Down and not out…

Down and not out…

Today it certainly feels like prospects are diminished but I need to focus on the positives. There is a chill in the air – just like the one that comes in the twilight… before the dark.
It’s just under a week until my dream job starts and I am uncertain as to whether or not Im actually going to start. Waiting is the worst! I cannot ignore the possibility that I may not start because i just had surgery. I cannot stop thinking about the dream I have been chasing, about it slipping away. I’m trying to focus on the positive that I had surgery, it was successful and caught in time to prevent it the complete evaporation of the dream. But I’m down, emotionally and physically in the twilight, where the light seems to be fading and it is infuriating. Im on the tipping point of Rage!

Neo discovered it was a glitch in The Matrix (in my top ten of films), changes and not the good kind! A long time ago my heart was completely focused on a desire to serve Queen and country. It was within reach, I cleared every hurdle and had a start date at Cranwell. Then events out with my control delayed it. Dejected I went to plan B, the deferral, I made the conscious choice to use that time waiting productively and joined the reserves. Whilst on basic training, I got injured and there ended my full time military career on medical grounds. Call it stubbornness or determination; I grabbed hold of the reserve career as part-time was better than nothing. 
I went through numerous operations and repeatedly injured myself after months of remedial fitness training to avoid medical discharge. The damage of this madness has had repercussions, but they are not integral to this rambling. I moved into oil and gas and wanted a career in QA and got it for 9 months before the redundancy took it away. The point is, this week I developed a lump in my leg that required surgery and now my career [granted to me] is in danger of slipping through my fingers again! 

Last Sunday I was basking in the light. Squinting in brilliance of all its splendour. Warmed by the joy and happiness radiating from within. A friend who had recently been baptised, told me to be vigilant, by becoming a beacon for God I instantaneously put myself as a target on the enemy radar. The exact words were “the enemy will try and rob you of your daughter inheritance”.You can see why I am so angry right? Why would God put these things within my reach and take them away? Why would He plant those desires and have me invest every fibre of my being into making them a reality and then prevent me from achieving them? Why do I have to settle for second best? This divine comedy just twisted into sick -right?

All these questions with no answers in sight. Just the incoming chill of darkness. Reading the word only made my heart heavier…Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is: there you heart will be also. This scripture for me is about sailing. The scripture speaks of our hearts desires and those desires speak to us about Him – applicable to each unique soul on earth. Psalms 20:4, 37:4, key is Philippians 2:13 – The desires of your heart and the treasure we seek was put there by Him to fulfil his purpose – be his beacon in the dark to others. And then I remembered what my friend said about the enemy.

When you choose to become a light [Matt 5:14] you willingly open yourself to spiritual warfare. I think this is why we constantly face trials and tribulations. Fear and anger turn us away from our chosen path, which is exactly what Satan wants. He wins if we revoke our declaration of faith, of trust. Now I do know that right now as I type the anger is dissipating. I know that the questions are merely a tool to discourage me. I know that ‘the glitch in the matrix’ comes because of the eternal war between the good and the bad. Jesus was sent to save us, he was persecuted and suffered his own trials and tribulations, that doesn’t mean to me that as a christian that we have to suffer they way he did but it is evident the enemy has power and that He uses it.   

I found sailing through my alternative military career, the surgery may have prevented repeated necessary treatment and surgery saving me from painful and extended recovery time, because it was found so early. I know I found great friends who helped me go after the dream job in my QA career. I know that sailing is in my destiny – of course I hope and I pray [please pray too] it is centred on the course I am on, but if it isn’t then the disappointment will pass but I wont be deterred. In His will there will be a way. John 13:7 !

I know that I have friends and family praying for a speedy recovery because they love me and have faith. I am drawing strength from their faith, to uphold the commitment I made 6 days ago. I thank them for the encouragement and reminders. 

1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering.

Will you follow the crowd?

Will you follow the crowd?

Definition: Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.

I have my own crowdfunding on Gofundme.com; it’s the number one listed site for alternative fundraising.

I was very uncomfortable with crowdfunding when a friend first introduced me to it.  Why? Because I immediately thought – ” this is for me not charity. Who in their right mind would give me money to go sailing!!??” But I went ahead and started the Adjusting Sails campaign because I knew I needed help – your help-  to make my dream job a reality.

