Posted by: theacres | April 4, 2011

it’s oh, so quiet

Firstly, i apologise for the smell.  The boy has just produced the most stinky poo of his short life, and believe me, he’s done some bad ones.  goodness knows what caused it, but it weren’t nice!

Anyway, back on script.  Friday night’s street pastor shift was a fairly uneventful one – sorry sp drama fans.  We formed up as a full team of six, four out at a time with two back at base, and a chap who had come along to observe as part of his youth worker training.

we patrolled round the town and despite there being quite a few people about, some of whom were in high spirits, we had few incidents to deal with. The police seemed relatively busy breaking up fights etc. but there was nothing much for us to do.  We spent our time chatting to people who were out and about and everyone was positive about what we were doing.  I pray that some of those meetings will lead to people thinking a bit more about their own faith.

sorry, not a massively thrilling blog this time round, but that’s a good thing overall!

Posted by: theacres | March 25, 2011

oh, there’s a chap over there

Right, I’ve got a bit of time, TLL’s out with some friends, the boy is asleep and I’ve finished a rubbish book, so I can do a street pastor’s update.

I’d had to do a shift swap because of a trip to Scotland for a wedding – kilts are remarkably liberating, don’t you know! – so it was a rare outing on a Saturday night for me.  It proved to be somewhat interesting!

We formed up at HQ and ‘troduced ourselves, once again I was amazed at the different people who are prepared to give up their night to go and show God’s love on the street.  We hit the streets and started a patrol.

Before long we came across a chap who claimed to have been released from prison that day.  He seemed fairly unstable, both physically and possibly mentally, but he was pleased with the light, space blanket and water we could offer him.  He made some fairly educated guesses and seemed to be able to give some fairly coherent answers at times about going to church/mass when he was inside.  Now that he was out he didn’t really want to be involved in organised religion any more, he claimed to be more interested in some sort of universal consciousness.

At that point a chap and a lady appeared, the lady had seen us and was really keen to talk to us about what we were doing.  We had a good chat and eventually had to turn down the offer of money from the fella, but we gave them a card and said donations would be welcome on the website.  We also spoke to some partiers who were getting cash from the machines.  It was a productive corner as the other half of the crew were talking to a lady who had just split from her husband  Right place, right time.

We continued through town and met a few people, had our photos taken with a hen do, and picked up bottles in the one of the parks.  As we headed back to base, we saw Stephen K Amos coming out from a gig, fortunately we didn’t get to speak to him as it’s probably inappropriate for someone in an SP uniform to tell comedians what they thought of their TV series!

Back to base to switch one of the pairs and out onto the streets again.  We went up to the top of town and through another of the parks/gardens.  At the top of town we got a call on the radios that there was a couple in a bad way at the taxi rank.  We hotfooted it down there, having a couple of brief chats on the way, but always on the move. At the taxi rank we met the couple in question, both were deaf and autistic, and more than a little tipsy!  After talking with the taxi marshalls and walking the lass (who was by far the worse for wear) u and down a few times it became clear that none of the drivers were going to take them.  What to do?  After a few hasty prayers and some typing on a mobile, we decided to walk them home to the edge of town.  Ten minutes, no problem!

The chap was fantastic, he coaxed an cajoled his girlfriend every step of the way, and with prayer support and actual support we managed to get her to where they needed to be, despite protestations and slumping. I was glad of Mr Tumble and the rudimentary Makaton that I’d learned from him as it helped a little with the communication (although I couldn’t think of a way to bring spotty bags into the conversation). On arriving at their flats we realised that there was no way we were going to get an increasingly floppy and uncooperative lady up four flights of stairs.  The guy went and got the warden who sorted it all out.  It had been over an hour of fairly hard work.  We went back to HQ and i put my coat and fleece on the radiator and lay on the floor for a bit. I’ve discovered that the SP’s big jackets are fantastically warm but aren’t very breathable!

N.B. A couple of days later we were passed a really nice email from the guy, thanking us for the help we’d given.  We’d have done it without the thanks, but it does make you smile!  Praise God that we were able to help.

