Well, it's the end of the year, and what a year! So much has happened in an 'interesting' twelve months, that I'm so looking forward to a new start in 2009! The following are all stray thoughts and words of wisdom that I have learned in 2008 and share with you now (all bible verses are from the NIV):
January & February: 2008 began as 2007 ended - with much the same going on in my life. Life can be a bit like 'Groundhog Day' more often than not: you get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Each day is much like any other. Oh, there are times when you do something a bit different... my good friend Elizabeth lent me the book 'If You Want to Walk on Water, You'Ve Got to Get Out of the Boat' by John Ortberg, which indicates a little of what I have been trying to achieve in my life. At least I've started to get my feet wet this year....
March was probably the first occasion in the year where I boldly stepped out in faith and left my comfort zone during 2008, trying to explore new possibilities in my Christian service. It was the 'Exploring Leadership' day at the Wiliam Booth College. Well, little steps first! I know now first hand what was meant when the songwriter he wrote "Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, O’er the world’s tempestuous sea". I knew I was being led somewhere, but wouldn't yet know how rough the sea would get ...
April: some more foundations laid, when I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting to discuss the possibility of a Street Pastors initiative in Dartford. A very promising start - I'm looking forward to seeing some fruit from this one day!
May: Another step of faith was my weekend away to ROOTS in Southport over the early May bank holiday, which gave me further confirmation as to where I should be looking... This was followed by a very pleasant family week away in late May, camping in Wales - the first time I had ever been to that beautiful country, and hopefully not the last! How wonderful that the campsite had no TV or mobile phone reception, I'm sure that's why it was so peaceful!
June: A string of memorable events occurred in this month. Firstly, my first all-night of prayer, which proved most illuminating and uplifting. More, please! Secondly, and more devastatingly, was the shock of having my car written off in mid-June (at about three in the morning), and the subsequent damage to the courtesy car almost exactly a week later by a hit-and-run driver. In both cases the cars were parked outside my house at the time. You can understand that I was a little 'sensitive' that month - all these particular highs and lows all occurred within the same fortnight! Psalm 20:7 says: " Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
July: It's incredible what modern technology can do, for it was in July that I started this very blog. Some say they start blogging as a type of therapy, some because they have a need to write. I think my reasons are a little of each. Wow, what an eye-opener - I've been quite surprised about who gets to reads it and who passes comment!
August: As further opportunities of service that I tried to explore in late July didn't exactly work out, I spent much of August taking stock of my life, exploring what Andrew and Tracey Bale called 'sabbath rest' - a difficult concept. At least this meant I was able to take a short break away with the family at the end of the month, before the Annual Appeal... a good time of peace and quiet in Canterbury. And some really good Olympics coverage!
September: is of course the Army's Annual Appeal month, and thanks to a very good team the collecting went so very well this year, despite the 'credit crunch' and we even saw an increase in donations. September also saw the Corps celebrate the Battle For Bull Centre Centenary, a very uplifting event for the entire fellowship.
October: This seems to be a time of 'pruning' in my year, removing so much dead wood in my life, and this was reiterated at Harvest time. I've also been learning how to 'declutter', which is also quite tough, and getting the kids to do the same has been even harder!
November: Another great opportunity for me has been this trip to the Territorial Congress in Birmingham, which proved to be a further confirmation of where I should be headed. Some tremendous advice has been given to me by friends and colleagues, but nothing can beat the famous phrase "Don't lose your Dolphin" (thanks Don for these impressive words. They will stay with me always).
December: I've learnt this month (and indeed this whole year) that if you have a choice between two things, choose the one you haven't done before, the thing to take out out of your comfort zone. Leo Buscaglia said: "What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life." Looking back, I can see how far out of my comfort zone I have moved this year. Sometimes not by choice, but there you go.
Here's to a better 2009 - one full of the right choices....