So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

So, 2014 - how was it for me? If I wanted to sum it up in one word, I'd probably have to say 'mixed'; if I was allowed two words 'fair to middling' - sorry, that's three words - this is beginning to be not unlike the Spanish Inquisition sketch. This post isn't going to be well thought out, or edited prettily - it's fairly 'stream of consciousness' writing. I'll probably miss out important things from my year - but this is how I feel about my year now...

In lowlights, helping Linda trying to 'sort out' her step-mother's affairs in the wake of her father's death and supporting her through her grief must rank 'down there'. Having an infected insect bite, which caused a little 'health scare' of its own (some doctor, who perhaps ought to have known better, suggested that I was diabetic - it turns out that I'm definitely not) wasn't the greatest moment either. Church work 'got to me' in a big way at one stage too, and I began to wonder whether I could continue as churchwarden at all, let alone 'see out' my possible maximum term of office - stressful.

In good and bad there's that health scare at the end of June again - bad because it was scary; good because it made me look at my diet and lifestyle and react in my 'usual' way - bull at a gate - 'I will beat this thing'. I pretty much doubled my swimming overnight, so that instead of having swum around 280-300 miles in the year, I've swum about 450 (will I manage 600 miles in 2015?). That has also meant that I've changed shape again - and lost a wee bit of weight… About 13kg (or two stone in old money).

I have also been privileged to be confided in by someone going through serious illness; someone who demonstrates the most amazing fortitude and grace, despite life being pretty grotty; and who still makes time and puts effort into helping others. A real inspiration, and a lesson to me.

God spoke to me in a very clear way, about my role as churchwarden; it is clear that I should continue, at least for now. Thanks to our very understanding vicar, and others of my colleagues, I have 'laid down' responsibility for some things. I have received an amazing amount of love and support from the congregation, and particularly from close friends - it has been quite overwhelming; so much so that it's hard to find words to express my gratitude to them and to God - 'thank you' seems so inadequate. And I am really enjoying the job again… Hopefully that's noticeable in my demeanour on Sunday mornings!

Right at the top of the it's all good list, our dear old friend Chris married Woodsie. What an amazing match. What an amazing day we spent celebrating with them. And it continues… They gave each family who came a 'bauble' for their Christmas tree (Christmas is the big celebration in the Woods household), which is hanging on our Christmas tree, reminding us of that day, and of the amazing way God has of healing past hurts and bringing restoration:

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten -
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm -
my great army that I sent among you.

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Joel 2: 25-26

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It's hard to top that. We've been on holiday - a lovely peaceful few days camping in the North Lakes; a week staying in a cottage on Anglesey. Beautiful countryside, good food, what more could one want from a holiday?

So, it's been bad, indifferent, and good, by turns. But the one constant, through it all, has been the overwhelming goodness and blessing of God and His people.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022