Planning ahead…

I’ve had a couple of people ask me what my plans are for the 60 activities and I have to say it’s not final yet. Flexibility is going to be quite important in this. But it’s only fair to give you an idea of some of them. Ideas always welcomed…:

*Live reading of all verses and chapters with 60 in within the Bible

*Go to the top of the Shard

*Finish the Pilgrims Way

*Do 60 Random Acts of Kindness

*Take a trip to meet persecuted Christians

*Swim 60 lengths of a swimming pool (maybe within 60 hours)

*Visit places within 60 minutes or miles by different means

*Refresh guitar skills

*Bake 60 buns

*Grow a beard for 60 days

*Help a local refugee family

I am hoping to go to Holy Island on Sunday but feeling a bit off-colour and not allowed in the retreat centre with a cold. So wisdom needed-if I confirm booking I would lose all the money if I didn’t go 🤔

A couple of videos to finish with…it’s to stand alongside these people I am doing this. Your support is appreciated.

Le Tour de Rochford….

One of the things I have down for my 60 activities is to get to different places that are within 60 minutes travel. So today I got on my bike and got as far as deepest Paglesham. This is what I took a photo of after an hour looking towards Burnham on Crouch.

Overall I did nearly 30 miles which given I haven’t been on my bike for a while wasn’t too bad. There were some lovely autumn colours especially near the church at Paglesham.

Once again it’s good to reflect on the freedom I have to to do this on a lovely (if windy) afternoon. For so many around the world just to have a bike is a privilege. And to be free to ride it for leisure for many is a dream. What do you and I take for granted? Let’s remember those who need our help.

Something afoot…

Last night I had my first ever virtual GP appointment and today I got my antibiotic cream for my infected big toe. It was not getting any better (nail going blue now) and I was warned by the doctor about the danger of an abscess without treatment. A toe nail on the other foot is falling off too!

Well, Adrian, really wanted to know that I hear you say! But, re-iterating what I said last week, if one part of the body hurts all the body shares in its pain. I have attached a link to the Open Doors “Standing Strong” conference on the evening of 3rd October. It’s free to sign up to and you can hear live from Christians in three countries around the world about what is happening on the ground. It’s always really good.

https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/standing-strong-2020/standing-strong-online/

Finally, an update to my Great North Run position. I actually came 1906th out of 9453 (42nd out of 523 in my age group). A slight tinge of disappointment-training times were better. Why is this important? Because really it isn’t important. It’s so easy to measure ourselves by our athletic positions, our job titles or our qualifications. I am so prone to this. But fundamentally life isn’t about individual accomplishments but about what we contribute to a much bigger picture. How well have you and I loved, on the micro and macro level? I have much to learn, especially from people who in the world’s eyes have no accomplishments….

The Virtual Great North Run…

It is done! Thanks for all those who prayed for my feet-really appreciated. They stood up to the run really well. But it was my legs that were really tired and it was hard work to keep going especially as the lactic acid built up. A matter of mind over matter and not giving up or stopping when I really really really wanted to. I was so exhausted. I was reminded of the calendar in my kitchen which quotes Galatians 6:9 in the Bible “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”. To anyone who is reading this and struggling with something in life, keep going, one step at a time, looking to God for strength.

For those who are interested in statistics, I got slightly different times from Strava, Garmin and the official time. The latter was 1:55.21 which was 877th of the 10 067 starters in the first wave. So OK.

Thanks for all your interest and support in what I have been doing. That’s all the major physical activities for the moment. But I will keep you up to date on all the smaller activities that are planned. Any suggestions welcome!

Finally as I did the run I remembered (at times when I wasn’t thinking of my legs!) those who are persecuted for their faith. Who are stuck in prison cells in places like Iran and can’t run. For those who are stuck in really dark situations, rejected by family and community like in the Middle East and SE Asia. For those who are isolated struggling to keep the faith on their own in North Korea. For those in northern Nigeria who fear for their very life. Your donations make such a difference to these people. Thank you 🙂

Number 10591

Looks a bit impersonal doesn’t it? Not one to stand out in the crowd! But that’s my identity; that’s who I am this Sunday; number 10 591. Isn’t it great to know that we are more than just a number; that we are known personally and loved for who we are. That we are unique to our heavenly Father.

