I’ve been talking about you

In my work I regularly meet with people such as church pastors over coffee or a meal. We talk about a range of matters but one of the topics that seems to come up again and again is family. My wife and my children are incredibly important to me so it should be no surprise that they are always in my thoughts and conversations.

Recently I was chatting to a pastor and once again our conversation turned to our families. We both shared stories of how incredible our respective children are, how quickly they’ve grown up and how proud we are of them.

That conversation about our children reminded me of a time long, long ago.

My dad worked on a ship travelling up and down the Western Australian coast. He was away from home a lot.

I still remember, one day when I was quite young, visiting the ship dad was working on when it was docked in Fremantle. I’m the youngest of five siblings and for whatever reason, on this day I was there with my eldest two brothers.

A man who also worked on the ship walked past and a conversation began. Once he was told we were ‘Tom’s kids’ he said something to the effect of, “You must be … “ and then mentioned our names. “Your dad talks about you all the time.” He gave us the impression that our dad was very proud of his children.

Wow! That was a revelation. Dad talked about us.

I would never have thought that when he was away from our family for weeks at a time that one of his popular topics of conversation would have been his children.

I don’t know why I found it so surprising but I did. It meant that I might just matter to dad.

All of that got me thinking.

Do my children know that I talk about them, endlessly?

Does James know that earlier this week while talking to a group of people about him someone mentioned how I immediately puffed out my chest with pride? They caught a glimpse of how much I love James in my facial expressions and body language as well as the words I was using.

Would Emily ever think that I often talk about how incredibly talented she is and that I’m so proud of her? Would she know that the picture I paint in others’ minds of her is of an incredible young woman who I love so very much, because that’s exactly how I see her?

Do both Emily and James know that even though I’ve had some amazing highlights in my life, they top them all? Do they know that even in the busyness of my life and work they are never far from my mind and my conversations?

Emily and James, you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you …. your dad talks about you …. all the time.

If you’re a parent, do your children know that you talk about them to others?

Do they know that when you’re away from them and you can choose to talk about anything in the world, you talk about them? Do they know that you’re always on your mind and in your heart? Maybe it’s worth telling them today.

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A New Season

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. – Ecclisiastes 3:1

There’s a lot of activity at my house this morning. The day has arrived.

In a few hours I’ll be walking my beautiful daughter down the aisle. It’s all part of a new season, a process that began almost twenty one years ago. The process of letting go.

One of the hardest realisations for a parent is the knowledge that from the moment a child is born you are in a slow, constant, bit by bit, process of helping your child transition from being dependent on you for everything to independence. While Pauline and I will always be Emily’s parents, and will always be there for her and Josh, another part of the letting go process happens today.

We are absolutely thrilled for Emily and Josh. From the earliest days of seeing them together we knew they shared something special. Today they declare their love for each other and their commitment to each other for life.

Today is such an exciting and happy day. We will continue to pray that this will just be the start of a marriage that will continue to grow and that being together will allow Emily and Josh become all they were created to be, both individually and together.

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This Year was Going to be Different

Wedding1992

December the 12th, 2012. I was in Bangladesh seeing the work being done to protect, heal and restore vulnerable young women, including those rescued out of forced prostitution.

December the 12th, 2013. I was less than a month into a new job, working for Compassion and I was at head office in Newcastle with the rest of the team from around Australia.

This year was going to be different. I was going to be at home to celebrate 22 years of being married to the most wonderful person I have ever known. I had missed our 20th and 21st but I was going to be there for the 22nd.

The plan looked flawless. Our annual staff gathering in Newcastle would finish at 3:30 p.m. on the 11th, giving me, and the others from the Western Australian team, plenty of time to get to Newcastle Airport to fly to Brisbane and then onto Perth. Unfortunately, due to bad weather in Brisbane, our 5:55 p.m. flight out of Newcastle didn’t get off the ground until 9:45 p.m., around four hours late. There was no hope of continuing on to Perth.

Last night was spent on a mattress on the floor of an extremely kind and generous colleague in a Brisbane suburb. Between the time we got there last night and the time we had to leave for the airport there wasn’t a lot of time for sleep and even then I found it difficult to drift off.

Now here I am, on the morning of the 12th of December 2014, our 22nd wedding anniversary, sitting on an aircraft bound for home. We should reach Perth about lunch time. I suppose I’ll have half an anniversary with Pauline. I’m looking forward to heading out for an anniversary dinner tonight. (While this post was written while I was on a plane, it was published after a very long but very good day. I finally made it home and we had a very enjoyable anniversary dinner.)

So to the woman who patiently puts up with me being away from home on special occasions I say thank you and I love you. There is no one I’d rather travel home to see. You have made the last 22 years more than amazing. There are still many times that I catch myself wondering how someone so wonderful in so many ways ever agreed to marry me.

Next year … next year will be different.

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It Was 20 Years Ago Today

(This post was written to be published yesterday but has only just been posted due to there being no easy access to Internet where I travelled in Bangladesh.)

On a hot summer day in 1992 said, “I do”. I was standing with the most incredible woman I’ve ever met and we’re still standing together twenty years later.

It’s an unusual anniversary for us because we’re many thousands of kilometres away from each other. I would desperately love to be spending this very special day with Pauline but circumstances have me half a world away.

I could never have imagined spending my life with such a beautiful woman and yet twenty years on and the dream continues. And Pauline’s not just beautiful, she’s smarter than she’ll ever admit, far cleverer, more caring and much more fun to be with than anyone I’ve ever known or will ever know.

How can words express how I really feel about this amazing woman who chose to share this journey of life with me? I still can’t get over how blessed I am to have Pauline by my side.

Pauline, thanks for walking down that aisle two decades ago. Thank you for saying, “I do”. Being with you still brings me the greatest happiness I’ve ever known. How about we stick at it for another twenty?

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Milestones

What is it about certain time periods that add extra significance to remembering our life history? Why do we celebrate milestones differently to anniversaries of events in other years?

I clocked up another year of life a couple of months ago but it wasn’t a milestone birthday. Next year, however, I’ll be hitting the half century so I’m already starting to think about what I need to do in the coming months to reach that occasion in better than reasonable shape.

While my birthday this year wasn’t a milestone, 2012 is a significant milestone year for other reasons.

Next month it’ll be 25 years since I first cycled across Australia, riding about four and a half thousand kilometres in five weeks to make my way from Perth to Canberra. I’ve cycled across the Nullarbor another four times since then but that first trip was obviously a significant life event. Each of those rides was part of Australia’s Bike for Bibles program which began in 1984, and that first ride in 1987 was the first ever crossing of Australia by a Bike for Bibles team.

It was 20 years ago last month that I flew out from Perth to go cycling amongst the Rocky Mountains in Canada. It was a short trip but I was there for the first ever Canadian Bike for Bibles ride. I was part of a small group of Aussies who made the journey to commence something wonderful in an amazing country.

While those milestones are significant, they don’t even begin to compare with three other events that changed my world irrevocably for the better back in 1992.

Event One: Twenty years ago, at the beginning of 1992, I met the most amazing woman I have ever known.

Event Two: Later in 1992 she agreed to marry me.

Event Three: In December of that year we were married, which means that this year we’ll be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary. 1992 was a big year.

Are you someone who takes note of milestone occasions? What milestones are you looking forward to celebrating?

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