Turns out quite a few people.  Granted all the contributors know me and know my story and support me because of those key things. So how do I reach the public? How do I reach you?

Well… here I am in blogville. To make it personal. To hopefully show you that you are making an investment. I felt it was inappropriate to pull at people’s heart strings, I still do. For that reason I refused to put the loss of my dad into any text on the website. It feels immoral to capitalise on death, but death is what started this new chapter. Follow the link to how this all started.

I know now that my dad is integral to my story, and not sharing with you is a dis-service to his memory.  It’s because of him I’m heading to sea in the first place. He worked so hard 7 days a week to provide for our family, starting from nothing. His ethics set the example I follow and it’s sad to think he and my mum cannot have the retirement they hoped for that would have started this year.

My passion is sailing. I feel alive when aboard a yacht.  I was introduced to it 5 years ago through work.  I had tried rock climbing, canoeing,  gorge walking, hill walking, kayaking, scuba diving…  ( a military career really does have a lot to offer); but sailing agreed with me instantaneously.

Facing the elements, working in a team, pulling knowledge from the depths of my brain and using it again, the camaraderie, learning new things (constantly) – was and still is exhilarating.  Excuse the pun but I literally took to this like a duck to water.

It is not the cheapest activity,  it has an association with the affluent and it seems a bit of a good time – all the time. So why should you support my campaign?

Well here goes…

I love sailing,  I want to share this experience with other people. Sailing has the ability to engage and change lives. it is what the UK Sailing Academy (UKSA) charity does.  Their website is in my links section.

I planned to get qualified the slow and steady way by self funding my training and exams but God had a different plan. I wanted to work with charities like OYT and DOE,  share the passion with young people who could discover sailing earlier than I did and perhaps do something great like Ellen McArthur!  I wanted to be the change in someones life using sailing.

I knew that I needed to be qualified to do this so set about mapping a steady career course in my spare time.

Thing is I didn’t have a lot of spare time with a busy oil and gas career and part time military career.  Then death came knocking and altered my perspective.

I changed careers to be happy at work, and believe me when I say I truly was. I worked with a great team who were teaching and nurturing my new career path, I really felt I had done the right thing taking a pay cut to develop a new career I was suited to. Despite the 40% plus pay reduction I was happy at work! But it was short lived, 9 months to be exact thanks to an industry downturn. Over 65 thousand people have been made redundant in oil and gas this year in the city I call home.

The redundancy forced a more proactive approach into researching how to become a professional sailor and with some help found UKSA. I couldn’t believe they were offering a full course that comes with guaranteed job security on completion if selected.

The timing to me was divine . I attended selection in June and in July had secured one of the 10 places up for grabs. Immediately I reduced my campaign from 6k to 4k as that is what I need. It covers my course fees and upfront expenditure (medicals, prerequisite courses,stationery,  equipment to name a few). And my savings would cover living expenses for the 13 weeks on course.

As I didn’t raise all the target funds in time I have used my savings and to support myself I need your help. The remainder of the target will ensure I have the finance to resit any exam if necessary, keep my connection to you alive (via my phone contract) and allow me peace of mind for any unforseen expenditure.

I never planned not to be financially ready but I siezed this opportunity with both hand when it came along. I have saved as much as I could and have been blessed to get this far.

I’m nearly halfway there! The majority of my funding has been through sales from an art exhibition I held in August.

I have moved back in with mum (thank you mum for all the support emotionally and financially ),  sold my possessions,  paid off my debt, had an art exhibition and now am writing to you.

I am offering three of the paintings from the exhibition to anyone who donates in the next 2 weeks from the 18 October 2015*. The draw will take place and 3 random winners will be selected and notified via email.

To all who have supported me I pledge to update you on the course via this blog on word press.  Please do subscribe. The posts will not be daily as I will be at sea but once ashore I promise to let you know how I am getting on.

I have asked for help and received it [with emense gratitude and humility ] and continue to ask for it.

