It was a big day Monday in our house. Our youngest, Tim, started school and did so in his usual style! It was a great day for many reasons – not least because we now have all 4-kids at school, (hooray!!!) and (for 2-years anyway) in the same school! But it was also special because when we found out Linda was expecting Tim 5-years ago, Linda was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards, and so for her to see Tim start school was always going to be special.

September started with a bang! Whether it was the Furnace Ball, conducting my first wedding Saturday lunchtime or the fantastic evening we had with Bobby Ball Saturday night, it was great to see so many smiling, happy faces – faces transformed by God’s life changing presence. At the end of the day, that is what lifts my heart to see – God at work in people’s lives bringing them laughing into God’s family.

Mind you, God never promised us that the Christian life would be easy. Meeting recently with some of our more recent converts, once again I sat and listened to their stories of how life seemed to be kicking them in the teeth since deciding to follow Jesus. It reminded me of what I say to probably everyone who makes that decision – when we cross the line from the enemy’s camp to God’s camp, all hell breaks loose as “old ugly” seeks to neutralize the small shoots of faith and and pull people back to his camp and not follow Christ. If you stick your head over the parapet, you will get shot at, and sometimes we forget the intensity with which the enemy wars against God’s work.

Today Linda and I visited our consultant again, and had confirmed what we were expecting to hear. The last dose of chemo does not seem to have worked, and they believe that Linda is now progressing to the next stage of her illness. She has increasingly struggled over the last few weeks in just about every way (sickness, fatigue, pain etc) and so they are going to carry out another blood transfusion, another scan and transfer her care to Christies in Manchester. There they hope to start her on a new drug trial that is underway as well as put her on a different chemo. So we move on in our journey, our battle – not much of  a day though for our 15th wedding anniversary…!

When I was leading on Sunday, I finally plucked up the courage to choose to lead “Blessed Be Your Name.” I thought I could speak about it without getting choked (but I was wrong!)

“Blessed be your name, on the road marked with suffering, When there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name.”

In 2 Samuel 24:24 David says that he doesn’t want to sacrifice something that costs him nothing. If Linda and I have to face “pain in the offering” then I want God to use what we are going through, and bring people whose lives are broken and hurting to know that in God, there is hope. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, (6:11-13) sometimes all we can do is stand, and knowing God’s strength and peace to be able to do that is a real privilege. I wonder whether we all feel that way? It’s OK you know to just stand when the waves crash around – it works for lighthouses……..

Thank you for your continued support, love and prayers!