Archive | April, 2015

2014 – The Year I Chose to Live

9 Apr

Every now and then I have a guest blog – my brother recently had this article printed in our School Old Scholar Magazine – but I want to share it with a few more people that will never see it there… so without further ado, I’ll hand over to him…

It was a completely normal October day in 2013. Almost every one of you would not be able to pinpoint a single thing that happened in your life on that day. It was simply a day like every other. But not for me.

It had been about two years since I’d first noticed a small tremor in my hands. Completely insignificant in so many ways. Over time though things had developed and something in me knew something wasn’t right. I felt weak. My hands and arms would cramp randomly and my muscles would twitch incessantly. It was infuriating and had driven me to numerous tests – EEG’s, MRI’s, CAT scans and numerous blood tests.

On walking into the Doctor’s rooms on that October day, a part of me knew the news would not be good. As I sat there with my wife, Mandy and my 4 month old son, Josiah, we waited to hear the words the Doctor clearly didn’t want to say – Motor Neurone Disease, he suspected, was the cause of my myriad of symptoms. If this was the case, then it was likely I had only two to five years left to live. His advice was simple – quit work and stay home to spend time with your family because that’s all that is important now.

Over the next couple of weeks I took a short break from work as I wrestled with this news and, again, saw more Doctors to confirm this first suspicion.

Something had changed forever for both myself and my family. Friends, family and complete strangers from across the globe contacted us to let us know that they were praying for me – the emotional, spiritual and practical support from so many, but especially from my church – The Journey Uniting Church, was overwhelming. As a family we committed to meeting weekly to pray and seek God for healing and breakthrough, convinced that the Doctor’s word would not be the final one.

Peter and Josiah  Photo Credit: Carly, Stirling Photography

Peter and Josiah
Photo Credit: Carly, Stirling Photography

And with that it came down to one simple choice. Would I choose to believe the word of man, or the Word of God? Would the promises of God’s Word take precedence in my life or would I live according to the prognosis of man?

So 2014 became a year of choices. And my key choices were

  • I will believe the Word of God
  • I will continue to work
  • I will continue to live my life

But most of all, I made a choice that regardless of what happened, I would do everything possible to live in a way that if you told someone I had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, they simply wouldn’t believe you.

And so I went back to work and told them about by diagnosis BUT more importantly I told them about my hope in Christ. I told them that if they were intrigued, I was happy and open to talking about the disease but that it would not be my focus and neither should it be theirs – because we had work to do.

And just like that I was back.

2014 was a remarkable year at work. My team at work performed incredibly and I am proud of every one of those people. They far and away exceeded every target that had been set for them and led our business strongly back to profitability after a couple of lean years.

In August, a colleague invited me out for coffee and told me he wanted to nominate me for an Excellence Award through the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). I was quite surprised as, whilst we had done well as a team, I didn’t really see that I had done anything out of the ordinary that warranted such recognition. As he talked he told me that it was more than just the business performance but also the way that I had carried myself and dealt with my circumstance that had inspired him to nominate me. To say I felt incredibly humbled is an understatement.

I completed the application process and thought that would be the end of it. Much to my surprise though, I was contacted and advised that I had been short listed for the SA Manager of the Year Award and was called in for an interview with the judging panel. I felt that I interviewed okay but, especially having read up about the other nominees, still had no expectation of success.

At the Award Night in early October, I remember distinctly feeling almost embarrassed to be one of the nominees, as I heard more about the CV’s of the other people in my category. I had no doubt that each of the other five nominees were far more worthy of the Award than me. Hearing my name called as the winner was nothing short of surreal. Expecting it to end there with a nice shiny trophy, I was then told that I would now be flown to Brisbane to be part of AIM’s National Manager of the Year Awards. I had felt out of my depth at the SA Awards so this was certainly daunting but exciting of course.

So at the beginning of November, having just passed the anniversary of my diagnosis, Mandy and I left our now 16 month old with his grandparents and flew to Brisbane for the National Awards. Before leaving, Mandy and I discussed that no matter what happened we were confident God was using us in everything that was going on and that our hope was simply that in all this He would be glorified.

For the National Award I was interviewed by a judging panel consisting of the CEO of 7 Eleven/On the Run, the head of Basketball Queensland and the Director of Suncorp Stadium as well as a lead consultant for the planning and preparation of Brisbane’s G20 Summit. To say there was a level of intimidation would be an understatement, however, once again, I felt that I gave a good interview and had put my best foot forward.

The Award Night for the National Awards was quite a large affair – a Black Tie dinner attended by over 200 people at the Brisbane Town Hall. Once again I spent my time getting to know some of the other State winners (who were the other nominees in my category) and was greatly impressed by them, which did nothing to elevate my perceptions of my chance of winning the Award. I had decided to simply be happy to have been given a free trip up to Brisbane (and a great opportunity to visit my sister Jen).

AIM National Manager of the Year

AIM National Manager of the Year

As my category came up, I sat back in my seat and prepared to applaud one of my fellow nominees, having now become fully convinced that I was no chance of winning. The shock of being announced as the AIM National Manager of the Year was significant (and a cheeky cameraman who had clearly been briefed, managed to capture a photo that summed up my thoughts). I was simply stunned. Even now I don’t remember much about their reasoning for awarding me the title as I headed to the platform in a daze to accept the award and deliver a speech. In giving my speech I thanked my wife, my company and my team at work, all of whom have played a significant hand in an incredible 2014. Most of all though, I had been given a platform to tell of my walk with God, of a year in which I had lived within what Ephesians describes as “the peace that surpasses understanding” and of my faith in the God who is healer, saviour and redeemer.

In the end so much happened in 2014. My sister Jen wrote about our adventures and fundraising in the Goa 7 Pillars ride. Amongst other things I turned 30, watched my boy turn one, rode my bike over 7,500km and was named as both the SA and Australian Manager of the Year by AIM.

And it started with a choice…