A Frantic Serenity

Frantically Serene

(Sadly I’m not talking about a rush to make more episodes of the total excellent and criminally cancelled Joss Whedon series!)

Swimming gracefully on the still waters of a Lake floats the swan – looking serene and peaceful as it loftily looks down on the activity going on around it. As we know though, this is an image that belies the true level of activity going on and is merely an illusion hiding the churning waters underneath. The swan is in fact paddling like mad.

Four days after all the surface chaos that was taking place to secure our new home (pending all surveys etc…) things would appear to be like the swan. We’re waiting for solicitors, surveys, mortgages etc with the whole process taking anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks.

Any rumours of being able to take a few days to relax, breathe, and catch up are greatly exaggerated as we have found that we are unbelivably frantic – sorting out schools (primary, secondary and 6th form), trying to collate a list of all the services etc that we’ll need to contact, filling in forms and paperwork a-plenty. Then there’s trying to enjoy the experience by planning how we can layout rooms, what decorating we can do and in what colours, and trying to fully engage and excite the kids so that they can make the most of this and can create fond memories of this time.

Tomorrow we’re taking them all to see the new house, the first time they will have seen their new rooms other than via pictures on rightmove. It should hopefully prove to be fun for them and will provide us with more of a chance to map out more of the house – all the essentials such as power sockets, tv points, telephone sockets (all important things for a geek like me :-D)

Soon, thoughts will turn to packing up what we have at home (having done a load of packing last year in order to de-clutter the house) and making plans for the logistics etc…

This swan is going to keep on swimming 🙂

On the move…

On The Move

Back in July 2008 I posted on these very pages that we were being called to leave Stamford and move. It’s been nearly 5 years in the making (crazy I know) but it looks like we are now definitely on our way – we’ve sold our house and had an offer accepted on a house in Rugby. So, barring any unforeseen bumps in the road, we’re now getting set for a major step in the life of our family.

When I first announced the move we believed it was to Peterborough, but that proved to be part of a process where God was gently lifting our roots up and shaking away the excess before preparing to plant us where He wants us. There has been a lot of heart-work done over the intervening years – getting us used to the idea of moving, of leaving the area (Mrs H and the Kids have always lived in/around Stamford), of moving away from friends and family, and coming to a point where we could genuinely say “Here I am Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8)

There’s also been the odd false start, where we felt God was saying “GO” and then it didn’t happen. I’d be lying if I said that I knew why and that it wasn’t frustrating – we don’t fully understand the delays (maybe we never will) and it was frustrating, especially as we’d been telling the kids we were going to move and I really don’t like messing them around.

But that is hopefully all in the past now. We’ve got a buyer for our house, and they are good buyers so there shouldn’t be any problems there (hopefully). We’ve found a great house in Rugby and there’s no chain involved there so hopefully that shouldn’t be complicated. We just need to pray for all the final pieces to fall into place; mortgages, solicitors, surveys and timescales. We also need to pray for schooling and the right provision for the kids. A winning lottery ticket wouldn’t go amiss either 😉

The house we’ve found is a big surprise to us as it’s not something we would ever have normally considered. It needs some work to freshen it up a bit and modernise some of the decor, but it’s a house with character galore and with so much space you could almost lose yourself in it. The garden is a great size and there’s a huge (and I mean *huge*) workshop/shed/man-cave at the bottom of the garden with workbenches and all sorts (even a dust-extraction system that I thought was a hamster run!) so all those DIY projects and ideas will have a home to be started and then gather dust (only joking dear – I *will* try to get projects finished!)

It was a tense day yesterday, waiting to see if our offer was going to be accepted and then finding out that we were up against another family and having to go to a “sealed bid” situation. In the end though we won out and things seem to be clicking into place.

I keep joking with Mrs H about “Does it feel real yet” as there’s been so many hiccups and delays it’s almost a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it”. It also feels really surreal in a strange way, at points it has felt as though we’re just passengers and at other points it’s just been so much work and craziness that I almost gave up on the whole idea.

