Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

It's the last day of the decade and haven't the last ten years gone quickly? It really doesn't seem long since we welcomed the new millenium. As we come to the end of the 'noughties' we are concious of just how each of our lives are so tenuous. Just yesterday we celebrated the life of Anita's Uncle Des at his funeral, and were reminded of the kind of values that really count and make life rich in purpose and hope. Des was such an amazing, Jesus loving human being who always found time to listen and to encourage. He will be missed.

As we spend the next few hours and days wishing family and friends a Happy New Year, I hope we can also live in the grace that only God gives should life not be so 'happy' for us. We hope and wish the best, whilst knowing that it's in the valleys where we really discover the kind of strength needed to build values in our lives that will last the day.

One of the most challenging thing about life is not just dealing with tough times but the consequences of enduring these many moments of trial. We have said many times that we are so grateful for family and friends who have relentlessly cared for and supported us in our wilderness. The reality is that we each need to learn to adjust to whatever life brings us, asking our God and Father for all His help in keeping faith strong - whatever the outcome.

We are praying for Anita's friend, Karena - and her husband and lovely family. Their battle continues and as we wish them a Happy New Year we are concious that real happiness is not a superficial feeling but a Godly inner contentment and hope that gives an assurance that this present life is only the beginning of something SO much better. So in wishing whoever reads this blog a Happy New Year, may you know the inner peace that only God can give.

This comes with lots of love, Steve and Anita

Monday, 30 November 2009

Miracle Week

It;s been three months since a blog post - a sign of our times in that life has resummed it's busy pace after a year of Anita's treatment. The big issue is to try and not keep too busy! Anita is keeping well and her own hair continues to grow back. She currently looks like Annie Lennox!

There is always something happening in our family and the last week has provided another instalment. Last Tuesday Katie was rushing to care for Charis who had literally stopped breathing. Paramedics arrived and Charis was fine but Katie had hurt her knee and was taken to A & E. She came home with a suspected torn muscle and the anguish began as we thought through how support might work.

To cut a long story short, we went with some church friends to pray for Katie. As we prayed Katie felt heat going through her knee and after prayer, the swelling reduced and the splint used to help support her leg slipped down, finally removed by Scott. Katie stood up and said her leg felt better!! By the next day Katie was back driving and apart from some small bruises, her leg has been fine since. Katie is due back at hospital on Wednesday for a check up.

What can we say - apart from thank you God!? We pray for more stories like this in the coming days - there are many needs around us.

We are praying for God to completely heal and restore our friend, Karena. She has been unwell for a long time now and it would be SO good for God to touch and heal her soon.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A year since D Day

It's been over a month since our last blog entry. Since the last entry we've been on holiday to Wales for a week, laid a new patio, started a new football season, Steve's had his 52nd birthday, we went to see u2 and Elbow in concert at Wembley and we've passed August 13th which was Diagnosis Day (D Day) last year, 2008.

We can't believe a year has passed by so quickly and so much has happened, especially to Anita. The end of treatment brought relief, followed by much adjustment, especially for Anita. She has had moments of feeling low and we understand from our excellent practice nurses that this is normal and repeated by virtually everyone going through similar treatment.

Whilst we have known God close on the journey, nothing can prepare any of us for the variety of life issues and traumas that come along. We can only know the strength to face the day and trust that God will again ppick us up when we fall down.

The post treatment time seems to be when we fully face into what has happened and the implications of what has happened. We rationalize feelings by saying that whilst treatment has been tough and literally left it's scars, at least we have life and are together. I have noticed just how important self-esteem is, especially to a woman. As a husband I want to help nurture and re-develop what has been taken by finding ways to help Anita feel better about herself.

Today I have a prayer and study afternoon and have been praying much as I was back on D Day. I am reflecting on the promise from back then, "he will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast; trusting in the Lord, his heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes."(from Psalm 112:7-8). In a sense our lives have appeared to contradict these words because we have had to deal with many fears - usually involving the thought of premature death and separation. As I think about it now, these words themselves have helped free us from fear and to actually experience the security the Psalmist speaks of.

Now we are praying for friends who remain in similar battles. . . . . .