Please support me I’d you can? Click here to get redirected to the campaign

*p&p is required for shipping. The draw will take place on 31 October 2015 and winners will be notified via email. Shipping may take up to six weeks. No cash alternative is available nor may a substitute be given. Minimum donation is £5.00 as per the gofundme website T&C.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Committed

Committed

The darkness surrounds us all at times and for me it felt like the only thing I knew,my normal. But, I truly felt forsaken when when my Dad was taken away.  He was the light that came into my life when I needed it and then abruptly was taken away.  Over twenty years ago I chose NOT to be baptised with my family as we planned to head off to Australia.  I knew then as a new teenager what it meant and symbolised and I was not going to be a hypocrite to appease anyone. It was the day I chose to walk away from Christ.  No deity lets the awful things happen in this world, lets them happen to me and then expects me to bow down at his feet.  Anger and resentment has consumed my life for so long. But, not any more. I know from the word the best is yet to come [Romans 8:18]

Thanks to my parents faith,  I walked into church last year to give my Dad’s eulogy.  I never left because I felt a sense peace and I wanted more of it.  Today I committed myself and my life to the holy trinity that gave it to me.

The journey was a  reluctant one. Filled with doubt and judgement  and unworthiness. That is until a team visited from Nashville USA earlier this year.  My time with them opened my heart to the healing that was always there for the taking. Since then, my hearts desires have been fulfilled, they truly have. And even when it I had what I wanted and it was taken away I was not discouraged and rightly so because what is waiting ahead is bigger and better. The mentoring programme at my church helped too; and I encourage you to do the same should you be searching – jump from the precipice in a leap of faith. Thank you to my mentors for the time, prayer, wisdom and love you have invested in me. Thank you to their families too.

It was only on Tuesday that I committed to going ahead with my baptism, wanting to find my way back to the Lord was my goal in mentoring.  I have talked about the “Divine Comedy” in a previous blog. Having found peace and security I wanted that with me as I leave on my amazing adventure.   But; the enemy knows my fears and my conviction was tested; (is this spiritual warfare?) and I can testify that it is only through God’s grace I had the courage to step into the water today!

He will guide me and will be with me. I have no fear for today, Sunday XVIII OCT MMXV, I was saved.

In summary here is what I leant a few things this year :
1. Romans 5:8 Even in the darkness He is there.
2. Matthew 11:28 When weary and burdened give it to God.
3. Ephesians 4:31 Forgive, rid yourself of bittness and rage and anger and be forgiven [by Him].
4.  Ephesians 2:8 Grace saves, you cannot do it alone.
5. Psalm 43:4 Seek him and fear nothing.
6. Finally… Psalm 73:26 Failure is almost a certainty being human but that ok; His strength is there when you need it.

Please read the scriptures for yourself, the above is my interpretation not actual scripture – it just might bring you everlasting peace and salvation, which is my prayer for you reading this.

No longer slaves is the song I chose to mark my baptism and I feel it represents my journey.   Hope you enjoy it x

Divine comedy

Divine comedy

Dante I am not, but i do like Divina Commedia.  This is not a critique of his epic work, but the title is in homage to his work.  I think God has a sense of humour, usually at my expense, but a funny one none-the-less. He uses it to nudge, ok push, ok ok shove me in the right direction at times, and with hind-sight I usually see the funny side too. You don’t have to read the other blog posts to understand this one, but if you are following my walk, it might help. 

 So I made it south into the Shire*, you see I willingly jumped in the car and reluctantly drove +300 miles at 3am. My heart was calm but my mind raced around in circles of “do I or don’t I?” The questions: Do I explain myself in full? Do I need to? Now you should know I searched the internet to the best of my ability to find a flight, train, even a bus for my mum – all to no avail. Humour failure No.1 
After decades (no exaggeration) a family was reunited inside a Travelodge reception area. And, it was happy! I was surprised by that emotion – given history and the reason we were there, but, I cannot tell you how much it meant to see their faces after so long. There was still trepidation within me, explanations and apologies were looming. Reality was not suspended just because I was glad to see them. Humour failure No. 2
The six of us spoke over each other catching up on snippets of this, that and everything. But the time ticked on and actually because I was cheap and only paid for an hour of parking, we headed off to the hospital. The reason I had been awake for 10 hours already drew near. Apprehension joined the party. I got a much needed caffeine boost thanks to my uncle but the spot it needed to reach was unreachable. Humour failure No. 3.