We’re not there yet. Until those contracts are exchanged, and the money wings its way through the ether to the relvant parties, there’s still scope for challenges – but this has the real sense of Gods timing to it. Our house sold in an amazingly quick time and our “new house” has come at the right time and offers so much more space than we had expected. There is a compromise in the number of bedrooms (3 rather than 4) but as the smallest bedroom is larger than our current largest bedroom we aren’t going to be short of space or storage room!

At the end of the day, all we can do now is provide the info that the solicitors etc request and pray that God smooths the rest of this journey so that we can move without any headaches (but probably with a few tears) and with a sense of excitement about the road that lies ahead. So please pray for us – as I said above we need prayer that solicitors, surveys, mortgages, deadlines, schools etc all fall into place nicely and that’s something that definitely needs a divine touch (as anyone who has ever moved house will no doubt agree!)

By the way – when we get a date we’ll probably come grovelling for help in moving… you’ve been duly warned 😀

Slavery didn’t end 200 years ago–it’s happening TODAY


TWENTY SEVEN MILLION.

I can’t make that number sound as big as it is. It’s a number that’s so big that we can’t visualise it.

If we counted 1 per second it would take 7500 hours to count. That’s 312 1/2 days. Nearly a year of counting 1 every second.

T W E N T Y  S E V E N  M I L L I O N

That’s roughly how many people are in slavery today. Human trafficking is huge business. It’s worth BILLIONS of dollars per year.

It’s not just happening in Africa, or Eastern Europe. It’s not just happening in the Middle East or Asia. It’s happening HERE. On our doorsteps.

Kids sold by their families into slavery, either for labour or the sex trade. Kids stolen, kidnapped, taken to a life that is literally hell on earth. They are sold promises of a bright future, of helping their impoverished families, of getting a new life that offers hope and life – they end up in a soul-destroying world that removes their humanity, silences their voices and makes them disappear.

IT MUST STOP NOW!

We need to be a voice. We need to be the restorers of humanity. We need to BE the change in the world that truly and utterly destroys this evil trade. Whether you have a faith or not – this transcends spirituality and speaks to our humanity. We ALL need to be crying out for the one person every thirty seconds who is sold into slavery, who is trafficked into a life of hell.

LZ7 and Matt Redman, along with Matts wife Beth, are working to raise the profile of this issue in the UK. There’s a single out NOW on iTunes and they are speaking out whenever and wherever they can. They are a handful of voices, shouting out in the UK… and we, if we want to truly be considered good human beings, MUST join the shout. They are partnering with the A21 Campaign, an international body working to end human trafficking and to shine a spotlight on the horrific industry that is so prevalent in our world.

It can’t be optional. It really can’t. If we are silent on this then we are condemning these millions to the lives they are trapped in. We have got to join the cry of an outraged nation and be vocal.

You might think that one voice can’t make a difference – but if you tell 3 friends, who then tell three more each then that’s 10 of you aware. Multiply that. Post it on Twitter and Facebook and see your friends respond, GET THEM to respond. One voice can lead to a thousand, who can lead to a million. It’s not that big a stretch of the imagination to think of this being shouted out in the media, in parliament, in the UN.

Visit the A21 website to get ideas on how you can get involved. Tell your friends. Tell your MP. Tell your pastors, your teachers, your neighbours, your colleagues. Buy the single and get the song played out across all radio stations and on the TV.

Watch the two videos below and please, TAKE A STAND.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ15rbJUnNM[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1pthSgxTC0[/youtube]

2010 – A year in review

faith

faithWhen Mrs H and I both felt God saying to us that 2010 would be a year of change, and where we would be shaken up, we never fully anticipated what that would come to mean or how that would change us but looking back now it’s fair to say that we’ve both changed quite a bit this year and that we’ve grown as a result of all that’s happened.

The year started out with me being ill on New Years Eve, so not the best start – but I was in a job I loved, working with people who were more friends that colleagues, and with plans for the company that had the potential to take us on to big things. We were looking forward to our first family holiday for 3 years and also the celebration of 10 years of wedded bliss. Church life was good, with me especially getting quite heavily involved in some areas and we were planning on pushing that forward more and more as God opened doors for us.

Continue reading “2010 – A year in review”

Misc Ramblings and General Randomness

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog here (sorry!) but life hasn’t really been too exciting really so there’s not been too much to say. Although that’s also a pretty poor excuse as I could have posted micro-updates. My bad!

