Yearly Archives: 2011

Fireproof – Review (Kind of)

Marie and I watched a film called Fireproof last night. One of Marie’s work colleagues lent it to us, it’s a Christian movie and at first I thought it was going to be a cheesy movie about some bible story or just plain bad acting. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to watching to start with.

The film is basically about a couple who after 7 years things are just drifting apart to the point they consider divorce, The main character Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is challenged by his father to take on the “Love Dare” for 40 days rather than just signing the divorce papers and while it starts hard he sticks at it. He hits rock bottom around day 20 when his wife Katherine Holt (Erin Bethea) tells him that she no longer loves him. At this point he speaks to his father who comes down to visit and shares the gospel with him and he gets saved.

Now that he is saved he has a new heart to continue on the Love Dare through to completion and beyond even though he hasn’t been shown any appreciation up to that point. The film culminates in the (somewhat expected) ending of his wife coming to him and saying “Something’s Changed in you & I want that too!”

While my brief synopsis doesn’t really do much for the story or the film itself I can say it was excellent and quite moving in places, I dont want to give too many of the story points away, but at times it was humorous, especially the tabasco sauce drinking scene! and at times it was very moving, when Katherine suddenly realised who paid the $24,000 to supply her Mum the right bed and wheelchair she needed after suffering a stroke.

I did particularly like the similarities in the middle when Caleb was asking his Dad, how can he (Caleb) love someone despite constantly being despised and rejected – Remind you of Jesus much?

For sure the acting is not hollywood level, but its not bad either, it’s pretty respectable and it did lack the cheesy cringe factor that I’ve witnessed when seeing some other christian videos, they even apparently filmed it on location in 30 days!.

Watching the film left me with an interesting thought and in many respects a warning to myself and probably any other married couple – marriages don’t just break up overnight, they break up slowly over a long time, so subtly perhaps that you probably don’t even notice something is wrong until its often too late. In fact the DVD extra features includes a music video and the film itself has as part of its sound track, the song by Casting Crowns – Slow Fade, heres the chorus:

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

This really got me thinking how easy that could happen to Marie and myself if I’m not careful, it’s not one big mistake that would cost me my marriage one day, its would be a systematic and constant assumption that “everything is fine” or making compromises for things that really shouldn’t be compromised in the first place.

For example in the film Katherine talks about the “trash” on the internet that he views, and there are further references to it, and it basically means looking at porn. while i would consider myself blessed that I don’t struggle with that temptation anymore it got me thinking is there anything that I do that might be considered to be valuing more than my wife? it’s a good reality check to make sure I am keeping anything like that in check, like the desire to always have the latest Apple gadgets like the iPad or Working too much.

The film is a good reminder that marriage is hard work and there are times when it’s not easy and it’s not just about feelings sometimes but just as much about making conscious decisions to love someone even when its hard, probably one of the cheesiest lines of the film was “Just because you fireproof your home, it doesn’t mean fire wont come to it” such a great reminder that yes as you work on your marriage, it doesn’t guarantee you safety from tests and trials but it should warn you not to get complacent

So I guess my review ends with a warning to any married couples out there to keep checking on your marriage and making sure there’s nothing that would cause you to make compromises on it or your partner. I’d actually recommend the film as well as a good watch too!

The film ends with this song, Love is Not a Fight by Warren Barfield, and I think it does a fairly good job of summing up what love (and by extension marriage too), i thought i would post the lyrics up:

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It’s worth fighting for

I’ll end with this question, Is your partner worth fighting for? and if so, Why aren’t you fighting for them, even when the times are good as well as bad?
That reminds me of the Mark Driscoll line: “if you don’t date your Spouse, Somebody else will”
My answer: I’ll fight until God calls me up to make his websites run fast!



God is Funny!

