Thursday, 1 September 2011


I haven’t blogged for a bit because of working at Respite and the wedding. If you didn’t know, my sister Heather got married on Saturday – it’s pretty weird to think she’s a wife now and that we’re all growing up! The wedding was a really emotional, wonderful day; hopefully the photographs will show this. Something which was highlighted to me throughout the day though was how blessed I am with the family I have – my mum and dad and my brother and sisters. I know that 90% of the time I take them for granted and focus on the bits of them which could ‘maybe be improved’. I loved the wedding though because, amongst the chaos, it gave you time to reflect and be thankful. As well as my immediate family I’ve realised that our family have been really blessed with “+1’s”. Just like to apologise at this point Will, Jenna and Benji if you do stumble across this; I didn’t know the political term (maybe in-laws but as only Ben is now married I didn't know for sure...) so I settled for +1’s!
I have 3 amazing siblings: Claire, Duncan and Heather but on top of that, each of them has found an amazing partner: William, Jenna and Benjamin. It was only when we were all together on Saturday that I started to appreciate how blessed I am to know them and how good it is to have them as part of our family. They are all very different (which figures as Claire, Duncan and Heather are pretty ‘unique’) but they are all very good! While I was thinking about this blog I realised that I didn’t have a word against any of them. They have good reputations. They are really good people. A while ago Heather did a blog where she introduced her brother’s and sister’s to the blogosphere but I’d like to proudly introduce my brother and sisters’ +1’s and share some of my thoughts.

Claire and Will

The first thing I knew of Will was that he was ‘Fit Boy’. It seemed Claire and Will had been at school together years ago where Claire had given him this nickname without his knowledge and suddenly she’d met ‘Fit Boy’ again! If you didn’t know this Will, you do now and I’m sure you’ll take it as a compliment. Immediately though, this new relationship was having an incredibly positive impact on Claire. Claire’s probably had the roughest time of all us children and her resilience has always inspired me but it was so clear when Will entered her life the difference he made. Claire seems joyful always now. She is positive and optimistic. She laughs more. She plays the piano again. Will has grown her relationship with God. She seeks God more and it is clear through the way she lives her life. The two of them bring each other closer to Jesus. For me this is always a good sign of a healthy relationship. Will puts up with Claire’s quirkiness, but does more in that he emphasises it and celebrates it! Claire is so much more confident in who she is because Will has allowed and guided her to be it – another clear sign of a good relationship. They can buy hamsters together because that is who they are.

Will is very conscientious and kind. He is like Claire in that he seeks the least of these; the poor, the lost, the downtrodden and he actively helps them. He goes to lonely people’s homes. He is proactive in helping those who need to be helped. Together he and Claire shine Jesus’ example of how to be Good Samaritans. He is never too busy for other people but will always take the time.

What I love about Will as well though is his sense of humour, his likeability and how he doesn’t take life too seriously. He diffuses situations and has a calming influence. He is a great example for me.

Duncan and Jenna

I remember being in Italy about 6 years ago now constantly teasing Duncan about his new girlfriend saying ‘oooooo Jenna!’ I was 13 at the time so I think I was allowed...although Claire was 20 and she joined in too. Because they live further away than Will and Ben, I don’t get to see as much of Jenna as I do the other two but again the impact she’s had on Duncan is obvious. Jenna brings Duncan to life. I’ve never seen him happier than when he’s with her. She brings out the best in him. He is so much more confident when she is around and his love for her is clear. Duncan is really proud of Jenna, as he should be and it’s great to see him love to protect her and provide for her. I think of the verse in Songs of Solomon 2:3 - ‘Like the finest apple tree in the orchard is Duncan among other young men. Jenna sits in his delightful shade....’ (slightly adapted from the NLT)

Jenna is very beautiful. More than that, she’s stunning. I don’t know how Duncan got her! Only kidding, although I’m sure I’ve joked this to him before. They are a very attractive couple. More than that though is Jenna’s character. She is strong and persevering. The last few years haven’t been the easiest for Jen and yet now she is about to start a course in special effects and make up, having already got a degree in Psychology. Jenna is intelligent and adventurous. She fights for what she wants. She has a gentle and sweet spirit but also has a very good sense of humour. I remember one time when I managed to pour all the gravy from my plate onto the carpet obliviously while Jenna and Benji just looked and laughed at me. Jenna also does well to put up with the weirdness of our family, although fortunately for her Duncan’s probably the most normal of all of us.  Most recently I spoke to her about her time at Warwick which got me buzzing for university - bring it on. I’m really looking forward to getting to see Duncan and Jen more this year up in Warwick!

Ben and Heather....

...and then there’s Ben.....

In all seriousness Ben was an answer to prayer for Heather. Not many people know but before Heather and Ben got together Heather made a list and prayed for all the things she wanted in a boyfriend. However, the twist was that she liked another guy called Benji who lived up North, so sneaky Heather added to the list ‘...oh yeah, and he’s got to be called Ben!’ I think God had the last laugh there.

If there is one word which sums up Ben it is his ‘Integrity’.

He is funny, he is gifted, he is caring, he is strong and he is many things but it is his integrity which I most admire. This world doesn’t care much for integrity, unless that integrity is lost. We care a lot more for gifting and ability than character and yet Ben is such an advocate for character over gifting! He has changed Heather so much over their time together. I don’t remember much from  before but I do remember that most of mine and Heather’s conversations involved arguments, snide comments and making the other cry. Heather is now one of my confidantes and I trust her opinion and wisdom avidly. She has grown into such a woman of God and it would stupid to think that Ben hasn’t had a big part in that. I love being around Ben on his own and with Heather. I know God is going to use them to change this world and I'm excited to see that and be a part of it.

So there you have it! 3 people who are very different, very brave (to take on my siblings) and who are such great examples to me. Even writing this I realise how much I’ve learnt about doing relationships well from their influence. I’m not worried about mucking it up when I do meet my future wife because I have 3 strong couples I can look up to for guidance. Thank you Jesus that they are a part of my life.

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