I’m so in awe of nicky gumbel and i love him so much
Mum is the most devoted mother one could ever have the privilege to know as Mum. She is the epitome of self-sacrifice and unconditional love. I cannot think of a single occasion that she has ever put her needs before her children and she has certainly shown, throughout my life, the meaning of that beautiful conclusion of Paul that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). When Dad died she was only 43 with teenage children and no family around the corner. She went back to work full time as a nurse doing twelve hour shifts that started in the early hours so she could meet us after school or would go late into the night so that she could be with us in the morning. I am not sure how she coped but she was determined that she would do whatever she could to ensure that there was no opportunity in life that we would miss out on. I love you Mum so much, and words can never adequately express my gratitude for the start you gave me in life, how you have never stopped being there for me and believing in me, and never stopped giving to me all you have, all that you are. I love how you delight in the natural world, from your vocation as a theatre nurse to your amazing skills as an artist, gardener and seamstress, flower arranging, home making and cooking. You prepared the way for me to hear of God’s faithfulness, love and self-sacrifice. Thank you. I know that God was with you in a very real way, which I know you sense in the peace that passes all understanding. God bless you my dearest Mum. I thank God so much for you. You have been the greatest blessing in what has been a very blessed life. I was so thrilled that in1996 Mum married Harry. Harry is such a good Dad and has been there for Mum ,Nicky and I as only a Dad can in the joys and tough times. I love you Harry and I am so grateful for the way that you protect and support Mum in all the ways that I wish I could. Words are inadequate to express the love and respect I have for you. I am always in awe of the talent that Harry and Mum have for stewarding the preservation of village life ,from looking after the church ,setting up a village shop and cafe when the post office was shut ,and supporting the primary school ,all whilst creating a stunning garden that I love seeing around on the video tours that she has made for us all during lock down. Harry and Phyllis had two sons just a few years older than us ,and it has been amazing what they have done with their lives: Rob is a headmaster of the premier prep school in Scotland and Alex is general in the army and head of legal services.
Nicky was born two years before me and has shown me the way every step of my life. I have always looked up to her. My life has been marked by big highs and big lows, plus too much self generated uncertainty and insecurity but Nicky’s character and love has been a constant stabilising influence in my life.
Nicky has a lovely knack for making good choices and knowing what will make her happy. (I used to have an annoying habit common to so many younger siblings of copying her choices because I knew she was so good at it. I remember one meal out when she ordered, I copied her and as the waitress was leaving she quickly changed her order having sold me a dummy!) Even though as a boy and girl we were not in each other’s pockets growing up, we were very very close, especially on our family camping holidays, which were always the highlight of the year for us all. I attribute to Mum and Dad’s immense love and sense of family, picked up by Nicky from an early age, to the joy freedom and security I knew throughout my childhood years.
I have always been in awe of her staying power and perseverance. Without seeing how she approached her revision for her GCSEs and the success it brought her, I would not have followed suit and done well enough to get into Oxford so I have her to thank for that (as well of course as mum who I will write about separately).
What’s more she has been there for me as only a beloved sister could be at every high to give me support and rejoice with me and every low to give me support and grieve with me. I love her so much and I cannot imagine my life without her presence and faithfulness and encouragement in every season.
The only time that I have felt like the roles were even slightly reversed, and I was able to give her support, was in 1999 when she came to live with me in Mortlake after she had had a tough time abroad. Unsurprisingly, with Nicky near me once again, those two years were (along with subsequent years in Durham) the most stable and free years of my life. She bounced back so quickly from a difficult year and inspired me as together we love saw our faith in Jesus and sense of calling ( her to the nurture and education of young children and me towards ordination ) grow. This beautiful gift she has as a primary school teacher and now a mum has been there from her earliest years when she helped mum look after me as a baby and a toddler and then helping with children’s church as a teenager.