God has got a brilliant sense of humour! He tends to give me things I haven’t even prayed for, but things that I’ve thought about and want. There are a number of small examples I could give, but for the sake of time and my fingers, I’ll just give a few…

For example, the other day when I was on my way to work during rush hour, I knew the tube would be packed as it is every morning, and that I’d have to stand up, packed in like a sardine. I was in quite a grouchy mood, and I was thinking about how much I miss the chivalrous well-mannered men in Zimbabwe who offer up their seats to women, so that women don’t have to either stand or sit on the floor (depending on the situation). Anyway, I got on the tube, rammed in by people on all sides of me, and the man sitting in a seat nearby stands up and offers me his seat, and he sounded English! Now that never happens to me when I’m travelling on the tubes, and the fact that it occurred just at the moment when I was grouchy and complaining about it in my head, how ironic, that’s God’s humour 🙂 So of course I gladly accepted! (Thank You God for giving me a seat even though I didn’t ask You for one 🙂

Another example, when I was 22, I went on a Zambezi Holidays youth camp to serve as a leader. For those that don’t know, Zam Hols is the Zimbabwe equivalent of Newday (except on a much smaller scale), where youth from the Newfrontiers churches gather for 7 days during the school holidays for worship, teaching, bible studies, games, water sports, abseiling and much more. Anyway, I was really excited about serving on Zam Hols camp, and I was thinking ‘Phew! Praise God I wasn’t one of the leaders who got asked to do a talk or bible study! Yessssss!’ However, a few days before the camp, I got asked to lead one of the bible studies, and the topic I got given was ‘sexual temptation’! Apparently they hadn’t yet found a leader to take that slot. At that point I had never done a talk or bible study before, let alone on a topic such as this, so I was like ‘God that’s not funny’ but I think He thought it was! Apparently it went well, and somehow God got me through it, phew! (this example is slightly different, as God gave me something I didn’t ask for, and that I definitely didn’t want!)

A final example, many years ago, I think when I was about 19 or 20, I remember thinking how nice it would be to get married to a businessman and do bookkeeping in Zimbabwe. I never prayed for that, it was just a thought. And the irony is that I’m married to Anthony who runs his own business, and I’ll be doing his bookkeeping in Zimbabwe in a few months time 🙂

Now I’m not saying that prayer isn’t important, because I firmly believe in the power of prayer, but what I’m saying is that God knows the desires of my heart and sometimes He gives me things that I want or think about even when I can’t be bothered to pray for it, because He’s so kind and good and gracious and wonderful and loving! 🙂




Updates and upcoming changes!

Its been a while since I posted. it was also a shame I had to start posting again with a rant about a delivery company but there lack of incompetency to deliver simple packages time after time just made my blood boil! Hopefully this makes up for it 🙂

So it has been a while so fair bit of news to share I think 🙂 Finally on my final year of my degree, just 5 modules and a final year project and I will be done with studying for the foreseeable future, given that fact its obviously clear I passed all my exams in june and august. its been a busy summer for me and for STS. I finally got round to going limited as a registered company which has some tax advantages and other benefits Not forgetting a debit card with the company name on it! there’s been lots of work coming in which has been really a blessing to Marie and I.

I’m keeping this fairly short as I’d like to try and do more updates than my once every couple of months routine, so I’ll move on to upcoming changes. there’s only really 2 changes, firstly Marie has been considering blogging about stuff that she is passionate about or just plain wants to talk about, and we thought why not put it all here, because that way this will get more content over time and doesn’t have any extra expense! So soon you will be seeing posts from Marie Somerset, do read and enjoy them because I’m certain there will be some good pearls of wisdom in there.

second change which probably quite a few people now about by now is that Marie and I will be planning to emigrate to Zimbabwe by September 2012. Yes folks that’s less than 11 months away! we had been taking the first 6 months of this year to pray about the long term future and where God is calling us be it Zimbabwe or the UK or anywhere else in the world. God made it pretty clear that Zimbabwe is the place we should be to raise a family and build my business (no Marie isn’t pregnant yet!). There is going to be a lot of challenges ahead for us and some tricky decisions to be made, like do we ship everything or do we sell/get rid of stuff and re-buy new stuff in Zimbabwe? down to what church we should be involved in, we’d quite like to get involved in one of the Harare church plants but that is still to be decided, ultimately we want to do what God wants us to do so we are still open to prayers on that. we really would appreciate your prayers and thoughts over this next period of time while we plan, co-ordinate and ultimately move from the UK to Zimbabwe. Initially the biggest hurdle in our way is that I need to get residency status this December when we travel for Christmas. because Marie was born in Zimbabwe and is a resident herself it should be a straightforward process, however we are not dealing with a straightforward government so we do need specific prayers that the right people see the documentation required and have the grace and wisdom to grant the application

I will leave our news there for now, perhaps next time you might see a post from Marie.




