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Friday, 21 May 2010

Not so great surprises

The Lord is teaching me to be on my guard for the little things which if not handled well can easily develop into something big and ugly.

Little things like this...

Alan is addicted to boats. I tried to choose my wording there carefully but addicted was the only thing close enough to describe this mans passion about sailing. He had his first sailboat when I met him but because he was very poor, no - not just regular poor but VERY poor, he decided to sell his boat to buy my engagement ring so we could be married. From the moment he told me what he'd done I've been trying to find a way to get him a replacement. Last Christmas I scraped together our pennies and bought a very run-down, needs a LOT of work but has potential sailing boat that he could fix up and use.

Fast forward to yesterday...

Alan has been rushing to get the boat finished these last few weeks so he could put it in the water this weekend. Functionally the boat was pretty sound and sea worthy but asthetically it was in need of a huge makeover. Alan had talked extensively about needing to paint it and had said to me several times, "want to paint my boat?" to which I always replied, "no thanks - that's your baby to do with as you'd like". When he took my inside for the first time he commented, don't worry I'm going to paint this white and you'll love it. He even surprised me by telling me he was going to name it "Mary Belle" for Beautiful Mary.

awwwwwww :)

Well, seeing that I had done nothing to help him and that he only had a couple of days remaining before his planned launch I decided to surprise him by cleaning his boat up really well. I'm pretty terrified of heights and so getting on the boat was a challenge but once I did I set to work and scrubbed and scrubbed to try to get it clean. Unfortunately there was no denying it needed a paint job so I decided to go to the boat paint store to buy what I needed to touch up the red sides and then paint the inside white like he had asked.

£46 pounds later I left the boat store and headed home. By 4:00pm I had finished the red and painted about 1/2 of the white and was running out of both paint and time. I so desperately wanted the whole boat painted before Alan got home but in the end decided he'd be happy with what I'd done so far and I'd tell him I'd finish it on Friday in time for him to take it out on the weekend.

I went inside and showered and waited for him to get home. In fact I waited upstairs by the window to see the expression on his face when he saw his new, clean painted boat. Unfortunately when he arrived he didn't notice anything and came straight inside, then there was a pause and I heard, "Mary - what have you done to my boat?" But it wasn't in a good way. It was in horror. I waited and watched him go back outside and when I saw the look on his face knew I had done something terribly, terribly wrong. It was as if I'd murdered his first born.

I told him I wanted to surprise him and that I had painted it just as he said he wanted it - white inside and out and touching up the red but he just looked at me like I'd stabbed him through the heart and then he said "oh I'm surprised but it's not in a good way... it's a terrible surpise!"

Well I was crushed. Apparently when he said he wanted the boat white he didn't really mean white - he meant he wanted to touch up the ugly cream that was already there and when he said he wanted me to paint the boat, he was only joking. I was so sorry I had spent my entire day going up and down the ladder, to the boat store twice, to the hardware store for paint thinner and more brushes and in the end only made a complete mess of it. Ha - I even took things to spruce up the inside like a little survival kit, family pictures, books on sailing, etc. He hated it - everything - hated.

Why is it the little things in life have such a big impact whereas the big stuff we seem to handle in stride? I promise you that the boat situation was far worse then most of the things we've had to face as a couple together. In reality though - it's nothing~! I tried to surpise my husband because I loved him doing what I thought he wanted and he hated it. So what!? It wasn't as if I intentionally tried to hurt or harm him.

He got upset because something I did wasn't perfect. So what!? Isn't he allowed to dislike some of the things I do? At least he was honest - brutally is probably not saying it strongly enough but hey, he didn't just tell me he didn't love me any more, was leaving and was having an affair with a married woman!

Why is it so hard for us to put things into perspective? Why do the little things rattle us so much? Please God sort out the little things so that we don't blow them up to be big things.

In the end our housegroup made us laugh as we retold the story last night. Mercifully we also got to hear stories of other funny husband/wife disagreements and differences. We're so grateful for our church and the love of the people there. God is good - though the big things yes but even more so through the little.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lots going on - God is good

I've been busier than anticipated and haven't written for a couple of weeks so lots of updating to do.

First I'll say that my appeal against my dismissal was denied on the basis of being able to fire any one for any reason within their first year of employment. What is the most tragic thing is that everyone involved knows I was fired because I was extremely vocal about my faith and because I challenged the leadership of the organization to behave in a Christ-like way. Sometimes it's much easier just to silence your critics than repent and behave as you know you should. The CEO, who is not a christian, has made a lot of bad choices and has struggled. Most we've talked to believe it won't be long before he is forced out. Our lawyers told us we could fight the decision at an employment tribunal and that it was a clear case of unfair and wrongful termination but that given the laws in England we could not anticipate damage awards beyond what STF has already given so we told them we thought it was a waste of their time. We're grieved for the entire organization but we will wipe the dust off our feet and move on to bigger and better things ahead.

Speaking of ahead... Pioneers. Today I am working on our anticipated budget for Germany which is difficult given we will be the first team to locate there. Still, we have to put something together so we can begin raising funds so I'll base it on our budget here in England which will be about right from the comparisons we've seen. Within the next month we hope to get a final interview with Pioneers to get our appointment letter and then God willing raise our funds within 3-6 months so we can go to Germany by the first of the year.

In the meantime I believe God has been telling me to start helping out more in our local church and in one of the ministries out of the church called the Ministry of Food led by the same man who started Pater Noster, a ministry to the people of Romania. This week I have worked two days doing admin stuff for his charity and I will go down all day tomorrow as well. Right now the warehouse is in Liverpool so that's where we operate out of although it's a Wirral based charity. The goal of the ministry is to take unwanted but still good food from food manufacturers that would otherwise end up in landfills and distribute that food to the poor by means of dozens of charities in the Merseyside, Cheshire and Flintshire areas. It's a good ministry that deserves support and I hope that by helping them 1-2 days a week I can alleviate some of their workload.

Alan has decided to stay at STF until we move to Germany but he changes his mind occassionally and would like nothing more than to hand in his notice and be gone in a month. Still I think he can have a ministry there representing true christianity but will support any decision he decides to make. Alans freetime has been consumed with getting his sailboat sea-worthy so he can sail it this summer before he has to sell it when we move to Germany. The boat has cleaned up well and I think it'll be in the water before the end of the month. We got a used outboard for it at a steal of a deal and he was happy about that.

The other big development for us both is our continued involvement with the church. I've started getting more and more involved with the youth through helping with the band practice, the Wednesday night core group and the Friday night activities. They are a great group of students that could turn Birkenhead on its head in the months and years ahead. It'll be exciting to watch them grow in their faith and become the leaders I know they can be. Alan and I also started a prayer group on Sunday morning before church that we hope will grow. We continue to lead our housegroup out of our house on Thursday nights although we never know from week to week how many we'll have. My hope is that God will really move in our church and that more people will come to know the Lord and those that do know Him will be renewed in their walks and feel more joy and peace and relief from suffering. England is a dark place but God still loves this country and wants revival to begin with His church.