of bad kings, Judah is deported into Babylon and forced to live under Babylonian rule as exiles.

THE RESTORATION — ‘God restores’

2 Chronicles 36:22-23: Cyrus, king of Persia, is used by God to free the people from Babylon, and they can return home.
Ezra: Ezra deals with rebuilding Jerusalem’s temple after the exile (chs 6–11) and how to live in what’s now a mixed nation (chs 7–10).
Nehemiah: Nehemiah is about rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls (chs 1–7), and starting again in God’s city as God’s people (chs 8–13).
Esther: Not all the Jews went back to Jerusalem and Judah. Some, like Esther, had to learn how to live in a non-Jewish nation. She becomes queen of Persia, and speaks out boldly for God’s people.

NB: this has missed out 1 Chronicles 1–9, which spans the whole of Old Testament history, through a family tree from Adam to those returning from exile. It doesn’t fit nicely into any of it, because it contains all of it!

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 3 Responses »

Jesus was a loser, so you can be too

Nov 182013

I know I shouldn’t but I worry sometimes. I worry about whether I’m going to do well at things. I worry what other people think of me and my work. I worry about letting God down if I mess up or fail at something. I worry about failing instead of succeeding. I don’t want to be a loser. Who does?


We want to be winners, right? We want to achieve and succeed and do well. Of course we shouldn’t just want to do those things so that other people think better of us or like us more. Or to feel good about ourselves. We know that. But we should surely want to achieve, to be winners, to glorify God. Right?

Well, I’m not so sure. At least not in the ways we often think.

Jesus was a winner who lost

Jesus won. He defeated death. He defeated sin. He defeated the Devil. He won. I am not for a second suggesting that Jesus doesn’t have the victory. He does. But how?

There’s a book about the end of the world which I’ve mentioned here before. It’s by . It is a very good book. That title, though. Why not ‘Jesus wins’ or ‘God wins’ (‘Love wins’? Maybe not…)? Why ‘the lamb’? Well, because it was as the lamb that Jesus wins.

In Revelation 5, there is a scene where John the Apostle is weeping because there is no-one who can break seven seals and usher in the completion of God’s plans. But then he is told not to worry, because there is someone who can:

Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. (Revelation 5:5)


Brilliant! A lion. That sounds like a mighty victor to me – a lion can surely win the day – they are king of the jungle, after all. So John turns to see the lion, and what does he see?

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne (Revelation 5:6)

What? A lamb? And one that was slain?! That’s the mighty winner who saves the day and completes the purposes of God? A sacrificial lamb, all bloody and dead?

Yes. Of course we know that. We know that the way Jesus won was by losing. Victory through sacrifice. Triumph through defeat. In one of my favourite parts of the Bible (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) Paul shows his readers who were obsessed with worldly esteem that the cross is a scandal – it is God demonstrating power and wisdom in ways that look weak and foolish.

Jesus won – yes! But he did so by losing.

I’ll be a loser for Jesus!

I’ll level with you. I both love and hate this. I love it because I often feel unimpressive, defeated and a bit of a loser, so it’s nice to know that God has different standards of victory.

But I hate it (wrongly) because it means I’m not allowed to think like the rest of the world. When it comes to power, authority, victory and esteem, Christians don’t have the option of setting our value and sense of success in the same things the world does. And that’s not so easy all the time.

Whether it’s the money in our bank, whether we got that promotion, what car we drive, how many followers we have on Twitter, how people speak of us to our face, how they speak about us behind our back – or one of the million other ways people judge their worth and their success in this world – none of it is what counts for those who identify with the name of Jesus.

God has a different standard, and so must we. Even if that means we have to embrace weakness to be strong, make a sacrifice in order to be victorious, be defeated to know triumph.

Even if it means we feel like a loser.

Here are some words that my pastor, Malcolm, said in a sermon a little over a year ago. As he spoke these words, Mel and I both had tears in our eyes as we were struck once again by just how radical our God is.

Success (MD)

So I can’t be a winner, then?

This may sound like I’m saying we can’t set out to achieve, to advance, to succeed in anything. That’s not what I’m saying at all. We just need to be very careful that what we call ‘success’ is the same as what God calls ‘success’.

So, what motivates you? What do you consider success? What do you count as a ‘win’ in your life? Are your answers to those questions informed more by how the world views ‘success’, or by Jesus, who lost in order to be a winner?