Home Delivery Network/Yodel are pants AVOID!

Here is an email I sent as complaint because the last 2 out of 2 deliveries have seriously been a lot of fail, I’ll update if they respond or resolve the situation

DISCLAIMERS:

  • I mention 2 companies below, Amazon and Made.com it’s by no means their fault that I have had this experience (although the decision to use HDNL in the first place could be debated) it is solely HDNL/Yodel causing the problems. Amazon and Made.com are good quality companies and i would recommend either of them 🙂
  • It’s quite possible this is a localised HDNL issue (New Cross Depot, London) however not a lot of my reading over the internet fills me with confidence that it is only localised but rather likely a systemic company/country-wide plague
  • THIS IS A LONG EMAIL – You have been warned 🙂
  • REDACTED a couple of items that would be otherwise exposing personal information unneccesarily

UPDATES:

  • made.com been in touch with me due to my comments on twitter, they are chasing from there end and are doing much more than is required to help me out – that is what you call customer service 🙂
  • 27/10/2011 – 8AM: one of made.com’s items finally arrived at 21:40 last night, totally missed the delivery window and…. after 9PM!!!!, still as of yet not even acknowledgement of my complaint
  • I got an actual email response from Yodel dated – 2nd November 18:32, the from name was Amazon which is slightly misleading (i might report this to Amazon), its just a generic letter of response and “assurance” that they will investigate it

To Whom It May Concern,

This is the second time in almost as many weeks that I have had a package going via Home Delivery Network (HDNL), to arrive shockingly late or not at all. So far in the case of the second time, I’d like to record a catalogue of failures from my 2 current experiences and ask you what you are going to do about it. I’d like to point out that out of around 8 dealings with HDNL, I have only ever had one package arrive within the set time on the set day, but even then the delivery driver had a lack of care for the package, but I am not referring to that incident.

1st Delivery/Order – Amazon.com

I ordered several goods via amazon prime, which entitled me to free next day delivery. One item, being sent direct from Amazon, was sent via HDNL. It was ordered on a Sunday and dispatched on the Monday. I expected to receive the package on the Tuesday and took time off work to be able to receive it. The package did not arrive on the Tuesday and at 7pm I called the call centre. I was advised that you were very busy and that delivery drivers were delivering until 9pm, despite your advertised delivery time of 7am to 7pm. I called later at just after 9pm to be told the same information, as the only information the call centre had was that it was still out on the van.

Needless to say it was not delivered on that Tuesday and I had wasted a whole day waiting in for a package I expected to arrive. I called on the Wednesday morning at about 9am once the delivery status had been updated to scanned into depot again, and they just told me the vans load until 11:30am, so they couldn’t say what was happening. They also said they would need a day to recover the package so that I could go and collect it, as I required the item I had ordered on that Wednesday (which is why I ordered next day delivery) so I said no. I also was advised that the driver “did not attempt delivery” which meant they would today, as drivers are “not allowed to ‘not attempt’ delivery more than once”. The advisor also as good as guaranteed that I would receive the package on that day.

I called up at 7pm when the parcel had still not arrived, and was advised that they were very busy and were delivering until 9pm – again your automated service still said 7am – 7pm. I also expressed my concern that I was told the exact same the previous day, and the member of staff was fairly blunt in saying there was nothing she could do about it because the depot was closed. When I asked to speak to the manager, she put me on hold and then took my contact details and advised me a manager would call back – this never happened.

I called again at 9pm as the parcel had still not arrived, and the advisor had no information and could not contact the depot or driver.

The package arrived at 22:15pm. 5 mins later and I would have actually have been in bed! Also the package was supposed to be signed for, however the driver literally just handed me the package after I opened the door and commented “its a bit late isn’t it?” and walked off, no signature taken or anything.