Monday, 6 July 2009

Celebration Week

What a week of celebration last week was. At the beginning of the week Anita completed her final round of radiotherapy and we had an appointment with the Doctor to confirm that there are no more hospital visits for nearly three months until September. Already this feels like a massive change to our lives and we are grateful to have some 'normality' back. What started on August 13th last year really did seem like a mountain to climb but now we can look back in deep appreciation for so many people who have given us so much along the way.
Our celebrations really took off as we had the privilege to witness Beth's Graduation last Friday 3rd July. Beth now has a BA (Hons) to her name after acheiving a 2.1 in her Social Work Degree. She has started work today! It was a special day as together Anita and me, along with Jonny and our two Mum's were able to watch Beth receive her Degree from the University of Reading Chancellor, Sir John Madejski. During Friday evening we were able to take the whole family (minus grand-children!) to the Oracle for a great meal at Bella Italia.
We are ready for a holiday in order to try and catch up of some rest and some very kind friends are letting us use part of their property in Wales for a week soon.
One of the things having to deal with fighting cancer has done, is to have opened our eyes to a whole "community" of people who are each going through treatment for different cancers. These are a truly amazing community of people who help provide encouragement to one another. I have been amazed to witness the sense of humour that sometimes exists in the waiting rooms for chemotherapy and readiotherapy.
Things we are grateful for:
  • Getting to this point in our journey and for Anita's general well being despite everything she has been through
  • Beth's achievement during a time of varied and great family pressures - and for all our family who have each been a great help and encouragement. We are proud of all of our girls and their lovely families
  • Our church family and friends, who have stood with us in the trenches and in the wilderness. thank you for your special care and sensitivity to us. You are in our hearts.
  • Friends who have cared through text messages, letters and cards - these have so often arrived at exactly the right time.

Things we are praying for:

  • In our celebrations and thanksgiving we are VERY concious of friends who are at various stages in fighting the battle against cancer. We stand with Karena, Jo and Penny and so want them to come soon to the day when they can celebrate. Please pray for them, their spouses and families.
  • Anita's body to fully recover from treatment and surgery - this takes it's toll and we really don't want anything adverse to happen to her in the months and years ahead.
  • Wisdom and insight as to how we can support people from across the communities we are part of, who are dealing with cancer related issues and battles

Thank you everybody and thank you God!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

News Update

As ever in our lives there is lots going on and things move fast. Even utilising such things as a Blog is difficult to keep up to date!

As mentioned in the last Blog entry, Katie was in hospital at the weekend. She went home on Monday and after a couple of further days feeling quite ill, she is now improving and the contractions have stopped. It would be great if the next time she is in hospital (other than for consultations) is when baby is born at full term.

Anita had her 10th radiotherapy treatment earlier today and continues to do amazingly. As mentioned before - next Monday 29th March is the final day and we'll probably go out for a meal together to celebrate this milestone which seemed an absolute eternity away during the middle of last year!

Also next week we are looking forward to Bethany's graduation at Reading University. Beth knows she has passed and on Friday we'll dicover her grade.

Things we are grateful for:
  • Getting close to the end of the treatment journey and still having a sense of humour!
  • Beth's achievement in successfully completing her studies
  • Katie being home a getting better

Things we are praying for:

  • Suffering friends: As well as previously mentioned people we are praying for, we pray for Penny and Malc. They are seeing a Consultant today as Penny has been having scans for suspected cancer issues.
  • We are advertising for a couple of key roles at church and praying for God to help us find the right people to successfully apply for the jobs
  • The general well-being and protection of our fast growing family!

Thanks for your interest and care - much love, Steve and Anita

Friday, 19 June 2009

Pray for Katie

It's 11.20pm on Thursday evening and we have just heard that our eldest daughter Katie has once again gone into premature labour. Katie has started having contractions and has gone into hospital. Katie is now about 28 weeks pregnant. Please pray for protection for the baby and Katie, and that Scott and Holly will know God's peace at this time. Thank you.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

On the Home Stretch!

At last we are on the home run - today Anita had her 7th radiotherapy session and 29th June is in sight, the date of the last treatment. After a difficult start each treatment is now straight forward and usually Anita is not in hospital for very long. Exercises are tough and somewhat painful but Anita does really well.

Beth and Jonny have just got back from a holiday in the U.S. and Beth has found out she has passed her degree. Beth will find out her grade a week on Friday. All her hard work has paid off and we are very proud of Beth's achievement.

I have just got back from two days at a "Learning Community" with St Andrews Church in Chorleywood. Linda and Ben from our leadership team at church were with me as we explored and planned for developing the exciting vision for Mission Communities. The stories were really encouraging from the five other churches represented and although we have come home tired, we are also very motivated and inspired to work this out at Brookside.

We have also been excitedly thinking about Helen and Giles' wedding next Summer, helping to explore their options for the reception.

Things we are grateful for:
  • Anita's strength and relative well-being during radiotherapy
  • Beth's hard work paying off and a job to go to in July
  • The prospect of another family wedding next year!
  • Generous churches such as St Andrews in Chorleywood

Things we are praying for:

  • Anita to finish her treatment well and everything to have worked to plan
  • Energy and rest - or is it rest and energy!?
  • Families and marriages to be blessed

Friday, 5 June 2009

Radiotherapy Started

After a difficult day on Wednesday we are "pleased" to report that radiotherapy has started and Anita completed her second cycle at lunchtime today - only 10 more to go! Although this is the home straight, this kind of feeling has probably duped us into thinking things will be easier when the reality is that Anita still has the effects of chemotherapy in her body and so she is still battling through. I am proud of the way she copes with such discomfort and presses forward.

