Review of 2015

I’ve never written a review of the year before as a blog post, even though I enjoy reading other people’s. It’s really fascinating, looking over a calendar to see what I’ve been up to. So, here is my look back at 2015:

In January/February Mandy and I became Home Group leaders at Grace Church. This is the first set of responsibilities we’ve been given, and although we were really nervous to start with, the people in our group were great and a real joy to lead.

In March Grace Church held a roadshow for the Social Justice ministries that are supported. At this event, I had an idea for setting up a web design firm and employing people with no software development skills and teaching them to code.

On Saturday 11th April, Mandy and I attended the 300 Leaders conference organised by Jubilee Church Enfield. We really enjoyed the conference, where the topic was The Kingdom Agenda by Dr Tony Evans. I also started sharing my idea (from March) with a couple of people, who seemed to confirm it.

During the Spring, Mandy and I became the Ministry Leaders for the Ask Me team at church on Sunday mornings. (Ask Me is the team that welcomes people to church, serves refreshments and provide help to people during the morning). This involves organising rotas but also being the go-to people when team members have issues. The level of commitment was quite intense at first (two Sundays on, two Sundays off), which with the other commitments we have was hard at first, but we’ve been able to decrease it a bit (to the relief of everyone on the team!).

At the end of June, we went on holiday to Amsterdam and Berlin for my 40th birthday. A highlight was visiting Corrie Ten Boom’s house, and a number of memorials around Berlin connected to the Second World War and Cold War.

Also in June, a team was formed at Grace Church to look at how to reach people in the estates on the outer edges of Nottingham. We joined the team for North Nottingham, which meant our Home Group (which was going really well) would have to close. Although we were sad at ending our group, we were also excited about what God will do for our friends in Top Valley.

In August we stepped out in faith to try and get to know our neighbours by holding a street BBQ (we’re both quite shy around people we don’t know). This provided a launch pad for Mandy to start a ladies coffee morning in our home.

Also in August I decided to leave ChurchApp and started working at iSite. This was also a side-step move in terms of technology, as I would be using a different programming language at iSite.

The Autumn was really busy as we joined a Home Group concentrating on reaching the Top Valley estate in Nottingham. We studied how to reach people with a different background to my own and started organising events to invite people to.

During this time, I’ve been working on a side-project at home which I am hoping to use as a starting point for a web design business. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times in recent blog posts, and aim to share more in the new year.

Christmas has provided a welcome break for us, as we’re able to take a full week off work. I’m grateful for all what God has done during 2015 and am looking forward to 2016.

Happy New Year, and all the best for 2016.

Social Responsibility

One of the things I’m really impressed with the company I work for, iSite, is the work they do for charity. It’s a real privilege to work for a company that takes it social responsibility seriously – even better than some Christian organisations.

In the last 3 or so months, here’s what I’ve found out:

  • The company allows employees to take 1 day holiday to help the charity the company supports (in this case it’s Framework, a housing charity here in Nottingham).
  • A Macmillan coffee morning was held, raising money for Cancer research.
  • Around Remembrance Day, poppies were available with money going to Royal British Legion.
  • Money was raised for BBC Children in Need.
  • The staff tuck shop raises money for Framework.
  • Staff were able to bring food in for Christmas to help with a food bank.

If every company showed this level of commitment, I wonder what the impact would be…

Three Months In

Back in August I mentioned that I moved on from ChurchApp and started working at iSite. Well, today I learned that I passed my 3 month probationary period, and therefore am staying at iSite for the foreseeable future.

This is quite a relief to me, as there have been a couple of projects which had taken longer than anticipated, though this is to be expected as I’m learning how iSite do things and getting to grips with their current code base.

As I’m no longer on probation, I get a few more employee benefits which I will look at to see whether they are worth it. I’m also enjoying the fact it’s not a blame culture here (the last 8 years or so have seen me work in a few…)

Even after 3 months, I still leave work with a smile on my face…

Goodbye August

This August has been a difficult month for Mandy and I. A number of things have all happened at the same time which have tested us and taught us some lessons.

Job – At the beginning of the month I had to make a difficult choice regarding my career, and therefore decided to leave ChurchApp, the company I have worked at for the last 14 months. Whilst looking for a new job, I decided to get back into programming using Microsoft technologies (C# and .Net framework), which has meant brushing up on skills I used to have and were a bit rusty at. On 1st September I will start working for iSite, a company which builds tools for commercial property and facilities management. I’m really looking forward to getting back into .Net programming again, and using the best software tools in the industry.

Church – There have been a few changes at Grace Church in the last few months, both in terms of what Mandy and I are doing within the church and the effects of what God is doing in other people. These changes can be unsettling and we’ve certainly stepped out of our comfort zone, whilst trusting that God knows what He’s doing. We still love the church, and our Grace Church family have been very supportive during this last month. Although there is a lot happening at the moment with a lot more still to come, we’re still following Jesus through doors whilst He looks back and says “I thought you said you were going to keep up…”.

Hub – For the last couple of months I’ve been planning and building a content management system which I hope to release for others to use. It’s working title is Hub, and this site has been built using it. I developed the Hub using ASP.NET WebForms on .Net Framework v4.5. I’m not planning on making it open source yet as it will be a paid subscription, though as with a lot of plans this could change. I’ll post more about the development of Hub in the coming months.

Last Week – This previous week was challenging for us. We had booked into a conference in Bath, when our car broke down on the way there. The conference itself showed us what happens when people chase the experience, rather than God Himself. It also taught us to check out the venue properly before booking in case the lighting they use causes migraines!

So, that was our August. Usually the summer months are quiet so we can recharge ready for the Autumn. We’re excited about September – my new job, the Hub, and things at Grace Church pick up again. Through it all, God has been, and still is, completely faithful.

Learning .Net

One thing about programmers is that we never sit still – always wanting to learn new things and know what’s next. I’ve been using one particular language in my day job since 2009, and have now decided to change path. The language I’ve previously using is PHP, which is used on some popular web sites, and I’m now moving over to Microsoft’s .Net framework, ASP.NET with C#, which is also used on some popular web sites.

Why the change? Well, the programming software used to code in .Net, Visual Studio, is the best IDE around. It’s also a great tool to help you find where bugs are.

Comparing the languages, PHP and C#, is just a matter of personal preference. One is not better than the other. I’m just preferring C# at the moment. The problem with programmers is that they’re a judgemental bunch, which isn’t always helpful or nice. But that’s a subject for another post.

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