I am Number 10 591 in the virtual Great North Run on Sunday and I will wear my number with pride. But many are just numbers in a prison system or on a list carefully monitored by surveillance authorities. Their number is an identity for mistreatment. They have dared to think differently; to have and live out faith.

10 591 did their final training session today; times getting better but feet not great. I’m hoping and praying by 9:30 Sunday they will improve.

Finally, a big thank you to each and everyone who has given so far. I’ve been able to thank those who have left their names but to those who have donated anonymously, a huge THANKS! I do appreciate it. You know who you are and so does God. Persecuted Christians will be very grateful for your kindness. May you too be blessed.

Reflections…

Well, I almost feel normal again today! Not realised how much physically the walk had taken out of me-been shattered and even taken after dinner naps! I must be getting old…Feet are slowly recovering too I hope but still not great.

Yesterday I did my first run for 10 days. One of my slowest ever but at least I got out there. It’s the virtual Great North Run (half marathon) on Sunday which I intend to do if possible. It was being registered on that which started this whole mad escapade…

To date I’ve raised around £450 so many thanks to all who have donated. 7% of the way to the £6k target.

I’ve put together some thoughts that stand out reflecting back on the trip which hopefully are of broader application are:

*We are all on journeys whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual

*Don’t underestimate the journey-the additional miles to the accommodation were especially hard

*Journeying takes us to completely new places (most of the way for me) but sometimes back to the same place (e.g. for me, Denbies Vineyard at Dorking) to re-iterate earlier learning…or lack of it

*There are some lovely surprises and delights on the way

*There are unexpected conversations-be ready

*Sometimes it’s a monotonous, hard, boring grind that you just need to get through to get to your destination

*It is good to have travelling companions (like Rob on the first day) and a back up team praying

*Learn to be flexible especially when you get a little lost and don’t panic

*You need a good guidebook and map (the bible is a good one for life)

*Carrying a heavy load (in walking and in life) drags you down in every sense-keep your rucksack light!

*Physical tiredness and pain bring emotional vulnerabilities forward-I didn’t always handle these well.

*Rest is as essential as activity

*The feet are really important-if one part of the body suffers so does the rest (like our persecuted family)

*Singing and praying are good for the soul.

*We walk in the steps of those who made the journey earlier.

One of the songs I sang quite a lot was “He who would valiant be” from the “Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan as the words are great. Bunyan wrote the book from Bedford jail in the 1670’s where he was imprisoned for his nonconformist beliefs. Times change but persecution still exists.

Thanks for your support and interest.

I have walked 100 miles…the finish line (for now!)

Well, actually around 120 but only 85 count as the Pilgrims Way with the rest primarily extra mileage to accommodation. And that’s Phase 1 of the Pilgrims Way finished having done the stretch from Oxted to Otford (near Sevenoaks) today. Up and down the North Downs and going past a vineyard. But it was tough going physically and each mile was hard won.

Walked past Chevening, which belonged to Earls of Stanhope. The adjacent Parish Church had Jane Austen’s Uncle as Rector for nearly 40 years. Apparently his vicarage was the inspiration for that in “Pride and Prejudice”.There is no escape from Jane Austen!

One nice thing today was seeing Spitfires fly over on a number of occasions-sorry no photos-but a reminder that victory can be a hard fought thing.

Well, I’ve woffled on each day and I hope some bits have been interesting. And I will be back next year to complete it. The next big activity is on Sunday (the Great North Run). Hopefully my feet will have recovered in time…

I am hopefully just a signpost. Without them we get lost. This isn’t all about me but about pointing to the needs of persecuted Christians and how, together, we can make a difference.

I hope you have enjoyed these blogs and I will do a further review of the whole experience. But if at any point you feel inspired to donate that would be a real encouragement; just go to the justgiving link on my homepage.

And finally thanks for those who have encouraged and prayed. No man is an island; we all need each other. Without you and the Lord I wouldn’t have made it this far!

When 8 turns into 15…and Quality Street.