Today I had my appraisal and Linda and Eileen were a great encouragement in bringing some helpful insights and wisdom into the way I work. I love being part of the church I am helping to lead - it's such a great environment to belong to and relationships exist that strengthen us - not least in times of pressure.

It's been a big day for the Royals and we are very pleased to welcome our new manager, Brendan Rodgers. Brendan was at Reading when I started my role as chaplain. Since then he has worked alongside Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and came to Reading after a short spell managing Watford. We look forward to a new era under the leadership of such a great person.

I am speaking at church on Sunday and we will be looking at how we can "Make God's Love Tangible." In the midst of such politcal turmoil and economic gloom, as God's people we have a responsibility to love those around us with the same love God has for us all. We have good news and a hope that extends beyond the turmoil around us. I want to do all I can to help motivate and inspire people to generously give away what we have received from God.

Today we are grateful for:
  • Medical science that helps to deliver healing and restoration to us when we are unwell
  • Co-workers at church who help bring the best out in us
  • Hilary, a friend at church who deserves a wonderful 70th birthday this weekend

Today we are praying for:

  • Minimal side effects from radiotherapy and strength for Anita

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Not so good to go

Today we went for what was due to be Anita's first round of radiotherapy but alas it was not to be! After an uncomfortable session when the radiographers tried to correctly line things up using information from the simulator, they had to stop because something was incorrect and treatment has to be very precise. Tomorrow morning we go back to have planning re-done. This was disappointing as it means a delay in starting. This will probably be next Monday now.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Good to Go!

Well, not completely but radiotherapy is starting anyway next Wednesday 3rd June! We were at hospital for a couple of hours this morning and although Anita needed the Doctor to drain some fluid, she had her radiotherapy planning along with some very small tattoos which are used as accurate markers to direct treatment. Starting next Wednesday means radiotherapy will finish on Monday 29th June after the twelve cycles are complete. This is great as it means she will be finished a few days before Bethany's graduation at Reading University on Friday 3rd July. We are taking the family out for a meal after Beth's graduation so there will be plenty to celebrate.

Waiting for Anita this morning was quite an education. In the waiting area in the Radiotherapy Clinic there were several ladies, each of whom who are travelling a similar journey to Anita. One of these has had a particularly difficult time and she could not complete her chemotherapy. This lady led a series of funny stories and another woman who was just waiting for her mother who was having treatment, commented on the humour that was floating around the room. It struck me as amazing that even in the most difficult times, humour and fun have such a key part to play in helping people deal with pain and suffering. I realised I was sitting in a world that up to 10 months ago, I didn't realise existed. You can't help but be moved as you sit among the suffering.

Last Sunday at Brookside, Bart was speaking and talked about the "mystery of suffering" and how we cannot mature 'in God' without some knowledge of suffering. You can hear his talk at

This time last year we were planning a trip to Ecuador and had no idea where we would find ourselves a year on. It's just as well we don't know what's around the corner but it doesn't half help to have a relationship with God that helps to keep you in a place of reasonable peace and security.

Today we are grateful for:
  • The start of the last leg of the journey - last August it felt like it would never end
  • The good health (!) Anita has experienced along the way when it could have been really difficult
  • I (Steve) have been amazed at how Anita has dealt with everything. She has been amazing and a very special wife.
  • For friends, forever friends who have literally been journeying with us and for our family who have rallied and demonstrated love and care.

Today we are praying for:

  • Kelly's daughter who has been poorly and having convulsions
  • Anita to cope well with radiotherapy and for it's success in finally hammering any issues invisible to the human eye or technology
  • Anita's friends Karena and Jo who are beating cancer with prayer and treatment
  • Katie's body to work well in enabling the baby to grow and develop in the womb

Monday, 18 May 2009

Radiotherapy delayed

We had our weekly visit to the hospital today. Anita was due to have her radiotherapy planning session. Unfortunately due to the fluid not completely going and the radiotherapy simulation machine being out of action, the planning could not take place and should now happen Tuesday 26th May or even the week after. After initial disappointment, we realise that four weeks after surgery is still very early to commence radiotherapy. Six weeks is nearer the norm. So hey ho!!

We went shopping instead!!

That's all to report at the mo, so we are going to watch a film and veg out for a couple of hours with a glass of wine.

We are grateful for:
  • Living so close to the Royal Berkshire Hospital
  • Scott's new job - he started today

We are praying for:

  • The fluid to go and no more seroma clinic's needles
  • Katie to continue to keep free of contractions and the baby's health
  • Sleep, and more sleep!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

He's Keeping Hold

I love this picture. For me it captures who I am and who God is. A Father refusing to let go. At times it doesn't feel like this. But it is. We sing a song at church . . . "O no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm, oh no, you never let go through every high & every low, oh no , you never let go, Lord you never let go of me."

