The year began brilliantly with the birth of GrandSon3 in Surrey, a second son for Elder Son and Daughter-in-law. Soon after this Younger Son and Nuora set off on the adventure of their lives when they left home to travel to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia to set up Blue Temple Conservation, a volunteer and research project aimed at investigating and raising awareness of the potential damage done by tourists and in particular scuba divers to the marine environment (amongst other things). We are incredibly proud of them for their courage and enthusiasm but we do miss them very much.
Then we went through a long lull, including a holiday in Fuerteventura followed by a lovely seemingly never-ending summer at home, enjoying the peace before the ... return of both Younger Son and Daughter to the family nest. YS and Nuora were with us for about six weeks before flying off to Italy for Christmas before they return to their island paradise for the second year of the project. Daughter, who had delightedly announced that she was pregnant again, and family moved back in with us when Son-in-law changed jobs and returned to Swansea's Morriston Hospital to work. As they haven't been able to sell their house but had found a tenant, they stayed with us for a couple of weeks before moving into a rented house.
And then it was Christmas.
I was officially due to retire in July 2015 but, this year, when I told the trustees of Linden that I was taking some time out from church they suggested to me, in that case, they didn't think it would 'be feasible' for me to continue to work for the church; they suggested I go away and think about it. I did the gracious thing and opted to take early retirement. I think I was the only one surprised by the reaction of the trustees; the more cynical of my acquaintances asked me what I'd expected.
So, I admit, it was with some slight - pain is too strong a word - maybe hurt is better - that I left in the summer. But I have to say that it was the best thing and I am so happy now not to be working. I don't think I'd realised how much resentment about all sorts of stuff had built up within me. How much of that affected my original decision to take time out from church I'm not sure but I am at peace with both decisions.
|Gathering for my farewell ice cream at Verdi's|
Three rejections for both novels 2 and 3 this year: it has seemed like more than that! Must get back to submitting again. On the positive side, just before the beginning of November, I finally finished novel 4, which I began during the 2013 NaNoWriMo. As I've said before, this is definitely THE ONE that will make my fame and fortune! So I'd better get on with editing and perfecting the first three chapters so I can begin the submission ritual.
I have continued to blog though less frequently and Facebook and tweet. I must start to take the self promotion more seriously if I am to network and do the sorts of things people tell me I must if I am to succeed.
I decided to take time out from Linden to concentrate on Zac's and I don't regret that decision for a moment. However when people ask me how it's going I have to shrug and say, 'Okay you know.' In truth I - and my hopes and dreams - don't seemed to have moved on but that has partly been through circumstances.
By its very nature it is almost impossible for a year to go by at Zac's without tragedy. During the year I attended three funerals and there were other deaths from the Thursday night coffee bar too. Of the funerals I attended two were suicides, young men who couldn't take any more.
But there was good news too. In the summer we had a double baptism in the sea and, as I wrote at the time, though none of the bikers were in attendance there were still enough of the Zac's family to substantiate the claim we make to be church. We have a small band of regulars, very different in many ways, yet each individual being accepted and loved as he or she is. It would be good to see the group grow, for some of the occasionals to become regulars, but what is important is that Zac's is a living breathing community that is changing and developing healthily.
Through Zac's I agreed to help support a single mum with a year-old son. That support became more of a commitment when she fell pregnant again, and even more so when Baby was suspected of being Downs (he is) and having a heart condition (it seems to be all right). I've seen enough of the inside of hospitals this year to keep me going for a while, thank you very much. But as of now, Mum, Big Brother and Baby are all doing well. She is coping admirably and just gets on with life, putting her children first in all things.
So in 2015 I hope to be able to really get going on plans to begin a day-time bible study for vulnerable women as well as reaching out into the massage parlours that are on Zac's doorstep.
All in all, 2014 was a pretty good year and my prayer for us all is that 2015 will be a time of wonderful blessing, good health - and fun!