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.