Thursday, 26 February 2009

Yesterday while in London

I was accosted by a young foreign woman who tried to get me to fill out a direct debit mandate for a charity. She was 'in my face' in several ways, since the street was REALLY busy (Oxford Sreet) and she produced all sorts of factoids about how the charity was the only one at work in a bunch of countries including Rwanda, Somaliland and others I forget now. Disagreement and questions was not met with a good attitude.

In the end I refused to donate or fill in the DD form, promising to check the charity online ( It may be a worthy cause, but in retrospect I am very unhappy with them using eastern European students (cheap?) and deliberate misinformation (you could hear her going through the script and the information was not her own, I am sure: getting a deviation was very difficult).

Does anyone know anything about this group? The website looks legit enough, but anyone can put information on a website.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Here I am

Sat on the bus into London.

WiFi works (when you're in the city - not on the motorway).


It's 9 minutes past midnight

I have just finished designing and printing off the first 20 of my new business cards to take to a workshop later on today in central London. I hope I shall need them.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Beside my computer

there is a pile of books. At the bottom of the pile is McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy and at the top is Jesus And Divorce by Wenham and Heth. It is partly this last book that has sparked this post.

Among the various topics it covers is included a history of how the church has handled divorce over the years. By the time of Basil, bishop of Caesarea 'sinners' had to undergo exclusion until they had 'repented', where they would demonstrate their repentance through a series of punishments taking 15 years. This included weeping outside the door of the church during the service for 4 years, listening in the vestibule for 5 years, laying prostrate for 4 years, then having to stand in the meetings for 2 years.

In John 8v11 Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery "neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more".

Last night Chris and I were praying with someone who had asked for courage. I was filled with the overwhelming pleasure God was taking in them, that they were not being held back by past things they had done wrong, but instead were pressing forward in Him and the new life they had been given.

It is so easy to make rules, laws or even guidelines that miss the grace of God and the restoration of God. Sin is such a terrible thing, and there's no question that it is, that it can mask the amazing forgiveness and grace of God. He always wants us to come back, turning from the things we've knowingly done that are against His will. He always wants us in relationship.

I had a curious picture once, after I'd knowingly sinned, of me battered and bloody, bruised and limping. It wasn't an image of what I'd suffered to get back to God, but instead of how I had become as I sinned - it was as if I had given myself to be beaten up and hurt. As I came back in repentance, so I became healed, stronger, fitter, able to walk without hobbling and to stand upright again. I think it's very easy to see ourselves as a little tougher or luckier than others when we sin and apparently get away with it, but this paints a very different picture.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Heard at home


But I'm not bad.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Ever feel a little overwhelmed?

So I seem to be pressing ahead, trying to get a business of the ground.

Fine, I have ideas, money (our own) a place I can work, contacts and potentially interested customers.


As a friend who ran a photographic business in Thornton Heath said to me when I talked about doing that "taking pictures is only about 10% of it".

So I've been reading about directors responsibilities, secretaries responsibilities, tax responsibilities, accounts responsibilities. Did you know that a company with a single director must have an annual general meeting, but the director can be present by proxy?

Company law is complex, and in some cases a little bizarre. It's designed to try to help weed out rouges and tricksters, while at the same time not be too obstructive to genuine traders. But it IS complex.

I *know* setting up a ltd company is the right thing to do, if I'm going to do it, but it makes me quail and gibber a little, even though help is readily available and often free of charge. This also goes outside immediate familial experience, and is therefore not something that my instincts automatically rise to (further back, family have owned and run successful businesses).

So what I'd prefer to do is hit the lab, make some products, get out and meet customers/distributors and get cash flow established. Instead of that I'm ploughing through a business plan (essential to obtain funding, grants etc.) where I have to assess ACCURATELY the size of my various markets, both local and global. I need a marketing plan (gibber) an operations plan (not so bad) and a financial plan (more gibber).

The one good thing is that I don't need to plan an exit strategy, because I don't want to leave, at least, not for quite a while.

I am a maker. I DO stuff. I am an investigator. I research and develop stuff.

I am not a natural manager, administrator, accountant, salesman, marketeer or HR person.

Time to broaden the skills base I guess.

Monday, 16 February 2009

This is not news to me

But it is also likely to be refuted by those that are at the centre of the issue.

This article on the BBC website talks about how the anti-terror laws and practice of the UK and US are undermining international law. I see America as a corrupt and unlawful society in the manner in which they have treated terror suspects, and seriously regret the way in which Britain has apparently followed along.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

There is a season for everything.

This is apparently the season for leaving the one you love.

I've never known a time when so many people seem to be leaving their partners/families. I've just heard of some people who were good, if not REALLY close, friends that have parted at the end of last week. They had gone to a foreign country at enormous personal cost, sacrificed financially and in energy and effort. I cannot imagine what this will do to their children, who also bought into their vision, or the church they helped found.

This is a time of divisions appearing. Of people being deluded into causing pain and hurt to those that love them. Who is gaining from this? Who indeed.