The other pairs went on the next rotations while me and my partner had a nice cup of tea and a sit down.  An hour and a half later we were off out again for the last patrol of the night.  It was relatively uneventful for the large part, water and flip-flops were given out and space blankets seemed to be the must have accessory of the night.  we bumped into a girl who we’d seen earlier in the evening and helped people where we could.  While sweeping up broken glass from the edge of the road i became aware of a car, blocking the road to protect us.  It was an unmarked police car and the officers inside were clearly looking after us.  Good on ’em.

After more glass clearing and helping a chap sort out being reunited with his lost mobile we headed back to base.  It’s funny how God sometimes points you to where you need to be.  We walked down a street and were merrily chatting about this and that, when we spotted a guy slumped in a corner of a garage doorway.    “oh look, there’s a chap over there”

He was conscious but unresponsive, and had scratches on his arms and head, after some deliberation our team leader called an ambulance.  A paramedic car came in double quick time and started to attend to the young, slumped man.  A police car came soon and said they’d stay to make sure nothing untoward happened to the lone female paramedic.  At that point our work was done, so we headed back.  We were clearly led to that street and clearly led to the course of action we took, because as we walked off the guy was up on his feet and acting fairly irrationally.  We would have struggled to handle the situation but with a paramedic and two policemen on scene he was in safe hands.  aAlthough it wasn’t a freezing night, it would have been a bad idea for him to be in that doorway all night, and goodness knows whether there was a concussion or anything to go with the big bump on his head?

The journey back was then a simple matter of sweeping some glass out of the middle of the ring road and then job done.

It’s amazing to think how God looks after people.  He looked after us as we were doing His work, and He looks after people who were going about their business possibly oblivious to Him.

i got home and TLL was awake.  The boy had just fed and fell asleep after giving me a smile.  Not a bad way to finish the day!

Posted by: theacres | February 26, 2011

people delight in saying “farewell rob bell”

i was playing about on twitter a little bit earlier, and was really surprised to see #robbell trending. “the NOOMA guy?” i thought, “nah, must be another one, someone touring with justin beiber or something.

Turns out it was the NOOMA guy, but the trending wasn’t for good, or for awesome.  Turns out that rob bell has a new book coming out: and it’s managed to cause a bit of kerfuffle.

People have read the jacket words and taken exception to the “universalism” – which to you and me is the idea that a loving God wouldn’t let people go to hell.

Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins

Now, first up is the obvious fact that this is a description and it can’t give away the main conclusion of the book, so how can we start drawing conclusions about the man’s theology when no-one, and i mean no-one, tweeting has read it?  Heck, we’re looking at a dust cover.  if you could know everything there was to know about a book from the jacket then i’d have got much better marks in my english GCSEs!

People have drawn some conclusions based on this, and a video which purports to say the same sort of thing – i’m not posting the video because the only place i could find it was on a page full of criticsim of rob, and i don’t want to glorify that sort of behaviour.  This video, as TLL and i see it, says nothing of the sort, but that’s by the by.

What saddens me most is that there are a lot of people taking pot shots at rob bell’s theology, criticising him for being in error.  Hang on, isn’t there a bit of irony there? does that not smack a little of specks and planks in people’s eyes.  Frankly, i don’t know know if the theology s dodgy or not, i wouldn’t know that until i’d read the book.  What i do know is that we’re called to love one another, to build up and not to tear down.

It disappoints me that the only way a Christian can hit the trend is when he’s being pilloried by others.

i’m a long way from perfect, and i acknowledge that fact, i live an untidy life, that’s full of contradictions, confusions and mistakes.  That’s fine, God loves me, and He sent Jesus so that i didn’t have to be perfect.  i guess everyone’s the same in that, and maybe, just maybe, we could be a bit more gracious in our dealings with each other…

As it happens, i’m not a universalist.  i think there has to be a definite point where the Truth is revealed and we come face to face with our creator.  at that point the decisions we’ve made on this earth will be honoured by our Loving God.  To me it seems that a loving God wouldn’t force us to go back on what we’d chosen with the free will He gave us.  If He did, then it wouldn’t be free will.

Perhaps someone would like to take a pop at my theology, and if they do, i’d like to think they’d talk to me about it, so i can learn something, and not smear it all over the twitterverse.

Posted by: theacres | January 15, 2011

street pastors update

This has been a little while coming, mostly due to laziness on my behalf, but finally i’ll do an update on the last street pastor shift i did.