The facts are that we each go through storms in our lives at some time or other. There are pressures, pain and problems. I was reminded of this once again yesterday when I drove Anita to Chandlers Ford to be measured for a prothesis. It made me feel sad . . . but grateful because treatment is going well and God had been holding on to us.

Next Monday Anita goes back to hospital to meet with her radiographer in the RBH Radiography Department and then she will start radiotherapy three times each week for twelve sessions in total. In the meantime it would really help if the fluids that keep collecting following the operation would stop and her body would be as whole as possible ready for radiotherapy.
Katie is recovering well from the events of two weeks ago and last week Anita went with her and Scott for a scan. All is well with baby!
Tonight is a massive evening for Reading FC. We play Burnley in the 2nd leg of the play-off semi-final and are currently trailing 1-0. The winners of the game will go to Wembley to play Sheffield United for the prize of once again playing in the Premier League. We are hoping for a great performance and an exciting evening - ending in celebration for the Royals and their supporters.
Next weekend our friends, Jane, David and Caroline are climbing Ben Nevis in aid of The Bethany Children's Trust. They have been working so hard at this, raising funds for this wonderful charity who support and care for children in many nations. Also this weekend, Anita's boss Simon, starts a long cycle ride from John-o-Groats to Lands End, this is also in aid of a Children's Charity. At 4.00pm this Saturday at the home of Reading Town FC in Scours Lane, our church football team, Brookside St Lawrence are playing in the Churches League Cup Final against another Reading team, Bethel.
In finishing this blog entry I'd like to refer you back to the picture at the top. Do remember that in whatever circumstances, pressures or pain you might be going through, God wants to be a Father who will never let go of you.
Today we are grateful for:
  • The amazing progress that Anita has made and is making
  • For the little baby being carried by Katie and whom we can now see a picture of
  • Friends who give so much of their lives in working to raise money and profile for others in need

Today we are praying for:

  • The fluids to stop building up in Anita's body ready for radiotherapy
  • Ongoing protection for Katie, Scott, Holly and baby
  • For our friends to keep in good health next weekend as they walk and ride

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

KT Update

Thanks to those who are praying for Katie. The contractions stopped early yesterday morning and baby's as lively as ever! Katie is exhausted now and is being sick because of the medication she has been on. The Doctors are keeping her in hospital for another night tonight and our prayers and hopes are that she will quickly gain strength. It's also been very tiring for Scott as he looks after Holly and is backwards and forwards into hospital.

We have reflected on Katie's pregnancy with Holly and in many ways this was tough, right from conception. We are continuing to pray for protection for the whole family and that the contractions don't happen again until full-term and the best time for baby to come.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Please Pray for Katie

Our roller coaster life ride continues relentlessly. Having had great news about Anita during the week, and having had the timely visit of Bill Johnson to Reading last week bringing a message to believe for healings as part of the demonstration of God's kingdom - our daughter Katie went into hospital on Friday afternoon.

Katie is 20 weeks into her pregnancy and has started contractions and been having them since Friday. We'd REALLY appreciate your prayers for Katie, her husband Scott and our grand daughter Holly. At church today everybody prayed together for the contractions to stop and for the baby's life to be preserved and for him or her to be born at full term.

I spoke at church today from Psalm 27 and described how much these verses have, and continue to bring clarity as we journey through tough times. Sean Dooley from Thameside Church brought this Psalm as a devotion at the Reading Leaders prayer gathering at Greyfriars Church last Wednesday morning. Do have a read and give some consideration to them as they help us see the way in which we can find safety in the storms of life.

The Royals missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League. There have been some "knife-edges" for us this weekend! Still, the boys are in the dreaded play-offs and we could have a trip to Wembley to look forward to.

Today we are grateful for:
  • Listening to the healthy heartbeat of the baby inside Katie and feeling all the kicking going on!
  • For our church family who are gathering around us and standing with us like these things are their very own battles
  • The launch of our new church website - well done Dave!

Today we are praying for:

  • The contractions to stop and for Katie to get quality rest
  • Protection for her unborn child
  • Strength to face another week and to deal with things confidently knowing our Father loves us and will care for us

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

It's gone!

Today we heard the news that we have been hoping and praying for. Anita's consultant surgeon told us that the remaining nine lymph glands removed during her recent surgery are cancer free! The chemotherapy did what it was supposed to do and we are very relieved and grateful for the wonderful news.

After letting family and friends know by the wonders of texting, our mobile telephones have been very hot during today. We have received lots of lovely messages celebrating the news.