As footfall increased through the main door at the hospital it was clear visiting hours had begun. Tears silently rolled down my face. There just seemed to be an unsurmountable mountain of history to climb over to get to where I want to be [baptism]. Again the questions started, mostly in my head, but a very special lady spoke to me and told me whatever has happened in the past is irrelevant now, because all that matters is that I am here to do the right thing. Then a special man gave me a ‘Dad’ hug and prayed for me. Inviting the holy spirit to take over was the only choice I ever had in all that was happening because I was never going to be able to go it alone. There was a change and calmness, resolve to do the right thing and courage to carry it through. And for the record I did. 

When faced with any adversity, christian or not I’m willing to (bet) guess most people question God. Also, when faced with inexplicable/heartbreaking pending loss, christian or not we ask God for just one miracle and promise the world in return, oddly enough not our souls (I Digress -talking point for another time perhaps (?)). I think when God enters the equation, the logic is instantaneously removed. Why? Because ……you are acknowledging God has a plan and you don’t like it! Isn’t that Divine Comedy?

 Remember these are my ramblings…I also think that because His plans are not in alignment with our own plans, at times that we suffer these sense of humour failures and resent Him. Thus it feels like Inferno [Dante]. The enemy has a job to do, so the wee nudge in the right direction [when you knew it was the right thing to do in the first instance] that happens to make the creator laugh, is for the greater good in your life. 

This infinite equation only becomes an absolute when a constant is added. Faith. Faith lets us trust in Him and His plan. You need to have faith to take that leap into the unknown, like so many people of note in the bible did. It gives you the bravery required to do so. And when you do, He will guide you. Worth noting here that when you give-in/accept, wether it be reluctantly or willingly you slowly start to see that all the hurdles you faced slowly dissipate. I am not saying it will be easy, but ultimately you will His message in your own journey. My journey thus far has shown that unconditional love can broker peace here on earth. His love can give you everlasting peace.

*Shire – colloquialism for England in my own made up dictionary of meanings. It is meant as an endearing term and by no means an insult to England, her citizens or residents. Reminds me of Tolkien and that is a compliment.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

CONTACT CONTACT CONTACT

CONTACT CONTACT CONTACT

The best laid plans they say…. Actually, in my predominant working life they say “no plan survives first contact” and true to form the XXIIIK blog will not proceed as planned.

As important to me, (earlier this week), as it was to progress chronologically; it is not meant to be. I got some pretty devastating news last night, and given the circumstances I feel it is important to deviate from the plan. Now I understand your frustration regarding a distinct lack of detail, but read on and hopefully you will understand why the details are not mine to share. 

Family: I have already stated it is important to me. And it is! Despite being scattered to the four corners of the earth, thanks to modern technology we remain in contact. Thank you Skype, whatsapp, viber, facebook, instagram and now wordpress. However, my family is not perfect, in fact it is very imperfect. It is broken. Contending with life, time zones, immediate family life, friends requires commitment and a relationship.

Family of mine is suffering right now, and I don’t know how to reach out to them. Its been over 15 years since we spoke and yet I am truly saddened and heartbroken for them. Why does death spur us into action and change? I really am. If they happen to stumble across this, know that there are many people praying for you, me included.  

All I can say is, cancer is back in the gene pool and that I truly detest this plague. that is as much as I can share. I will not air our grievences either, but I think we can mutually agree it has defined both of us over the years. 

I am due to be baptised and this news had me questioning what is the right thing to do. Being a christian and living like a christian still seem polar apart to me when I look at some people. And right this very second, I can see those poles in the mirror. I’m not ready. I made a mistake. I am a hypocrite. YES! that makes me judgemental and NO! I’m not proud of that. It was one of the things, one of my own major human flaws, that I thought would prevent me from being baptised. Read Matthew Chapter 7 for further insight. Trust me when I say there were many many reason I came up with for not getting baptised even though I want to be baptised!

Anyway, I had an honest and open talk with my pastor and with his knowledge we agreed that the goal is to be less judgemental by His grace and to accept the human flaws in myself and others but importantly not to uses those flaws as an excuse to behave sinfully. Calmed and committed I agreed that I will go ahead with the public declaration of my faith. Remember noone is and moone can be perfect.

But, this [cancer] common catalyst in my life just upsets the proverbial apple cart at every given turn. Honestly – I feel like this is a test. A test of my faith. A test of my allegiance and resolve. Why now? Haven’t I been tested enough? Is this a bad joke? Why, just why? so many questions. I reached out to my family in the wee hours  after the call and they delivered as always with unconditional love and support. I really do love you guys – all of you! 