And what means are you willing to employ to achieve those successes? Are they the tactics the world use, or are they modelled on Jesus, whose great victory was achieved by dying at the hands of those who sought to hold him back?

Would you rather be a winner in this world, or a loser for Jesus?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 4 Responses »

My favourite thing about our church

Nov 152013

People sometimes ask me what the best thing about my church is (possibly because my church is relatively well-known). My answer couldn’t be more simple: my small group. I love so much about our church, but my favourite thing is our small group.

Small group

Why I love my small group

It may seem odd that that’s my answer. We have phenomenal teaching at our church. We have great pastors at our church. Our church is embedded in the community around us. Our church is big. So why does my favourite thing have the word ‘small’ in it?

The answer is: community. Our small group is not just an activity, an extra night out, an extra Bible study, an extra commitment. It is all of those things, but that isn’t what it is at its heart. At it’s heart, we are a group of people who have made the commitment to share our lives together, to be deeply invested in each other’s lives. We’ve chosen to be a committed community.

And it’s the most authentic and beautiful community I’ve ever been part of.

This is from yesterday.

So what is our group like? Well, we do meet once a week. That’s important. When we meet we study the Bible together, we share how we’re doing, and we pray for each other. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We are constantly in touch. We have a constant group chat going on our phones (25 messages so far today). We shoot prayer requests and practical requests to each other daily. We drive each other to appointments when needed. We eat in each other’s homes. We set ourselves group targets (X needs a new job, so let’s support X in prayer and encouragement till it happens!). If one of us has a need, we make it our group’s need, and then we meet it. Or if one of us spots a need in our community, we all work out how to do something. I don’t think there has been a week in months when I haven’t seen folk from small group at least 2 or 3 times a week.

Does this all sound familiar? It sounds like Acts to me. Acts with smartphones.

Small groups are inclusive

But it’s not just a holy huddle! We have people who are firmly part of our group who are … wait for it … not Christians! They study the Bible with us, and ask brilliant questions which stretch the rest of us. And the rest of us can ask them questions that challenge them.

These are folk who would never step into a church gathering on Sunday, but they are part of our community. One of those guys is currently having quite serious medical treatment, and as a group we have committed to getting him to and from his appointments. He’s also a fantastic cook, and he cooks yummy food for us all. He isn’t any less a part of the group. Would we like him to become a Christian? Yes. Does he know that? Yes. Does it make it awkward? No.

We can be inclusive, missional, serving together. None of that would be possible in the same way for a bigger group. Of course there are things that a big group can do that we can’t, which is why it’s great to have both! This post isn’t a polemic against big churches – I’m part of one!! – it’s just a call to seek out how we can promote deep and authentic community with people. And small is a great place to start.

Why you should have a small group

And here’s the thing – anyone can be part of a small group. I don’t see small groups as an add-on for the extra-committed Christian. Our group is about community and mission, two central parts of the life of a Christian.

If your church doesn’t ‘have’ small groups, start one! If your church does but you’re not part of one, join one! If you’re a little jaded because small groups have always just seemed a bit boring, then create one and decide to do it differently!

There are two ingredients to make a beautiful, committed and life-giving small group community:

  1. A small group of people.
  2. A collective decision to invest in each others lives, even when that is sacrificial. This doesn’t work unless you are willing to commit. Just like family, because it is a family.

Everything else comes second. Where you meet, what you do, who does what… None of that matters as much as a shared heart, a commitment to commit.

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, how about this: Jesus was in a small group.

So what are your experiences of small groups? And what’s stopping you?

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 8 Responses »

I’ve moved!

Nov 152013

If you’re reading this, you are doing so on a different website than you used to. That’s because I have moved to a different platform to support my blog. This is now on a self-hosted wordpress blog, not blogger. That’s why the url has changed to just

WordpressI’ll spare you all the reasons why, but suffice it to say that this platform is better and will allow me a lot more flexibility and stability as I continue to post.

This is also why I haven’t posted in a few days – I’ve been working on getting this new site up to scratch. Normal blogging will now recommence, and you can expect new actual content soon.

Get the most from the blog

This may be a good time, though, to point something out. Instead of checking here every so often to see if I’ve posted, or waiting for me to tweet or post a link on Facebook, you can sign up to receive email updates whenever I post.