The next climb involves radiotherapy, probably starting at the end of May. It's been 37 weeks since the original diagnosis and at last we are reaching towards the finish of intensive treatment. What seemed a journey that would last forever now feels somewhat different. Anita still has quite a bit of pain and discomfort from the operation and so we would still really appreciate prayers for healing to continue at a good pace.

We were both able to attend most of an exciting and encouraging two-day conference hosted by Reading Christian Network. Bill Johnson and his team from Bethel Church in Redding, California brought teaching and inspiration to many hundreds of Christians from across the Reading area and there were lots of stories of people being healed.

We are also very happy about two nights of great football results - the super Royals beat Norwich 2-0 to keep their automatic promotion hopes very much alive. Tonight Chelsea did what no other team has done this season by not conceding a goal in Barcelona, drawing 0-0.

Today we are grateful for:
  • Obviously the news above . . . . . .cancer has gone!
  • Lunch out together to celebrate
  • Our son-in-law was offered a job in Reading
  • Bill Johnson and the grace and insights he brought to us all in Reading

Today we are praying for:

  • Pain to go and more sleep!
  • Karena and Jo and their families
  • Terese to recover quickly

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Keeping Perspective

Who would wished to have swapped places with the Chancellor yesterday? Not easy to prepare and present a budget in the current economic climate. He was always on a hiding to nothing. We must pray for our government. Yesterday we went out for lunch and a walk with some close friends and wandered through Ipsden Woods looking for the amazing carpet of bluebells that can be found this time of year.

Our friends were looking to capture some stunning photographs and we had to wait for the sun to break through the clouds and burst between the trees. As this happened the change in perspective was amazing, the colours sprang into life in a new way and it was a "good to be alive moment." As we walked back to the car we talked about the economy and how fast things are changing and the impact on our culture which has become so consummerist. It's only when big, usually shocking things happen, that we are jolted to re-think our lives, priorities and values. Some good will inevitably come from the current recession. Another friend of mine has been reviewing his life and wants to spend time working and serving in areas that really count rather than staying in the rat race of life. These are defining times and although pressures might be great, we can find new and fresh purpose - especially if we are secure in knowing our Father, God's love for us.

A few weeks ago we produced a Spring Update and as I have not yet discovered how, or if I can create a hyperlink to it, the only way we can make it available to those who have not seen it but who would like a copy is if you e-mail and ask. I will then forward it as requested.

We took the picture above whilst we were away in Wales a few weeks ago. It took great timing to set up the camera on the bonnet of our car and then to run and pose. You would never know this action had happened seconds before this picture was produced. None of us really knows what's really going on in and around each others lives and what we present can be so different to reality. thank goodness for friends with whom we can be real and yet still loved.

Today we are grateful for:

  • The slow recovery process that Anita's body is going through
  • The sun that brings to life God's creation in beautiful ways
  • Perspective that so often comes through relationships
  • A new bedroom which is nearly ready - we've been saying this for a few days now!

Today we are praying for:

  • Karena who is having an operation at the RBH today. praying for her, Craig & family
  • Jo who will be having some chemotherapy. Praying for her and her family
  • Sleep! One of the hardest parts of the last eight months is sleep depravation.

Thankyou everyone for your love, care, generosity and prayers!!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Home Again

After three nights in hospital and surgery that appears to have gone well, Anita is back home. She is feeling pretty good and whilst there is some pain Anita says she is more comfortable than when she had the lumpectomy before Christmas. Anita is grateful for all the kindness of the nurses and staff of Hurley Ward who cared for her so well. Steve asked if Anita could stay in hospital a little longer in order to continue to catch up on some sleep!!!

Once again thanks to everyone for kind messages and cards, and especially for prayers that continue to help and sustain us. More news as the week continues.

Today we are grateful for:
  • Obviously Anita being well enough to come home
  • The skill of the surgical team and the fact that everything went so well

Today we are praying for:

  • Good healing of Anita's body and especially for her arm - that she won't have any problem with lymphoedema
  • Good news on Tuesday 29th April when we have an appointment at the hospital for results from the lymph glands that were removed. May God continue to keep us in peace.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Surgery imminent

Having had to postpone Anita's operation it is now due to take place in two days time. It's a challenge to deal with the thoughts surrounding what is going to happen and a big thing for Anita to face, both now and afterwards. It was shocking to read in today's newspaper about a 19 year old girl who has had a double mastectomy in a bid to prevent getting cancer because she is carrying the genes associated with breast cancer. As a man it is difficult to comprehend the effect on a woman's femininity and self-esteem when such an operation is needed.

Of course our hope is that such invasive surgery will clear any lurking pre-cancerous cells associated with the original discovery. Today is Wednesday and I (Steve) usually try to take Wednesday afternoon's to pray and read, setting time aside to seek God. I have to say this has been hard in recent weeks, not least because of relentless tiredness. Having said that, today has been good and I sense God has been speaking to me for the church as well as personally.