It was the first proper patrol with my new team, so it was good to get to know the people i’d be out on the streets with.  They seem like a good bunch, willing to serve and ready to do whatever’s needed.

The team leader and i took the first stint back at base, and it went by really quickly, getting to know one another and generally chatting.  The other four returned.  cup of tea and then out.

It was the quietest i’ve ever seen town, perhaps the combination of the drizzly weather and the proximity to Christmas and new year was keeping people away.  That meant for a fairly quiet night for us.  We didn’t attend to any falling down drunk people,rather walked about and chatted to people who were in pretty good moods.  a couple of groups were celebrating birthdays and were in good spirits.

All in all it was uneventful, there were a few fights which the police sorted out before we got on the scene, and we had an encounter with a couple who were being closely watched by the CCTV cameras and later were accused of stealing someone’s wallet.  By 0200 most places were signing off and closing down, so we were back at base before 0400 for debrief and prayer.

It was a stark contrast to the week before, but enjoyable in a different way, even when there are no incidents to deal with people seem pleased to see us and grateful that there’s someone out there looking out for them.

Posted by: theacres | January 2, 2011

street pastors’ new year’s eve adventure

For a shift you can’t get more involved than a new year’s eve, so my first full experience of Street Pastoring promised to be interesting if noting else!

We had enough for two teams, which was good when things really got busy, God was going ahead of us and we had enough people to just about cope with the number of incidents, but more on that later.  The night started fairly sedately with a stroll round town and a few chats to door staff, a sweep through a park where we were the only people and a sweep up and collect of bottles both broken and whole.  The streets were mostly quiet with people in a hurry to get to their venue of choice.

Our first incident occurred well before midnight.  We discovered a youngish chap slumped in the bushes in the corner of a graveyard, he was well hidden but the light of our torches reflected back from his white shirt.  if he’d been wearing something else we might not have spotted him, so concealed was his sleeping place.  He was well out of it and we struggled to rouse him from drink induced slumbers.  Eventually we had to fish his ringing phone out of his pocket because he was incapable of getting it himself.  we spoke to his concerned friend who was guided in to our position, we managed to get the chap on his feet and out onto the street to see his friend  it was obvious that it was home time for these guys even before he vomit hit the floor!  Eventually after cajoling and balancing and some apologising from a still very very drunk chap, his other friend appeared and they found a taxi driver willing to take them home.  one down, many to go.

We waited around for a pre-arranged meet with the chief constable of our area and used the time usefully by observing a domestic which was just harsh words but could easily have escalated.

We saw the new year in dealing with a very drunk woman (drunk women was the obvious  theme of the evening) who was with her friend but her friend wasn’t helping too much and seemed more concerned with phoning for a taxi than making sure her friend was ok.  She was a middle aged lady of considerable proportion and the difficult we had was keeping her in a safe position (and retaining some semblance of modesty for her). eventually after much wrestling, pulling, dragging and general struggle we got her onto a space blanket to shield the worst of the floor’s cold.  unfortunately she became immobile and we couldn’t move her into the recovery position.  an ambulance was called and the second team looked after her until it came.

My team headed back to base for a break but were called back to the same road we’d just been on before we could get there.  Outside a couple of clubs there were two women, both on their own, who had collapsed.  We stayed in eye contact and the two pairs of Street Pastors dealt with the drunken women.  the one we dealt with was in a bad way but not keen on being helped, within minutes three of her friends appeared and we helped her on with a space blanket and fed her the bottle of water we provided.  they had a handle on it and there wasn’t much more we could do to assist so headed over to our partners, before we got there we were diverted by the door staff who told us about another woman who was also in a bad way.  All of this was happening with the other team looking after the big girl further up the road and the paramedics in attendance.

She was on her knees and very worse for wear.  she claimed not to have had much to drink, but admitted she wasn’t used to it any more.  she felt very sick.  after much, much cajoling, encouragement and pressure she managed to get sat upright and take some water on board.  She made multiple attempts to be sick, some of which were successful.  she’d tried to contact her friend who was still inside the club but hadn’t got a good answer and was now out of credit.  We asked the staff to put out a shout to her friend in the club, but after a considerable wait there was no sign.  We decided to try and get the lady into a taxi and back home.