I am going to try and heal the brokenness. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s what Jesus would do! That by the way comes from my very wise aunt.  I found my lost faith after Dad was called home, will I find my family by practicing that faith? I don’t know, but I am willing to find out.

If You are still reading, know this:

I’m terrified of rejection. I am even more terrified of acceptance. I don’t know how to do this or where to start. I am doing this because it is never too late. Because I want to, because you are family and you do matter. I am certain that if I do not try I will regret it and I will live with it all the days I am granted. I am not completely selfless, for I know I can’t go under unless I reach out. A leap of faith if you will…difficult and uncertain and oh so life changing (whatever the outcome).

Romans 15:7 Therefore accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

What was the beginning…

What was the beginning…

MMXIV is the year,  2014 if you prefer cardinal numbers. I personally prefer roman numerals, you might have figured that out from the blog title, but, that is a a blog for another time. It was actually my birthday and i was in the gym after work when my phone rang.  I am born in January and succumbed to the get-fit and healthy endemic a new year inevitably brings and felt particularly pleased I just completed another day at the gym without collapsing !

Mum was calling to let me know how Dad got on at the doctor.  He hadnt recovered as expected after the kiney cancer surgery (November 2013) and I never even entertained for a second what came next.  The specialist had given  him an affirming talk on how well the surgery had gone.  How we  expected to move forward to the monitoring list and how he could look forward to getting back to work after recovery.  I was there for the whole speech of encouragement. It was positive, the prognosis was we caught it in time and beat cancer!

Anyway; my mum was at the end of the line and she told me that Dad had pancreatic cancer and it was terminal. I dont actually remember much else of what she said because I was concentrating so hard on not breaking down. As soon as the call ended i did collapse and a sound of anguish resonated form me and then the tears started.  People stopped to ask what was wrong but no words would form. i couldnt even wave them away in my collapsed state.  My friend CJ was with me, and I still can’t thank her enough for everything she did for me that evening.

Despite her protests and concerns I got showered and drove myself to the hospital as Dad was admitted.  The waterworks started as soon as I laid eyes on him. Somehow he was older, weaker, more tired looking than I had ever seen him and yet he was the one consolling me!  I thought normality and routine would help get through this so I continued to go to work every day. I worked for as long as he was in hospital. After two weeks he came home.

I would like to apologise to my colleagues at the time for not taking their advice sooner.  And, I thank them for being so understanding and forgiving.  I did take their advice, only after accepting that his condition was terminal and deteriorating fast. I wasted two weeks at work, stressing myself and colleagues out when I should have been at home with my parents.  I still smile when I think about the chats I had with my Dad when he was lucid.  The medication dulled him and his vitality and I now understand why patients dont want to take their medication.  I should also apologise to my mum, I wasnt there for her the way she needed me to be. I am genuinelly sorry Mum.

When He did come home, I did too – helping my Mum care for him.  We were actually a pretty great team.  I discovered a new side to my Dad, friends I never knew of and a realisation that somewhere over the years he found his faith again.  I knew my mum went to church but I didn’t know that my Dad had started going again. It was surprising. It was oddly comforting. But, most of all it highlighted to me how far I had pushed myself away from my family. I was a self professed work-a-holic who was also an athiest and stayed as far away from church as I could!

XXV February MMXIV is forever etched in my heart becuase that was the day my Dad was taken away. The gentle, caring, peace-keeping, honest, stern, teasing, hard-working, infuriating, stubborn, funny and most loving man I have ever known was gone.  And so began this new chapter in my story.

The four weeks from his diagnosis to his death, has taught me the following:

  1. Time is precious
  2. Life  is for living not exsisting
  3. Work does not define you, family does
  4. Death brings life
  5. I am loved

Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer, more often than not diagnosis comes to late for successful treatment.  The reseach is not as well funded as breast or testicular, or even kidney cancer.  I cannot thank CLAN and Mcmilliam enough for their support an advice and services, they are truly amazing organisations.  This Silent killer is very difficult to detect and I hope that if it affects your family you have the support, and love of friends and family just like my mum and I did.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Finally…

Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.