What I have realised as I look back over my life is that Nicky has kept that protective nurturing aspect of love for me into adulthood because I will always be her younger brother to look out for and after. And she will always be my adored older sister who I look up to, and am thankful for beyond words,and love so deeply that again words are not enough to express what I feel about her.
Nicky gave me this key ring for Christmas and it really touched me
I love these photos of Nicky and I
I love Jurgen’s attitude to football and his perspective on it and life and what matters
my friend Chris showed me this video after Liverpool won the champions league
I can imagine many managers being too self absorbed before kick off (I fear I would be), to do something like this
I love his simple phrase to a dying man, “see you”, which sums up the Christian hope
chris sent me this article too
I love Charlie Mackesy’s book that came out recently
There’s a lovely saying “the kindness of strangers“. I don’t know who originated the phrase but I met a man today who personifies it. Gary Fremantle kindly come to help me set up a refurbished iMac that arrived yesterday. He patiently waited outside for half an hour for my carer to arrive to let him in. He then set about transforming my iMac and iPad into a conversant whole in ways that I could not have imagined possible, all the while bearing with my complete ignorance. That may be part of the job but what touched me greatly was Gary’s compassion and kindness in thinking through my needs and not being phased by the fact I was stuck in bed and cannot speak. Then after helping me loads and loads for two hours, Gary told me that he didn’t want payment!! The kindness of strangers indeed.
What is more Gary has been part of establishing Wimbledon AFC and told me of the exciting plans and construction of a new Plough Lane stadium.
I feel so blessed to have met Gary, one of life’s beautiful people.
Billy Graham told the good news of Jesus Christ to more people in person than anyone in history. I cry whenever I listen to this beautiful song played at his beloved Ruth’s funeral. The lyrics are what I want to sing in my heart every day of this short life.
I love the words of true and living hope spoken by Billy as he says goodbye, for now, to her.
The words “you can have all this world but give me Jesus“ are not docetic world-renouncing words at all, but rather ones of love for Jesus – nothing compares to his love. I wish I could say that I have lived my life every day as if this were true. But it has always been my deepest reality. Like so many people I have come back to this abiding truth again and again.
Billy has now gone to be with her in the arms of God now.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
I arrived in London in 1997 and had the blessing of finding a church called Holy Trinity Brompton and going on a course called Alpha. HTB was led by Sandy and Annette Millar and the Alpha course was being run by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (who took on the leadership of HTB when Sandy and Annette moved to St Mark’s Tollington Park).
What God has done in the church here (and all around the world) through these two couples and the core team around them is hard to overstate. They have brought the hope of Jesus Christ to millions of men and women, boys and girls, from every walk of life, every race , every educational background. In prisons, hospitals, schools and campuses, villages and cities, housing estates and country estates, people have been touched by the love of God through them. I am one of those people and I am forever grateful.
And if you would like to hear about the Alpha course, which is now on YouTube, take a look at this video below.
Best referee in the world and funny too…!
Here are some of his best on-field quotes:
“Don’t swear, now, you’re on telly, mun.”
- To New Zealand’s Dan Carter in the 2015 World Cup Final
“I don’t think we’ve met before, but I’m the referee… this is not soccer.”
- Probably his most famous refrain, when dealing with complaining players, uttered first to a protesting Treviso scrum-half Tobias Botes playing against Munster
“If you want to cuddle, do it off the field, not on it.”
- To fighting players in a Harlequins vs Wasps match.
“You’re both acting very immature.”
- To a brawling Mike Brown and Yoann Huget after a disagreement in a match between England and France.
“I can’t give you the three points but I’ll give you a go at them.”
- In response to a captain indicating he wishes to attempt a kicked penalty by saying his side will “take the three”.
“The hands out law changed three years ago, where have you been?”
- To a very-offside Cian Healy at the ruck.
- To Chris Robshaw who was complaining about a French player lying around the base of a ruck.
“The football stadium is 500 yards that way.”
- During a Leicester v Ulster match at Welford Road, which is a stone’s throw from the King Power.