Monday, 23 April 2012

I Once Was A Stranger

Time for another favourite hymn –

I once was a stranger
To grace and to God;
I knew not my danger,
And felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture
Of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu
Was nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters
Of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters
Went over His soul!
Yet thought not that my sins
Had nailed to the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu -
‘Twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me,
By light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me,
I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety
In self could I see;
Jehovah Tsidkenu
My Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished
Before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished,
With boldness I came
To drink at the fountain,
Life–giving and free:
Jehovah Tsidkenu
Was all things to me.

E’en treading the valley,
The shadow of death,
This watchword shall rally
My faltering breath;
For, when from life’s fever
My God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu
My death-song shall be.

Robert Murray M’Cheyene, 1813 – 1843

“And this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness (Jehovah Tsidkenu)” Jeremiah 33 v 16.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

ME cited by coroner as ‘likely cause’ of teenager’s death, Uttoxeter Advertiser, 4 April 2012

A teenager who battled with a complex health condition for almost her whole life has died suddenly aged 18, an inquest has heard.

Victoria Webster, of Martins Lane, Hanbury, suffered with a condition called Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) since she was a year old, although she was only officially diagnosed with the condition in 2008, aged 14.

An inquest, held at Burton Town Hall last week, heard how over the years Victoria and her family faced significant problems with the authorities and agencies because of the difficulties of diagnosing ME and a misunderstanding of the condition.

Victoria had a very severe form of ME which made her hypersensitive to light and noise, to the point where she was bedbound and had to have her bedroom completely blacked out and the windows sound-proofed. She also suffered with dietary intolerances and had trouble controlling her body temperature.

Her body would often feel extremely painful to the extent she couldn’t be touched or brush her hair.

In September, Victoria, who missed the vast majority of her school life because of the condition, had a cordial drink which led her to have a severe reaction and her whole body swelled up. It took sometime for her to recover from the reaction, however, she appeared to be making good progress.

Her mother, Kay Webster, who described Victoria as ‘bright and intelligent’, told the hearing: “The night before her death I stayed in her room to keep a check on her because she was having severe pain in her back and eyes, but in the early hours of the morning on September 22, she started developing breathing difficulties so I called for an ambulance.” On arrival, medics found Victoria suffering cardiac arrest and she was pronounced dead shortly after at 5.16am.

Victoria’s death was said to have come as a ‘massive shock’ to the whole family.

Mrs Webster added: “The day before she seemed as well as she could be. We had no idea this was going to happen. She’d had a setback with the cordial drink a while before, but she was recovering and we thought she was doing better than she had been for some time. Her death was a massive shock.” Police were called to investigate the circumstances of the death and it was concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances.

South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh offered his sincere sympathies to the Webster family when recording his verdict of a natural death with complications of ME.

He said: “Although we can’t be clear on what the exact complications of ME were at the time of her death, it is very apparent that this was the likely cause.

“She suffered with ME her whole life and the effect was subject to significant variation. This is a very tragic case and I offer my deepest condolences to the family.”

Saturday, 7 April 2012


From the Bible -

Isaiah 53 v 1 – 12:

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

1 Peter 1 v 18 – 21:

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”

Another poem from “Echoes of Eternity” by Michael R Abbott; used with permission.


Plenteous in mercy,
Abounding in grace:
All of my hope
In the Saviour I place.

Eyes fixed upon Him,
On Calvary’s tree;
Knowing by faith
That my Lord died for me.

Hearing Him calling,
By day and by night,
Peace keeps my soul
And no terrors can fright.

Trusting Him fully:
He never can fail,
Holding me fast
When temptations assail.

Talking to Jesus
He hears my prayer,
Answers in love,
And unburdens my care.

Walking with Jesus
In fellowship sweet;
One day I know
I shall sit at His feet.

Resting in Jesus,
What joy fills my heart;
He is my King
And from Him I’ll not part.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A Message from Joni Eareckson Tada

My birthday was in February and unknown to me my brother had sent an email to the Joni and Friends organisation (, asking if they could send me a birthday greeting and encouragement. I didn’t hear from them on the requested date, but I received the following email from Joni a few weeks later – which came as a nice surprise. I thought that you might like to read what Joni had to say and I hope that you too will be encouraged by her comments -

Dear Hazel,

Your brother Tim recently contacted us at Joni and Friends to let us know of your upcoming birthday and also some of the struggles you’ve recently been facing.

God has a way of always pressing us up against our limitations in order to refine us further. For me it may be through a chronic pain, a flat tire on my wheelchair, or the stab of someone’s pity. For you in your limitations, it is probably different. But God allows both of us to go through painful times so we might rely all the more on His grace. Paul talks about that in II Corinthians 1:9, “…But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God…”

Let me encourage you that God can and will use you even in your present circumstances. Perhaps your greatest opportunity will be to pray — for others around you, your family and friends, current events and spiritual change. With the help of your church you might organize a prayer chain. Let your pastor know you want to be kept informed of prayer needs within the congregation and then commit your time and energy to prayer. And then be prepared for great things to happen!

Hazel, we pray that as you celebrate your xxth birthday, you will be encouraged today from II Cor. 4: 16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Yours in His care,

Joni Eareckson Tada.