On a personal level I was reminded of the verse God gave me five minutes before I heard from Anita on August 13th 2008, diagnosis day. Psalm 112:7

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes."

The reality is that we have tasted fear and anxiety, and concern. God has given us feelings and emotions and our challenge has been to actually listen more carefully to God's promises and encouragements, often through a variety of His people. We are looking forward to the end of this particular chapter when we'll be able to look in triumph over cancer, sickness and even death. It's one thing having belief systems but quite another for these to be the experience of our hearts and minds.

Today we are grateful for:

  • Relative peace ahead of Friday's surgery
  • Not being alone in the journey - Anita had extensive text communication with a friend from church this morning which was just the right conversation at the right time
  • A pleasant few days around the Easter holidays to catch up with jobs and enjoy the garden

Today we are praying for:

  • Anita's health to be generally good ready for surgery and for freedom from any infection
  • The surgeon to have great skill and insight - doing the best job humanly possible
  • For Anita's time in hospital to be as good as it can possibly be

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


In the midst of roller-coaster lives we are thrilled to announce that our third daughter Helen has got engaged to Giles and they plan to marry at the end of summer 2010. Giles proposed the "proper" way by asking us back in January and we managed to keep the exciting news quiet as Helen didn't know he was going to ask her when he took her to London last Saturday evening. It's great to have another special day to look forward to and this Thursday evening both families are getting together at ours for a meal and celebration.

Anita is doing well and busy preparing for tomorrow's celebrations. The hot sweats are ongoing and it would be such a blessing for these to ease up. It would also be good if the arm Anita took all the chemo injections in could recover more prior to surgery next week. This causes her arm to ache somewhat. Our builders are due back soon to finish our bedroom and so we are hoping to be back in there soon after the Op.

It's Easter week and we are remembering and celebrating the the greatest moment in history - grateful for such an amazing act of grace. Jesus died for us to live, giving us a hope and a future beyond this life.

Things we are grateful for: Helen and Giles engagement and looking forward to a more complete family for her boys.Sunshine. Scott (Katie's husband) has got a new job working in Slough after experiencing redundancy last week, God is good - all of the time!

Things we are praying for: God's blessing on Helen and Giles as their relationship goes to another level. Anita to sleep well and protection over her health ready for next week. For the impact of the Easter story to touch lives and bring hope - and for the Easter Children's Club that started today at Brookside with lots of children coming.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Operation Date Change

Having just returned from a wonderful break together in Wales, Anita became ill during the night having caught some sickness bug. It's possible that my great idea to get some KFC on the way home was not such a good one as it could be food poisoning from the chicken. The upshot of this is that Anita is not well enough for surgery tomorrow and will now have her operation in two weeks time, on Friday 17th April. This is disappointing in that we had prepared ourselves for the big day and Anita had got as ready as she could do from an emotional point of view. The other side of the coin is that there is more time for our bedroom to be finished before going into hospital. So we are trusting that God's timing is best and whilst we definately don't want the sickness hanging around, perhaps there are reasons we cannot see for the delay.

Did you know you can add your comments after any of our updates by clicking just to the right alongside the label at the end of each section?

Today we are grateful for: Our Father who works all things together for the good of His people, Our GP and surgery who are fantastic and a beautiful day.

Today we are praying for: Healing and recovery for Anita and for strength ready for surgery in two weeks time, Bart's film to be completed and for him and Linda to get on well at Pinewood Studios today, for all the world's G20 Leaders to have wisdom and courage in times such as these.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009


Thanks to our very kind friends in Thameside Church, Reading, we are having a fantastic few days away together in mid-Wales. We have been staying alongside a beautiful Lake, Lake Vyrwny which is a resevoir. It's an amazing location with some wonderful scenary. We are just next to Snowdonia National Park and have enjoyed some lovely drives with the top down on our car.
The break is proving to be perfect before Friday and all that will accompany it. We've been able to enjoy rest and very special time together. It's been incredible to see how God is providing for every step of the journey. Tomorrow is our last day before heading home and we are looking forward to having lunch with Derek and Mary Munday. Derek was our GP in Reading before moving to Wales and he and Mary were part of our church for many years, having brought leadership and laid some of the foundations for what we enjoy today.
Today we are grateful for: God's provision and faithful friends, creation and healing it is to our souls, our family at home.
Today we are praying for: Chris M's Mum who has had a stroke and an operation today, Anita's friend Karena who is being treated for cancer, our children and their families, for strength ready for Friday.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Here one minute, gone the next