The guide book says it should be 8 miles from Merstham to the edge of Oxted. But it turned into 15. So very tired but lots of good things. It was a much prettier route along the ridge of the North Downs. Felt in the countryside though really close to the M25 and you could see the centre of London in places.

The walk started at a street in Merstham called Quality Street. JM Barrie wrote a play about it and then Mackintosh made a sweet selection. So here is where it started! These blogs are nothing if not educational!

Another fascinating thing was a diversion to visit a church at Chaldon which has a wall painting dating from around 1200 about heaven and hell. With limited literacy it was a way of telling stories from scripture with a stairway to heaven central but seemed a bit gory and not sure how biblical. It includes a drunk pilgrim…I may have had an odd half but not got that far! There is also a T a pilgrim carved into one of the pillars.

A highlight of today was to meet people along the way and chat. John-thanks for stopping on your bike on the long ride to Brighton, for being so enthusiastic and praying for me. And Adam, biking the North Downs Way may you have a great time and know Jesus has a great adventure for you.

Tomorrow is another 15 miles or so then it’s the end of this phase of walking. I just need the last spurt of energy. As won’t be back home until late next blog could be Monday. Thanks for all your interest and don’t forget those whose daily Pilgrimage is a huge challenge…

http://www.opendoorsuk.org

Walking in the woods..

I expected today to be relatively easy but it was hard. Whether I was tired after yesterday or because so much of it was walking up and down woodland tracks with limited views. Or simply poor attitude. But sadly reaching the destination became the aim rather than really engaging in the journey and it was a bit of a drag. Even supposedly enjoyable things can become a trudge sometimes.

This definitely ranks as one of the hardest things I have done. With a marathon the training is really hard, as is the race. But you’re done in a few hours. But hats off to long distance walkers who keep going day in, day out; this is quite an endurance exercise.

It reminds me that to follow Jesus in many countries is an incredible endurance exercise. In many places like Pakistan they are often the poorest of the poor. In places like Somalia it can be a death sentence if others hear of your faith. This is true endurance; of really counting the cost. That’s why coming alongside to bear their burden is so important.

These are the steps across the river at Box Hill with the other view about a mile further on. Box Hill was where Emma embarrassed Miss Bates in the novel of that name.

I have also added a some other photos; a nice shot in the woods; a view of the North Downs and a shot above Reigate. From Reigate you could also momentarily see the London skyline in the distance. I’ve also included one of a massive limekiln-the only way to get the lime is to heat it. A bit like life’s heat refining us.

Hope you have a good weekend and thanks for reading.

Walking to Dorking…!

After yesterday being a tough one emotionally, physically and spiritually today was much better. 18 miles but though very tired it was actually mostly very enjoyable. I know a lot of people prayed and that made a real difference. My feet have survived if not very fragrantly: I have a new respect for Jesus washing the disciples feet after a days walking.

This is St Martha’s on the Hill, a few miles from Guildford. Apparently you can see 11 counties from here, though probably not today. Quite a climb and very sandy. There aren’t many churches dedicated to Martha though she was very loved by Jesus.

I stopped for lunch at Shere in a 15th century pub. Great grub. Pretty village. For you allotment holders out there (you know who you are) they had nice allotments too. And the church yard had a little statue to Wesley quoting him “Do all the good you can; to whoever you can; whenever you can…etc”

I have climbed over more Stiles than I care to remember-sometimes really hard to raise the energy. And kissing gates that you can’t get packs through. But when you get to the top of a climb you sometimes get a great view.

Being a pilgrim is a funny thing. I ended the walk near Denbie’s vineyard outside Dorking. 3 and a half years ago I came there for a training run in preparation for doing a marathon in Lebanon. I could never have imagined that I would be retracing parts of the exact same route. Sometimes things come round again in a slightly different way for us to learn from them.

Ps After escaping Jane Austen yesterday there is a connection to Dorking. More tomorrow…!

Pps If the gentleman I met on the way reads this (I also chatted with a priest)-Jesus was more than just a good man; he didn’t really leave that as an option in the gospels. I owe him my life, my soul, my all.