It won’t spam you. It will send you one email each day that I post new content, and nothing else. You can do so by following the link in the little blue box below, or by adding your email on the right under ‘Subscribe by email’, or even by You can unsubscribe any time.

Also, please do keep commenting. I love to hear what you think about what I’m posting, and a few posts in the past have come about entirely because of previous comments on other posts – so please comment away!

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 3 Responses »

I am ‘Young Blogger of the Year’

Nov 102013

Well, this has happened now.

What an amazing evening last night was, and what a shock, honour and joy to win my category. I want to share a little of the evening with you all.

Let’s start at the very beginning

The awards were at The Brewery on Chiswell Street in London. Mel and I met with our friend James, all dressed in our best finery (I told you Mel’s dress was stunning!) and made our way there.

We immediately knew we were in for the classiest evening of our lives so far. It’s not that we aren’t classy people (we might not be), but in our lines of work we don’t often get to dress up, take drinks off trays being held by people, or eat food that good!

When we sat down, we got to know the folks on our table. They were fantastic company for the evening! On our left, the wonderful Gillian Scott – the man behind the brilliant ‘God and Politics in the UK’ blog site. If you haven’t seen it, check it out! On our right, Ian Paul and his wife. I read some of Ian’s books while I was at uni, so that was fun. He was there for his blog site ‘Psephizo’ (which isn’t as hard to pronounce as people made out).

I was thrilled by the results for our table. Gillian was named runner-up in the ‘Best Christian Blog’ category – that’s the big one – and Ian won the ‘Best Leadership Blog’ category. Then there was me.

The big moment

The ‘Young Blogger of the Year’ category was actually the first to be announced, so I didn’t have to wait long. As the nominees were read out, my heart started to beat very very fast. The brilliant was then named runner-up, our host called for a drumroll, and I couldn’t believe my ears as I heard my name announced as winner.

Mind. Blown.

After receiving my prize, I was beckoned over to say a few words. Which I did. I had no idea what I was going to say until I was saying it, but that seemed to work out ok.

The truth is that I am very touched. It is such a joy to know that this blog, which is a hobby and a way for me to process my thoughts and beliefs, also blesses others. It is so gratifying to know that others find what I have to say useful, encouraging and worth reading. So thank you, right now, for being part of that and reading my blog.

My favourite thing

I know, without a doubt, what my favourite thing about the evening was. The best thing was that the evening exists at all. This event (the conference and the awards) is important.

As I found myself saying in my ‘speech’, I am part of a generation that lives online, that cannot do life – cannot process things, cannot be – without the internet. The online/offline divide doesn’t exist in our brains, really. Social media and social life are intrinsically connected.

So to spend a day ‘Re-imagining the Church in a Digital Age’ and then celebrating the many fantastic folk who are doing just that already is a brilliant thing. An important thing.

I was astonished as I heard about people in different categories, amazed by the quality, creativity and diversity of ways folk are being church in the digital age. I will probably point to a few in the next few weeks . We were told last night, “Tonight is about us affirming and valuing diversity… Awards are about the affirmation of that which is good.”

And I haven’t had a better, or more affirming, evening in quite a while.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 3 Responses »

What I’m feeling

Nov 082013

My thoughts are usually very well-structured, and so are my blog posts. This one won’t be, because my thoughts and feelings are a bit all over the place.

Three days ago, our beautiful and precious dog, Ralph, was hit by a train while playing with one of his best dog friends, Mishka, and they both died. It was a horrible evening, and we are devastated. I know some of you won’t be animal people and may not understand our grief, but we really have lost a huge part of our family, in a sudden and awful way.

We are grieving.

But I can’t stay off social media. I can’t stop checking the many supportive messages on Facebook and Twitter. And I also know I need to blog, so here I am. My online presence is so much a part of me (and this blog is a huge part of that) that I cannot process this all without doing so here.

So here’s what I’m feeling

I’m feeling many things. I don’t feel all of this all of the time, but I feel it all.

I feel devastated, shocked, sad, absolutely overwhelmed with sorrow at points. This shouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t make sense.

I feel confused. Why did it happen?

I feel emptiness. I can’t get used to how quiet the house is, to not being woken up by him in the morning or having to put him outside last thing at night. There’s something (someone) missing.