This is the cherry tree outside our house. For between four days and a week each spring the blossom is beautiful and when the sky is blue it provides an exceptionally wonderful sight. Then the wind blows and the blossom is gone until next year. A pity really as the tree is not great to look at without the blossom - for 51 weeks each year!
The winds of life blow against us and sometimes enforce sudden change and dramatic adjustment is required. This transition can involve loss, even mourning what was once there - and might even return in a later season. I always feel slightly sad when the blossom disappears because of the great contrast. One aspect of the illness that Anita is fighting is that it has brought sudden change into our lives. Change that requires adjustment and change that means understanding that it takes time to both deal with loss and to gently and carefully try to respond to needs in each other that have moved.
God's grace is amazing. It's what fuels His love for us all and we seem to be the recipients of His grace as we receive His comforting words deep into our hearts and spirits. It seems to take time for our emotions and physical bodies to catch up with where our inner person or our spirits get to as these are nourished by God's word.
Although we are involved as leaders in God's church we are very much concious of our humanity and frailty. We can only fight another day in His strength.
Today we are grateful for: Spring! That Anita is well enough to have gone with Beth and Emily to see Oliver at the theatre in London, as ever - our friends who are caring and loving relentlessly, God's grace.
Today we are praying for: Anita to gain strength ready for surgery next week, perfect love to cast out all fear, tiredness to lift from us both, God's blessing on everyone from our church who are involved in a marriage course away together next week

Friday, 20 March 2009

Spring day out at RBH

What a great week for weather!? Today we had an appointment with the Breast Care Nurse who helpfully talked through with us the various aspects of forthcoming treatment for Anita. It's into hospital for surgery on April 3rd and then around four weeks later this will be followed by four weeks of 3X radiotherapy treatments per week. It's hard hearing all the associated "stuff" that we have to look forward to and there's no doubt this is all long haul. Feelings are strange and it's difficult to stop them from straying away from confidence in God as our sustainer and provider. Alway's easier to worry and get anxious. The gentle flow of bible verses continue from many sources and undoubtedly help us to keep re-assured and full of hope.

Our bedroom is taking shape, despite the extra work the builders have had to negotiate. It's a wonder our house is still standing! It's all going to be good when finished. We've booked three nights in Snowdonia for before the Op so hopefully this will help relax and refresh Anita (and me!). Something else to look forward to is the U2 and Elbow Concert at Wembley in the Summer. We have managed to get tickets and will be taking Scott and Katie. It's important to have things to look forward to in life.

Today we are grateful for: The lovely Breast Care Nurses at the RBH, wonderful weather and Spring is here, friends (a couple of whom are taking us out for a meal tonight), the internet and the facility to express things on a blog like this.

Today we are praying for: Strength to process all we have heard today, the next few weeks to be successful in respect of surgery and treatment, for the Royals to play well and be injury free, the ability to give thanks to God in every situation we face in life

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunny Day

What a fantastic day - the sun is still in the sky after all! Everything feels better when the sun is shining. We took this picture in Yosemite National Park whilst on sabbatical and on holiday traveling around the west coast of the U.S. The sun breaks through from behind one of the many pine trees and the scenery is breathtaking. we so loved enjoying this experience together during our 25th anniversary year.

Anita is picking up after a few days of being washed out and we are hoping for a good week. This last week we have been touched by the feedback of people who have read our recent update and the special picture of Anita that is in it. It reflects the reality of her life at present. Anita stayed at home this morning as I went to church. Church was both dynamic and encouraging as many shared honestly about their lives. We are in a significant place in our journey as a church together. Whilst we each may carry disappointments in life, God is our Father as He loves us profoundly.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A New Bedroom

Anita told me that not many wives would wait 19 years to have their bedroom decorated! Today the builders have arrived to strengthen the floor of our bedroom as it sits on small ceiling joists that were never designed in the 1930's to carry the weight of bedroom furniture. We have had to wait (very patiently, Anita!) for this to be done before we can decorate. It seems that we have been able to do this at exactly the right time - Anita is slowly recovering from the effects of last Friday's last treatment. On April 3rd she will be having surgery and so we are hoping all will be complete when she returns from hospital.

Tonight I am taking my 3 son-in-laws and Giles out for a curry. We have three married daughters, Katie, Emily and Bethany, who's husbands are Scott, Carl and Jonny respectively, and our daughter, Helen has been going out with Giles for 2 years now. We have four beautiful grandchildren, Jamie, Ellis, Liam and Holly. Some recent exciting news is that Katie is pregnant with the baby due in September.
Today is Red Nose Day and at our church we are holding a special fun event tonight in aid of Comic Relief. I arrived at the church office today to find a Fiat Panda in our main hall so we are in for an interesting time. The football club are supplying a signed ball for us to auction and at the top of this post you can see a picture I took yesterday of Kevin Doyle signing a similar ball at the Training Ground.
Today we are grateful for: our builder starting work that should mean a nicer bedroom for Anita to recover in after the Op, for the many friends who have written and e-mailed lovely messages following Anita sharing at church last Sunday, for the strength God gives us to face and deal with the pressures of every day, life!
Today we are praying for: A friend who's son (37) is ill in hospital - we are praying for Andrew, Anita to recover quickly and to be able to enjoy the weekend and to gain strength for the surgery, for the Holy Spirit to protect the life of Katie and Scott's new baby, for Karena to experience God's healing.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Last side-effects!