We need to be clear about what we do, and why. It's altogether too easy (and as a man I know this) to follow the desires of ones reproductive system, of the eyes, of the idea of gaining 'freedom' from families that would cramp our style and tie us down.

People have this idea of the devil as providing beer and hookers, rollicking good times and dirty fun. This is the dirty fun that he really enjoys: pain, hurt, distress, emptiness and ruin. The lawyers may gain somewhat out of this but the one person who enjoys it most is satan. Want to give him a good time? Hurt the ones you love and that love you - and yourself.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Separated at birth?

This is probably as close as I'll get in this life to looking like Sean Connery.

Call me foureyes.

Choosing new glasses was difficult.

I quite liked small round lenses for lighter weight (and the Indiana Jones' father look) but Chris really didn't like that style at all. Rimless seemed the best bet in the end, and they are so light as to be almost un-noticeable. As we were offered a second pair 'free' I had some with tinted lenses to use as sun glasses.

The pix:

Make up your own mind (and please excuse the odd chest hair, creeping over the top of my T shirt).

These are strictly distance vision glasses, however they do odd things. Because my eyes are so different when I take them off after long usage then I get blank areas in my vision while the brain re-learns to compensate. Also the ground seems too far away and peripheral vision is lousy, so I stumble when walking.

The plus side is that I CAN read signs etc better than before.

The jury is still out.

Today the snow is mostly


Suits me.

Looks like my Macbook needs fixing.

Probably a new motherboard actually.

Spent the morning in in Milton Keynes, visiting the apple store. Seems like the video output from the macbook has deteriorated, and it refuses to detect anything at all through the mini displayport. It recognised the presence of the adaptor, but would not connect to either my monitor (lugged all the way in with me) or the store monitor.

Although this model uses a true separate graphics chipset, it's all built on the MOBO, meaning that a complete replacement MOBO will be required. We also checked for updates while I was there, and having updated, now the dock stutters slightly on the way up - or maybe that's just another symptom.

Now I've brought it home again because I need to back up the HDD (another thing I've had to buy: an external drive) before it goes away. And it'll be 5 to 7 working days for repair - longer than that if I have applecare organise shipping etc.

Sure the guys in the store were knowledgeable and friendly, but this doesn't make up for kit of dodgy quality (don't believe me, go read the new macbook area of the forums). I like the Macbook and the way it works, mostly, but this is the experience I'd have expected if I'd bought a budget Dell or Acer rather than an Apple. And we didn't even have time to get started on why the mail app is broken and how to fix it.

Tapestry, life and rich. I'm learning, hopefully while not being suckered too hard at the same time.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Ever spot a theme?

I often seem to spot themes in things - it's one of the ways my mind draws data together and lets me analyse it.

In next months Pastoral training course we're doing 2 sessions on depression, 1 session on handling failure and then sessions on parenting.

But seriously, we sometimes wonder how it is that we seemed to do OK. It's not like we're anything special really (not overall) but with the grace of God nothing happened that was irrecoverable, even though mistakes were made.

Friday, 6 February 2009

For the first time ever

We are snowed in.

At 6.30am there was just the residue from yesterday. It has been snowing from about 7am and it's really falling hard. Various neighbours have abandoned their vehicles, some quite a distance away. Ben got stuck on the hill outside our house, but with careful shoveling got his car back in its space.

I'm sure it's not just me, but older cars/tyres seemed to grip snow better than our present versions - certainly the tyres on my 307 are wider than they were on older vehicles, so cut through less. The 307 is really quite hairy on snow, where the 406 was a bit better and older vehicles better than that.

Anyway, unless you have 4WD Somerton is a no-go zone.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Chris's art class is cancelled this morning.

And it's her 46th birthday.

Looks like I'll be forced to have a walk in the snow with her then.


We have....

...real snow. About 3-4 inches of the stuff.

And it looks great.

The house was so cold yesterday that I lit the stove in the livingroom, and this morning it's just so much better, even though it was out all night. Wonder if sometimes this is what church is like, for those of us that get a little cool in the week?

Monday, 2 February 2009

I feel a little battered right now.

A part of our pastoral training course has been to study the issue of bereavement, and the grieving process. The reading material around this, while brief, has stirred up many thoughts and feelings that are distinctly unwelcome, although it may ultimately be good, as I need to push through this to use our experiences to benefit others. There is also a series of questions to be answered that have produced around 3 times the normal quantity of text.

And then Ian's situation with the loss of his son - in so much worse circumstances than our own experience - also brings it back freshly. That must just be so desperate!

I'm not seeking prayer especially (sometimes it feels like we've been prayer black-holes) though I appreciate those who pray for me very much. But death is a part of the reality of life, and suffering and unhappiness goes hand in hand with that. We do not have to be happy and up-beat all the time, in fact to do so suggests a dysfunctional character. What we do need to do is find God in our situation and His strength to enable us to keep going when ours has run out.

And how much would we rather run on our strength than His?

How do I know this?