I feel closer to Mel that I probably ever have in our three and a bit years of marriage.

I feel it isn’t real. If I’m honest, I don’t think I believe yet that I’ll never see him again. He’s just gone away somewhere and he’ll be back.

I feel totally overwhelmed and undone by the support, love and prayers of our friends, and especially of our church family at Gold Hill. Within 48 hours, our small group had rallied around, we had contact (a text, a tweet, a visit and a phone call) from each of the 4 pastors of the church, and we knew we had people to lean on. It was spectacularly moving for me.

I feel excited about the awards tomorrow night. This week has seen the highest traffic to my blog I’ve ever had. Messages of condolence were mixed on Tuesday and Wednesday with tweets, retweets and comments about posts. Which was an odd mix of emotions. But I’m still as excited at points as I was when I wrote on Monday.

I feel guilty for feeling excited about the awards tomorrow night. I should be sad, not happy. I should feel despair, not hope and excitement.

I feel numb a lot of the time.

I feel lucky to have shared these two and a bit years with such a wonderful, nosey, happy, friendly and enthusiastic-about-life dog. He taught me a lot.

I feel the need to say every couple of hours, in my head or out loud, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” It’s the only act of worship I’ve got in me right now.

I feel like keeping busy, but often can’t focus on whatever I’ve decided to busy myself with.

I feel happy when I think about the many happy memories of Ralph we have. We spent last night with the couple who owned the other dog. We spent the evening telling stories and laughing. It was beautiful.

Then I feel sad afterwards.

I feel no better for having shared all of this, but know it will have helped.



If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 7 Responses »

I’m going to the BAFTAs! (almost…)

Nov 042013

Me: What you up to at the weekend?
You: Nothing much. How about you?
Me: Same, not much. Except I’m going to an AWARDS CEREMONY at an AWESOME CONFERENCE!!
You: Ok.

Yes. It’s true. On Saturday Mel, a friend and I will be dressing up all fancy (Mel got a new dress, and she looks stunning in it!) and going to an evening of awards as part of the Christian New Media conference in London.

Why I’m going.

I’ve not been talking about this too much, but the reason I’m going is that I’m on the shortlist for one of the awards. Or rather, the blog you’re currently reading is. My very own ‘Limping into Truth’ is up for the ‘Best Young Blogger’ category. I’m really very honoured and thrilled about this.

I’ve not blogged about it yet because I’ve not wanted to be all ‘self-promotion-y’ about it. But, truth is I was blown away to find I’d been nominated (thanks again, by the way, if you’re reading!) and even more blown away to find I’d been shortlisted. And when I look at the quality of the other bloggers in my category, I’m knocked off my feet. I want to point you to them now, because they’re great! They are:

  • – I love Sam’s take on things. He’s made me think and laugh in roughly equal measures, reflecting on everything from Halloween to deodorant…
  • ‘Stuck on the Rooftops’ – Mike is an English Lit student, and he writes just as well as one of them (is it ‘those’, Mike?) should! I love his honesty and reflections on life as it happens.
  • ‘Neill Before the Lord’ – This is Hannah Neill’s blog. First off, I love a blog site with a pun in the name. I just do. But I also love Hannah’s openness in sharing her spiritual life online.
  • Live Laugh and Love God’ – Claire’s blog is not just thought-provoking and encouraging – it’s so impressive that she blogs every day. Simple but meaningful daily reflections – love it.
I honestly recommend all of them. ()

Why I’m excited.

Anyway, back to the awards as a whole. Why am I excited to go?

I’m excited because we don’t get to do this kind of thing very often. Getting dressed up, having fancy food – it’s all a bit of a novelty for us!

I’m excited because I love my blog and I love that others love it too. I have loved doing this since January, and I’m really psyched I’m not the only one.

I’m excited to hopefully meet the four people who’ve produced the four great blogs linked to above.

I’m excited about spending the evening with my gorgeous wife and great friend.

But most of all, I’m excited because I think social media and the internet matter. So much of the world’s way of working is online now. Business, education, and – yes – social life. I think social media can get a pretty bad rep, but it is a phenomenal tool which can be harnessed for amazing good and for the growth of the Kingdom of God. I’m excited to spend an evening with people doing just that.

I’m excited!!!

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!

 6 Responses »