The other pair had managed to get their charge onto her feet as well, but she was in a considerably more advanced state than ours. We managed to get both of them to the taxi rank and people very generously let us jump the queue. God bless them.  A few taxi drivers refused to take her, but was did, praise the Lord and she was packed off home.  Not such a positive outcome for the other woman though, she became less and less responsive and the parameds had to be called for her too. I didn’t get the full story because the second team took over and let us head off for our break, but apparently she had to be ressusictated and taken to hospital with some urgency!

After a half hour in the warm, a cup of coffee and some cake we hit the streets again and attended to more people who were the worse for wear, made sure domestics didn’t boil over into violence and picked up a lot of bottles.  We had some good conversations with people, but mostly everyone was in a good mood and heading home.  Door staff were saying that the night was drawing to an end and it had been almost entirely violence free.  By 0300 things were quiet and the night was winding to a close, so by 0345 we had got back to base for a prayer and wrap up.

It was really good to be out there and an eye opener to the state that some people get themselves into.  I’m also surprised to note that some people’s mates can be so uncaring and not willing to cut their night short just because their mate’s on the verge of hospitalisation!

God was definitely going ahead of us, and the other team said that they had another two incidents were the ambulance had to be called.  we pray that the people are all ok in the cold light of day!

got home at 0430 and TLL was awake having just fed the boy.  toast and sleep!

I’m out again on friday night, and will try to get a match report out asap afterwards!

Posted by: theacres | December 29, 2010


Excitement is in the air in theacres.  the boy has started on solid(ish) food.  baby rice has been the flavour of the week and he’s liked it a lot.  last night saw the introduction of pureed parsnip.  To say that he was pleased would be somewhat of an understatement.  The boy literally shook with delight and every mouthful was greeted with a big hearty “mmmmMMMMMMmmmm”. goodness knows what he’s going to make of carrot!

Posted by: theacres | December 20, 2010

let it snow

hooray!  the snow’s been banging it down all day and we’ve got maybe six inches.  i went out for a walk a little while ago and it was superb fun.

i do like a proper bit of weather.

Posted by: theacres | December 18, 2010

Is he more determined than us?

and there’s this one too that i forgot to post.  It’ s a bit less cheery, but God is good to use chapel folk.  we’re still praying that the boy sleeps more.

From the 6th December


Wow.  TLL and decided that we need to do something about the little one’s sleeping.  He’s waking up every three hours or less in the night and it’s getting really difficult for us all:  TLL has to be up with him to feed, keep upright (refulx) and settle; he’s awake and shouting, or chatting, or eating; even though i get off by far the lightest it’s still hard going when i have to go to work in the morning.

We decided to try and get him down a bit earlier, so tonight we get him ready for bed at 1900 with a view to have him down at half past.  It’s now gone 2000 and TLL is feeding him again because he’s screamed constantly for an hour.  we had to have a shift change half way through, but he’s stuck to the task.

Lord, please let him sleep. His eczema is troubling him and there’s only so much we can do to help that.  it seems so sore for such a little boy, and he copes really well most of the time.  We’re so glad that You gave him to us, but we need your strength to help us to raise him properly. amen

We have to keep reminding ourselves that in his short life he’s had quite a bit to contend with.  Eczema, reflux, a nasty cold, two lots of antibiotics, gaviscon, it maybe doesn’t seem much,  but it’s been hard work

Posted by: theacres | December 18, 2010

a moment of comparative sanity

Hmm. bad skills.  it appears that i wrote some blogs ages ago and forgot to publish them.  it’s a triple treat for you all!  (i say all, it’s probably just you, technicaljon)

from September 19th.  (the courgette cake was nice, by the way, it went down a treat)


Much is peaceful at theacres, the boy is asleep after a further day of shouting and generally not sleeping enough.  more on him shortly.  TLL is mooching abut somewhere in our house and i am ensconced in the  dining room, waiting for my cakes to bake,  more on the cake  also shortly.

The boy is a smashing chap, and i thank God for him a lot, probably not as much as i should, but still i do it when i think of it.  He’s developing quite a personality and within that there are some definite musical likes and dislikes.  In the womb he was fond of Amerie’s most well known work : one thing.  it also served to calm him down nicely on our journey home from the hospital, in all that was new he had something that he could recognise.  He’s developed a bit of a liking for Michael Buble, it’s rather disappointing.  In his defence he does only like selected songs, and he howls when the slower, more ballady numbers come on.  good lad.  By far the best development however was a discovery while changing him, he LOVES Roots Manuva, especially witness the fitness.  get in there sunshine.

