Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, September 29

Stresses and reliefs

Lat week's stresses

  • Minibus handbrake seized up - took two call outs and three weeks to sort £168
  • Next day, minibus side door come off rails
  • Front of small car bent £400 excess
  • Need to arrange estimate/repair etc
  • My computer wireless connection constantly failing
  • Kids main homework computer cpu overheating
  • Had to write to school explaining why homework not done
  • Repeated purchase of parts on internet to repair it ? all failed
  • Purchased new computer £380
  • Son's computer constantly failing: repeated purchase of parts on internet to repair it ? all failed
  • sent son's mother board off for refund £55 postage
  • in view of above, no computers usable in the house
  • dishwasher not washing properly - purchased new machine £400
  • tumble drier not drying - dead
  • spare tumble drier not working - purchased new machine £400
  • I have 7 kids
  • One is a 2-month baby
  • lost sleep
  • disabled wife - I have to do a lot of extra childcare stuff on top of work
  • Judgement from 'Dragonfly' court case makes my job harder
  • I may have botched last year's tax calc and if so owe £4000
  • Lost camera for two days (now found)
  • Lost keys for one week - had to pay £10 reward for kids to find
  • Lost memory stick with all company account, company correspondence, all my photos, all my time management etc (now found)
  • Trying to work full time for two clients
  • One client's work got lost in a computer crash and I still have other serious bugs to resolve
  • Trying to negotiate my next contract
  • This needs a laptop and expensive software (£2000/month)
  • Bought laptop off internet but it didn't work and I had to send it back - still waiting for replacement
  • Local church politics (Assistant minister A divorcing B after suffering years of abuse in silence, therefore the ignorant 50% think A should be defrocked, Worship Leader C is a great friend of B, C is married to the church secretary D who has great influence - ie serious conflict in core staff team, worship leaders and other Readers resigning, etc)
  • National church politics - I still don?'t know where I stand in the gay debate but don't accept that uncertainty as a viable solution
  • I think I am heading for a nervous breakdown


  • I can trust in God
  • I have a beautiful, sexy wife who sorts out all my physical needs - if you follow my drift? grrrr!
  • My baby is gorgeous
  • My kids are the best
  • I have a huge house
  • I have work
  • I have resources for most of the above costs

Monday, September 8

Prodigal Auction

My daughter came to me on Saturday evening, and put a paper in my hand saying “#### asked me to give you this”.

It was a letter from my 14 year old son.

In it he confessed that he had mindlessly put a bid on a famous auction website for a car, and against his expectations, he had won, and was now liable for money well in excess of his funds. Plus, it would be very inconvenient to fetch the said car in another town. It was a very self-deprecating letter, full of genuine grief and remorse as well as panic for his situation. He did not expert forgiveness, but offered to pay what he could in pocket money and by handing over his computer.

I was reeling with the impact of the whole thing and taken aback by the fact that I was now going to have to stump up the cash. But mostly, I felt sad for him, hiding in his basement bedroom, worked up into such a state of self-loathing that he felt he had to send his sister with a letter, rather than face me himself. It hurt me that he called himself “a screw-up of a son”.

I consulted with my wife, and we agreed the problem had three aspects:

  • Re-affirmation of our son
  • Careful discipline of our son
  • Resolving the problem of the car

The discipline was relatively easy – it didn’t need anything heavy handed. We have been telling him for months he is not allowed a computer in his bedroom – now we could enforce that rule.

Re the car, we felt there was a binding contract and we would have to buy it with borrowed money, but then sell it straightaway to recover as much as we could.

Time for re-affirmation. I couldn’t go down to him straightaway – other kids going to bed, incoming phone calls, etc - but at the first break I went down, and found him flushed in the face and full of tears. (This is the rough tough footballing son.) I explained I would take the burden of dealing with the car, and that we would move his computer out, but mostly that the self-deprecating aspect of his letter was out of place for a son of God, a valued one for whom Christ died, and a son that made me proud. I could not shout – I could only hug him. And he received the hug, which normally he would not.

Cutting a long story short, we contacted the vendor and explained the situation. He was very understanding, and agreed to ‘mutually withdraw’ – which I hadn’t realised you could do on the auction website. All we had to do was refund him his listing fee, a small amount which my son agreed to pay.

The phrase ‘cutting a long story short’ includes all the prayer! Prayer which was answered.

So there we have it – a living prodigal son, a living parable of the undeserving who is loved not because of what he does but because of who he is (the son of the father), and whose repentance opens the floodgates of forgiveness.

Tuesday, September 2

Bent my car

Isn't it terrible when other road users believe they can exert their right to occupy a particular bit of road just in front of you in a perfectly legal and considerate manner? Should they not be held accountable for doing so when I am going too fast downhill in the wet?

No one hurt, except my pride. Just bumpers, wings and lights knocked out of line.

Well its the first time I've been in a vehicle collision that was my fault since 1988.

Translation for Americans: Tyre = Tire, bumper = fender.

PS - I was within the speed limit, just failing to look through that big window at the front of the car.