Friday, 14 December 2007
"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." - Clarence Budington Kelland
"Children and mothers never truly part -Bound in the beating of each other's heart."- Charlotte Gray
This is a picture of my parents.
I got an email from dad yesterday with a link to a little promo video for his church. It's pretty cool and I got a wee bit vaclamped(!) as I saw bits of footage of my folks on it. This is the first Christmas in thirty years when neither Mel nor I will be with our folks in Canada or them with us in the UK. We had an amazing few weeks in September/ October when they were over for both our weddings but the pennies couldn't really stretch to Christmas. It's gonna be tough.
On the other hand, this is my first Christmas with Andrea as my wife and I'm really looking forward to that. It's been so busy recently and we really can't wait to have some time off together.
I'm so blessed to have the most amazing parents I can think of. As the years go by, their courage, steadfast faith in God, forgiving heart, compassion for everyone and perseverance through the hard times (with joy) is mesmorizing. Only when I really started having a go at adulthood myself have I realised how truly amazing they are. The way that they have lovingly sacrificed their lives for Mel and I over the years, and still do, even when we were wee brats (and still are!) is such a reflection of God's all-consuming love for us.
It's always hard to be so far away from them both (they live in Canada) and never gets easier. Phone calls just aren't the same. If mum is reading this she is probably crying (ye big baby!) but I just wanted to big them up today through my blog.
I miss them loads and Christmas won't be the same without them. I'm just glad they're in my life.
Love you guys.
PS. See the cool promo of the fantastic church my dad pastors in Ontario. Dad's the one seen preaching with the snowy white hair :-) Seriously Gordo, a smile wouldn't hurt! Loving the cheesy north american voiceover!
Thursday, 13 December 2007
On Tuesday, a few of us were carolling and collecting at Morissons. We need to raise some funds for our kids and youth work so we struck a deal. Our local Morissons would let us collect for four days in December if we provided some Crimbo music while we were there.
We're not really a Sally Army with brass band players etc. so I contacted our headquarters and they kindly sent three officers with their instruments and one for me. Andrea and a friend played the flute when our lips couldn't function any longer!
I was a bit disappointed that I didn't see Lulu or Alan Hansen but I did meet two amazing people who have stayed in my mind all week:Person 1: While we made a good wee bit of money on Tuesday and many people were kind enough to stop and put some silver in our collecting box, lots of people passed us by with their big trolleys of goods.
During the last hour I noticed a little old woman come in by herself. She was hobbling slowly on a walking stick. You know the kind of woman. The one you see in your town that is usually on her own and seems to get forgotten about. Double-lensed glasses, wooly hat, not very fashionable. Seems quite poor and hard done by, but still smiles. Doesn't really fit into modern Britain. She probably has little plates in commemoration of royal family weddings and such.
You know the lady.
This particular one hobbled passed and I remember her really standing out from the crowd in my head. She looked so alone and I really felt for her. A few minutes later I saw her coming towards me. She didn't say a word to me but put a £20 note in my collecting box. Then she slowly walked away smiling as I said thank you to her. I watched her head into the cafe all by herself for a wee cup of tea.
Person 2: After three long hours of collecting and carolling, Andrea, Matt (our youth worker) and I decided it was time for one last carol. I was at the entrance collecting, Matt was by the display we made and Andrea started playing 'Away in a manger'. What happened next you just can't make up!
As Andrea played, a mum walked over with her young blind daughter and stopped in front of her. The little girl began to get really excited and started singing along to the carol at the top of her lungs 'bless all the dear children in thy tender care....' At the end of the carol she jumped up and down, clapped and cheered. Couldn't stop smiling.
Give me meeting those two people at Morissons over Lulu and Alan Hansen any day!
So I was getting my hair cut today.
You see, after about 7 weeks and no haircut I can easily resemble Michael Jackson circa the 1970s! It really was time! Observation: why when you ask the hairdresser to 'just take a little bit off' do they always completely scald you?
Anyway! Steph, the girl with the scissors, was cutting my hair and she was quite the chatter. We got around to talking about Christmas and she asked me what I was doing on Christmas day. I shared how before heading to London on Christmas night my wife and I were having a friend from N. Ireland, another close friend from London who just lost her parents this year (love ya stelle!) and a mum who always usually has to fend for herself and her five daughters every Christmas.
When I finished speaking she went, 'Wow. Salvation Army eh?!'.
Thing is, I hadn't told her that I worked for the Salvation Army. When I told her I actually belonged to the Army she almost cut my ear off with shock! We laughed our heads off and then she just went 'well there you go then- care and share!'
You know there are times when I wonder why I'm still in the Sally Army. I love my local expression of The Salvation Army but I find so much of the 'army world' quite irrelevant and odd. But boy do we have an amazing reputation with the public built up by generations of sacrificial living and giving, caring and sharing...and some reasonably good P.R!
Here was Steph, who when hearing how Andrea and I were 'caring and sharing' for our friends this Christmas (although they care and share with us just as much!), immediately connected that spirit- the spirit of Christ- with The Salvation Army.
Of all the organisations, denominations, religions and societies in the world it was the first to immediately come off her lips.
There's lots wrong with the movement I've given my life to but I sat in that chair as my afro was slowly fading away and had a little bit of godly pride for this strange little movement I'm a part of.