I’m baking a couple of cakes for colleagues, and misread the recipe.  sandwich tins and loaf tins are not the same thing, i have just discovered.  Hey ho, it might work, they’ll just have to stay in longer.  Who knows whether chocolate and courgette cake will work?


as is often the way here, things went from 0 to 60 in not very long.  the boy woke up in a rather cute way.  he stirred and raised one arm, his fist clenched in his scratch mitt, like a tiny black panther.  it was chucklesome.  he, of course, started howling.  the cakes went ping and demanded attention and i discovered where TLL was, she was stressing around because we’ve got visitors tomorrow and the house isn’t tidy.  Fatherly/husbandly duty was done.  the boy is clean and feeding, the kitchen and bathroom are clean and tidy, and the cakes are out of the oven.  it’s pretty rock and roll here at theacres, i can tell you!

The cakes however may just have worked.  i’ve turned one out of the tin and it’s not collapsed into a million pieces of slumped into a pile of mush.  goodness knows what it’ll taste like?

The other semi-notable thing was that TLL came into the kitchen during a washing-up and planet rock moment.  i was merrily singing along to ride like the wind by (i thought) saxon.  “why are you singing a Cliff Richard song?” she asked. “he covered it off of saxon”  i confidently replied, wiht more conviction that i felt.  i’d look it up when i was finished…   …the nice planet rock lady saved me the effort, apparently it’s a Christopher Cross song.  phew, honours even, we were both wrong.  I’ve got such a long way to go, to get to the border of mexico…

well, we’re back to almost calm so i’ll go and enjoy it rather than rambling on here. i’ll let you know how the cake goes down.

until next time

Posted by: theacres | December 18, 2010

not a bad day…

The main purpose of this blog was to record some of the highs and lows of being a new parent; to keep a reminder of the things that we’ve been through, good and bad, so that we can look back at them in the future.  this will be one of those postings.

It’s been a really tough month or so (maybe more, maybe less, i can’t remember).  The boy has not been sleeping probably due to a combination of things.  Reflux, eczema, colds, hunger and/or just being contrary have contributed to a  lot of distrupted nights.  Sometimes TLL has had no more than an hour and half’s sleep in one go, and less than three hours in total.  it’s been hard.  very hard.  Our friends have been supportive and we know that they’ve been praying hard for us.  thanks guys.  but there’s only so much other people can do and the responsibility to deal with all this ultimately falls to us, and more specifically to TLL most of the time.

The last couple of nights have been better.  we don’t think we’ve done anything different, but the boy decided that he was shattered and the night before last slept well, including a six hour stint from about midnight.  praise God.  Last night one of our friends said she’d look after him for the evening while we went out.  brilliant.  i thin he gave her quite a hard time, shouting, scratching, generally being like he is with us most nights.  we got back and took him home.

He guzzled a massive amount of milk that TLL had expressed (9oz) and then went to sleep.  he woke a couple of times in the night, cried and went back to sleep eventually (ignore ignore ignore).  it doesn’t seem much but it’s great that the night isn’t interluded with a feed, and a burp and a half hour’s keeping him upright.  praise the lord again.

Thanks to Mrs. Bear for looking after our little boy for the evening.  sorry it was tough, we’re really grateful for being able to spend some time together for a change.

This morning we woke to find that there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, and more falling.  i’m an idiot for snow so was quite excited.  Turns out that the boys likes it too.  i got him up and dressed (and lubed up with his various emollients) and then sat him on the windowsill – before you ask, it was on the inside, with the window closed and i was holding on to him tightly.  no Michael Jackson antics here.  He sat and watched the snow falling in wonder.  he looked at me and TLL as if to say “what’s happened to our street?  why’s it a different colour? what’s this stuff falling?”  it was great to see him.  he liked it!  Maybe this time next year we’ll be able to go out and play in it a bit.

He’s also nearly sitting up on his own.  clever boy!

the snow eased off a bit, but is coming back down with a vengeance.  get in.  what a day.  and if we’re not snowed in, we’re going to have a curry with friends tonight.  acest!

Thanks again to everyone whose praying for us.  it’s very much appreciated.  you guys rock!


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