It's the middle of the week and right on cue the side effects from Anita's last chemo treatment have resummed. She is coping well, not least because it's the last time she needs to suffer the effects of a sore and uncomfortable mouth, tired and aching body and an overwhelming feeling of tiredness generally. Her nails are also sore but she's looking forward to no longer wearing the black nail varnish that may seem glamorous but is effective in protecting her nails from falling out.

Earlier today, i (Steve) joined with the forty or so other leaders who meet weekly together to pray for God's blessing in and around Reading. It was a great time and Paul from Sonning Common shared a word for me and Anita about God's love dealing with any fear in our lives. Another encouragement at exactly the right time.

We were discouraged by last night's game as the Royals struggled to draw 2-2 with bottom club, Charlton. Not even the return of old boys Glen Little and Dave Kitson could help inspire us to a much needed home win. Still, Ipswich come to town on Saturday. . . . .

Monday, 9 March 2009

After the Weekend

Our weekends can be quite busy, especially when the Royals are playing at home. The boys earned a draw at Plymouth, whose Chaplain is the Pastor who conducted our wedding 30 years ago. Jeff Howden was Pastor at a little church in Shinfield and is a good friend. We had originally planned to go and stay with Jeff and his wife, Janet for the weekend just gone - so we could then go and watch the game. Things didn't work out so we had to settle for the highlights of a 2-2 draw. Charlton at home tomorrow - another easy game!? I don't think so.

At church yesterday we had Vernon and Jenny Orr with us and Vernon spoke really well. Vernon is vicar of St Agnes Church in Whitley - as well as two other churches in the area. It was special to have them with us and we enjoyed a time that is symptomatic of a strong level of relationship and unity across many of the Reading Churches and Christian organisations. At church Anita did SO well in sharing very openly and personally about her journey through chemotherapy. I was very proud of her and the impact of her life in many lives around us seems to be considerable. Going back to Vernon's message to us, he encouraged us to move into the destiny God has for each one of us by;
  • Welcoming prophetic insight and messages
  • Receiving impartation from others whenever we can
  • Aligning ourselves - getting positioned to receive from God

Vernon urged any of us who might be carrying disappointment in God to face into this and deal with it. For anyone interested in hearing Vernon's talk it can be ordered from our church office (Tel: 0118 9664474) and soon our talks will be available on our new church website.

Just before the weekend we heard that a builder we have been speaking to is able to start some significant structural work and decorating in our bedroom. Our bedroom sits on joists that were originally designed as ceiling joists and not mean't to carry the weight of a super-king bed and all our bedroom furniture. The challenge is that he is going to start work this coming Friday and so today we have been busy clearing out what has taken us nearly 20 years to gather. You can imagine what its like. We have to empty our bedroom and move downstairs for a couple of weeks. Anita goes into hospital for an operation on April 3rd so we're hoping that the work will not present any major hitches. Anita is tiring and beginning to ache following treatment last Friday. Afew days of taking it easy now this week for her.

Today we are grateful for: Having a home that we can work on and relax in together, for children who help us, for friends who keep in touch and encourage us, for kebabs for tea that still taste OK

Today we pray for: God to meet the needs of our children and their families, for sleep, for side effects to be minimal

Sunday, 8 March 2009


Welcome to our brand new blog. Our aim is to try and maintain and care for it as much as we can. We've had lots to say in recent months since Anita was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Anita has just completed a cycle of eight chemotherapy treatments and it has felt we have climbed the first mountain. This is a picture we took whilst in Ecuador last year whilst visiting our special friends in Quito, Ecuador. Somehow the dark clouds and the mountain paint a picture of what it's like to battle cancer. We are grateful to God and to our family and friends for the incredible level of love and care we have been shown whilst on our journey.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

We hope to provide a limited insight into our lives, thoughts and opinions - and we welcome your feedback and comments. The other current pressure in our lives is the topsy turvy nature of Championship football! Our team, Reading FC or the Royals are doing well at the top of the league, bidding to return to the Premier League at the first attempt. I (Steve) am club chaplain which means giving time to be available to everyone associated with the club and stadium, as well as the supporters when I conduct committals for their families.

We are involved in leadership at Brookside Church, Reading. Steve leads the team and works for the church. Anita is also part of the team. We never cease to be amazed by the church and are also working alongside great friends from across the churches and organisations spread around the Reading area.