So what’s been happening with all things Hartley? Read on for news, updates, videos and even a bit of desktop wallpaper that I designed the other day Smile

The job hunt continues on and on with not much happening on that front really but we are trusting in God and firmly believing in all the He has for us and all His promises. We’re still sure that God wants us to move elsewhere, and have even started to do some of that clearing out that always happens with a house move – going through books, toys, games and more to decide if we can car boot them, bin them, or give them to charity shops.
There are jobs out there, and I’m applying for plenty, but it’s obviously not the right job or the right time yet as I’m not getting much response. Your prayers are always appreciated though, especially with Christmas and birthdays coming up (our two boys have birthdays in December and January). Gods provision is keeping us afloat nicely, in fact the boat doesn’t even have any leaks – God never fails us and will always meet our needs.

The operation is drawing ever closer, 12 days and counting now, with the pre-op appointment next Thursday. Addenbrookes have asked me to take part in a research programme as well to test out a moving MRI system. Where you are normally pinned down during an MRI scan and cannot move a muscle, they are now looking at ways of taking MRI scans when you are moving to see the effects that movement has on your condition. In my case it will hopefully show some detail on how nerves are being pinched and how my disc and vertebrae problems impact me when moving. The MRI itself is a bit nervy as it’s like being stuck in a tight tube and gives me a real case of claustrophobia but if it gives more clues then that can only be a good thing.
The looming operation is beginning to play on my mind a bit, more and more each day if the truth be told, but that’s only to be expected really as with any operation. At least the operation won’t impact on any job opportunities or any capability to perform as the recovery process is basically sitting in a chair all day – what else does an IT guy do eh?

Mrs H and I managed to spoil ourselves the other weekend courtesy of Tesco Clubcard vouchers, going out for a nice Italian meal and then going to the cinema together for the first time in two years or so. We watched the supremely excellent RED, starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox and Morgan Freeman. The film was laugh-out-loud funny and the sight of Helen Mirren running around with semi-automatics and assault rifles needs to be seen to be believed. I can strongly recommend this film to anyone who fancies an fun, humorous, action film that is so cool it is frozen.
As an additional bonus we managed to get last minute tickets to go and see Jeff Lucas and Adrian Plass on Monday for the second date in their Seriously Funny tour. There were tears of joy and laughter, and tears of sadness – the evening truly was Serious and Funny and will be remembered for a long time.

October the 29th was a sad day for the UK Christian music scene as it was the start of the 2 farewell gigs by yFriday. We took our daughter to the event, being the first to arrive and in the queue so ensuring we got a great place to watch. yFriday have been around for over 15 years and have written many songs that have sneaked into the psyche of the Church. Ken Riley, the lead singer, has also collaborated with so many worship leaders and songwriters in the UK and the States with the best known result being the song “Everlasting God” as recorded by Chris Tomlin, amongst many others.

The supporting act for the gig were a “new” band called the Steels, who have worked with the guys from yFriday for a while now. I say “new” as they’ve actually been around for 8 years but have just signed with Kingsway records and their latest album, Supreme, is the first one to get really major backing and exposure outside of the north of England. All I can say is that they were totally brilliant and great fun on stage, whilst wearing their heart for God right on their sleeves.

I took a load of photos and video clips from the whole evening – and have so far uploaded two video to YouTube which are at the bottom of this post for your enjoyment Smile

Finally, I got a bit creative the other day after watching the rather weird, but also enjoyable, film “The Spirit” on TV. In typical Frank Miller style was a mixture of live action overlaid with comic-book elements and lots of Red, White and Black. I decided to copy the style in my own limited manner and came up with a desktop wallpaper which I am pretty pleased with, although I know it’s not the best piece of art out there Winking smile

If you click on the thumbnail image below you can view the image and if you right-click on it you can then “save as” to download if you like it – hopefully you will.

And finally, as promised, here are the videos of The Steels and yFriday – ENJOY! Open-mouthed smile

The Steels performing the title track of their latest album ‘Supreme’ at the Athena in Leicester
yFriday performing “Lord I Lift My Hands” a their penultimate gig in Leicester on the 29/10/10