2nd Delivery/Order – Made.com

I ordered these packages some weeks ago and was prepared for the wait originally. I received an email from them on Friday 21st October advising that they were dispatching the goods to the courier. I received an email on the Monday 24th to say they were due to be delivered on Tuesday 25th. I clicked on one of the emails to reschedule the delivery to the Wednesday, which was more convenient for me – I wrongly assumed this was for both packages, however it looks like it was only for one of the 2 packages. Your system is obviously lacking the ability to realise that if 1 package to the same destination as the other is rescheduled, it should ask to reschedule the other.

I got an email Tuesday morning saying you were going to deliver between 4pm and 7pm, so I rush home in order to be able to receive it, however it did not turn up within that window. I called at just after 7pm, but before I did I checked the tracking status of one of my orders (at this stage I only assumed there was one order in your system and not two)

Lo and behold it says the package had been delivered. I have checked with my neighbours and they have not received a package for me, and I was also at the property at the delivery time and was no more than 3 metres away from the front door for most of the delivery window time, so would have heard someone attempting to deliver and heard a van drive up or away. I called to complain that I have not received the parcel, and they told me all they could do was email the depot because it was closed at 6pm. I asked to speak to a manager and was told I couldn’t. I asked why not and was told they were “busy dealing with escalations”, so I asked for the call to be “escalated”. The advisor took my contact details and told me a manager would be in touch – as of yet no manager has been in touch.

I called yet again this morning and was advised of the 2 parcels and I was advised such: for the parcel that was “delivered” but not i was told they have to contact the depot and interview the driver, and it can take up to 48 hours and that I should contact the seller: made.com
The second package they advised me was damaged and awaiting further advice, and the advisor didn’t really know what to advise me to do. As of yet I have not received either of these 2 packages and I actually need them for people to sit on tonight!

So from my details above, here is how HDNL/Yodel totally failed me:

  • First order arrived a day (and a half) late
  • First order management never called me back
  • First order the package arrived at 10pm despite being given two sets of information separately
  • First order didn’t get me to sign for it
  • Second order, two separate items, wasn’t made clear in emails
  • One item is supposedly damaged
  • One item was marked as delivered, but it looks like driver never bothered to deliver it
  • Advisors have no info or means to contact depot
  • Has still not arrived

I also have lost earnings as a result of waiting for packages, I am a freelance IT consultant and any time I need to stay off work and wait for a package is actual lost earnings, because I do not have things like annual leave, so to earn money I have to work. If I exclude the days when I arranged to be present to receive the goods, I have so far lost:

Order 1: 1 day
Order 2: half a day and counting

If I was to be working 9 – 5 during that lost time, based on the above figures, I have lost overin potential earnings due to the failures of HDNL and Yodel.

I also have the following questions of HDNL:

  • why do you deliver until 7pm but your depots “close” at 6pm, how is this even possible?
  • why do you have to deliver until 9pm and then not actually update your automated systems to advise of this?
  • why do managers not call back customers despite being told this would happen?
  • how are you going to repair your reputation with myself?
  • how is it acceptable to deliver packages after 10pm when your stated delivery time is 7am to 7pm?
  • how is it even possible for your drivers to take too many packages to deliver that they are not able to complete there delivery round within the delivery day?
  • is it acceptable to provide so little information to the customer?

Until I actually get a satisfactory response, I will be advising friends, family and other acquaintances to immediately cancel orders from suppliers that send via HDNL/Yodel, and/or to get their suppliers to choose alternatives to yourselves. I will also be forwarding trimmed down versions of this email to made.com and amazon.com and suggest they find alternative providers.

For your reference, my delivery address is:

Regards




You wont relent – Jesus Culture

Marie had a Jesus Culture song in her head yesterday so we got the album of iTunes and been listening to it today and heard this great tune, it’s a song about how God wont stop chasing us until we give our hearts to him and how we should respond by asking Him to dwell in us more, I thought the words were quite poignant given Andy’s preach on Sunday where he mentioned the sheer statistics of people who wont have run the race well by the time they get to the end of their life and how people can do all the “right things” at church but lot be giving our hearts to Jesus

You won’t relent until You, have it all
My heart is Yours
You won’t relent until You, have it all
My heart is Yours

I’ll set You as a seal upon my heart
As a seal upon my arm
For there is love that is as strong as death
Jealousy demanding as the grave
And many waters cannot quench this love

Come be the fire inside of me
Come be the flame upon my heart
Come be the fire inside of me
Until You and I are One

I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You