The scribbling here on Youthblog has always been a mix of Youth Ministry and a personal blog (with a huge overlap given that youth work/ministry is the lens through which I often observe my life) and I sometime wonder about what the balance should be. So far it seems to have lurched along retaining some sort of coherence, at least this is my conclusion given that some readers are friends who are not connected with youth work, some readers connect only in the arena of youth work and some people are either both (or have come to be). Furthermore, all of these groups and sub groups seem to happily continue to read the blog from time to time via a Feed or ‘actually’ visiting
That was a bit of a pre-amble, I was thinking aloud about the fact this is a purely personal entry and the place of this.
It’s been my birthday in the last few days and the same day saw my dad dying. (The same day in fact that Dad’s mum (my Nan) died many years ago on my 18th Birthday). I now find myself to be 43 and a newly become orphan. As well as mourning my dad I am also feeling that loss of connection to the past quite profoundly.
1931 – 2010
The man I was proud to call Dad
For my birthday each year during the life of the blog I’ve added to a kind of semi-random autobiographical ‘snap-shots of life’ list . It feels a little self-indulgent but hey there are bigger blog-offenders out there. You’ll find ’43’ in the extended entry if you wish to look.
1. I was told by the teacher I didn’t have ‘a snowball’s chance in hell’ of passing my physics A-Level! (he was right)
2. I don’t have a TV
3. I wanted to be a Pilot for most of my teenage years, truth be told; I still would 🙂
4. My oldest boy has Cerebral Palsy and I consider him one of my heroes
5. I once crashed a car by skidding on gravel, Ironically I was listening to ‘Going out in a Blaze of Glory’ and crashed into the ‘Caution loose surface’ sign
6. I can ride a unicycle and juggle (not however at the same time)
7. I’ve been learning German from a book called ‘German in Three Months’ for the last 18 years, however 2009 saw the most amount of progress in years.
8. I played ‘Bottom’ in the Shakespeare play ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ at school
9. If there was a group of teenagers and a group of adults I’d most likely be talking to the teenagers
10. I have three wonderfully creative, chaotic, beautiful and funny Children
11. I laugh often and loudly
12. I have about 1000 books including a great CS Lewis and GK Chesterton Collection
13. I REALLY wanted a skateboard when I was a boy, I got my first one at 34
14. I can’t read ‘I’ll love you forever‘ to my children because I end up crying
15. I like listening to high energy Rock or Pop LOUD
16. I was very immature as a teenager, a late developer
17. Joanna and I have been married for 18 years
18. I love long distance cycle challenges and have completed the ‘Salisbury 100 (miles)’ three times, always in less than eight hours (I did crack (and bail out) on a TOUGH 115 mile Cyclo sportif event in 2006)
19. I can’t iron shirts (they end up with more creases in afterwards)
20. I love single malt whisky (and of those I love Talisker the most)
21. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of pain in the world
22. Joanna and I went to a Bible School in Austria which was an amazing adventure.
23. I am a passionate skier and went in 2007 for the first time in years, YAY
24. I broke my arm when I was six by jumping off the top of a climbing frame (but for some reason I told people I fell)
25. Christianity is my life and my hope, my struggle and my meaning
26. I have been knocked off my bike by cars 5 times, twice by hit and run drivers
27. I can’t sing! (At least not without other people complaining)
28. Bruce Cockburn’s lyrics and music have had a huge impact on me as well as providing a kind of sound-track to my life.
29. I am an extrovert most of the time
30. My Spiritual journey has also involved un-learning a lot of what I was taught
31. I haven’t really had a nickname. A teacher as school called me ‘McDafty’ which I hated, a bunch of teenagers on a camp once affectionately called me ‘Preacherman’ which I loved. I was also reminded by a dear friend that I was referred to as Dangermouse for a while!
32. My biggest regret is how poorly I lived out my faith during my teenage years (I didn’t do much that was contrary to my faith, BUT failed to do much that was in real keeping with it)
33. I feel closer to God in the mountains, for me that’s a ‘thin place‘
34. I am still friends with my previous girlfriends (these pre-date my marriage!)
35. I don’t like films with sad endings, I like films with a feel-good factor (eg Cool Runnings)
36. I get really wound up by able bodied people parking in ‘disabled bays’
37. I am a professionally qualified youth worker
38. Greenbelt Festival is one of the highlights of my year. The creativity, music, discussion and Christian community is for me a slice of heaven.
39. My favourite place in the world is Ramsau in Austria
40. School didn’t work well for me as the general opinion of the teachers was that I wasn’t very bright. This is largely why I am a MASSIVE fan of informal education and love being a youth worker. (I also think that informal education is a Jesus principle).
41. I’m trying hard to lose weight but a stay at Taize in 2009 seems to have helped me find more balance including my approach to food.
42. Both my parents are know longer alive, I miss them; I’m also aware that I feel the loss of the connection with the past quite deeply.
43. I’m surprised to find myself being 43 years old, how did that happen?