Sunday, 30 September 2012
You know. You think your family love you and then you see a photo like this and you wonder how anyone who loved you could let you go out looking like that! This is me in the garden enjoying the dregs of summer with a very relaxed Morecambe. I haven't really been out in the glasses. They were £2 from Primark and we call them my Harry Potters. This week has been funny. I really can't think of anything to tell you.....really nothing to share....except
Now I think about it, I haven't exactly been tied to the kitchen sink. We went to the theatre to see "The Ladykillers". I remember the film with Alec Guinness and it frightened the life out of me - all very sinister. This was played much more for laughs except when it all goes pear shaped. It was done really well (I have never seen anyone stabbed to death with a bit of banister before) and the set was superb. Best set I have seen since the helicopter came on in Miss Saigon (That is the only bit I remember about Miss Saigon - the rest seemed to drone on a bit) I did have the chance to see Blood Brothers with Marti Pellow but to be honest, I would rather poke my own eyes out with a spoon. Nothing against Mr Pellow who I am sure is jolly nice but I hate "Star Vehicles" in musicals. I like to watch something without all the mumbling about "Was she in Eastenders?" and giggling when the "Star" comes on.
We had a Vintage Fair in Plymouth. Proper vintage fair mind you and not one of these events where you wander round looking at stalls with dodgy looking mattresses and old bits of plastic piping. This was all lovely and 1940s/1950s based with everyone all dressed accordingly and a live band playing stuff like "In The Mood". I have never seen so many vintage tea-cups in my life.
Also, had a small moment when I was certain that dementia was setting in. Sat at Church Communications Team meeting and a chap refers to some work that has been done regarding advertising for volunteers and putting together some ideas and lists etc. and I am nodding my head and grinning at no-one in particular and thinking "Well done whoever that was" and then when I look - everyone is looking at me and smiling and waiting for me to explain what I did. It was me! I had done the lists! I honestly couldn't remember doing it for what seemed like an age but was probably a few seconds. Then it all clicked back. In my defence we haven't had a meeting all summer and I have had a lot on my plate but was slightly concerned that it took me more than a few seconds to work out what the jiminy they were all on about. Think I got away with it.
Caught up with Parade's End. I have loved this so much. So beautifully written. Each line and each performance seemed so rich. Sir Benedict of Cumberbatch did really well making a strange character so sympathetic as did Rebecca Hall. I think she did almost too well because I was very nearly rooting for her at the end. (Only nearly) I loved the end. I loved how low key and gentle and well just - happy it was. One of my TV highlights this year. Also Doctor Who, end of the series (and of certain people - never did really love her that much but really liked him) also very good. The Weeping Angels are a genius creation.
Have been packing and stuff all week for FOW1's return to university. We have loved having him back but it is time to go and he is ready as all his friends have gone. I never quite understand how people cope with this kind of thing who don't have access to prayer. I pester the living daylights out of God at times like this and am very grateful that I can.
Oh and just wanted to leave you with this just because it it - well just very, very good. I made a decision to try and use Bible verses from the Message as much as possible on the blog because it is very accessible but I have really loved it and am getting so much from it myself. Like this from Philippians 1...
"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings So that your love is sincere and intelligent not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary A life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God."
Sometimes people make out that Christians are nice but dim. That our God commands us to follow blindly and not be thoughtful and intelligent. Read this and you will see that sometimes people are wrong.
Thursday, 27 September 2012
Paraphrasing slightly (as usual) from Father of the Bride. There are hymns which I grew up with that used to be part of the national, Christian consciousnesses. For instance I used to love "When a Knight won his Spurs." We don't do them so much now. Remember it?
So lovely and to my old, slightly jaundiced ears, so much better than some of the Jesus is my girlfriend songs we get now. (Don't get worked up, I can give you the names of several thousand witnesses who know that I really appreciate good loud worship and that I bow to no-one in my admiration of Tim Hughes et al)
FOW1 spent some of the summer reading a book for his archaeology degree called "By Sword and Fire - Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare" From what I can make out, most knights spent their time a-pillaging and
a-massacring anything with a pulse rather than your actual gallanting and chivalrying.
This may be why it has fallen out of favour, which I suppose is fair enough. Still, it makes me a little sad. It always made me think of truth and honour being important and seemed to have this spirit of commitment running through it. And I like that and I don't care.
On a less edifying note.Went out Friday night and had to record last episode of Parade's End. Still haven't had time to watch it so have commanded the few people I know who are following it to refrain from any mention of ANYTHING at all that went on. Especially the prospect of jig-a jig. Am not sure this programme is doing my spirituality any good at all as am very much hoping that he leaves his wife and goes off with Valentine. I am not proud of myself.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
I remember you always wandering off as a little boy and having to send Pedro - our chihuahua to find you.
I remember you sitting on my knee when you were perhaps six years old. You and your friend were being interviewed by the police as someone had reported you for vandalising their garden by pulling up all their pansies. You were so upset and full of denials and the policeman was so lovely that we all knew that it couldn't have been you. Until the police man left and you gave me a big theatrical wink.
I remember us decorating Mum's front room and you falling off the step ladders (in a non-ambulance needing kind of way) and the whole thing descended into a Laurel and Hardy farce. Then Mum came in and really told us off while we stifled giggles. I was 28 and you were 20.
I remember how you used to lecture me about God being faithful in all things, especially our weakness and how I should lighten up a bit and just be grateful.
I remember sitting on the train with you to go to Manchester for a job interview. You had had such a bad time with a workplace bully in your first job and this would be such a leap. I was so proud when you got the job and prospered.
I remember that you were the first person I told when HOH first kissed me.
I remember when HOH had his eye operation and how you ferried me backwards and forwards to Manchester. We couldn't have done that without your kindness.
I remember when you lost your way and you hurt so many people in your confusion.
I remember when you told me you were gay and saying "So I'm supposed to be surprised"
I remember as we watched your lifestyle and the concerns we had for your safety both physical and for your heart. I remember us losing each other completely as my disapproval and fear came up against your behaviour.
I remember how you turned up out of the blue and how Liam told us that you had wanted to get your life back on track before you came back. When we came to the celebration at your civil ceremony you asked how I had got to this place. I told you how easy it was. The day that I realised that God just wanted me to love you - not judge you - that was never my place. And I did love you and that was that and everything else flowed from that.
I remember that first Christmas with you and Liam and the evening with the Beatles Rockband. You were very unkind about my drumming.
I remember your breathlessness which became pneumonia. We wondered if it was as a result of your lifestyle (not that it would have made a difference) but the doctors said not. I remember the nurse who told me that although they saved over 90% of people with pneumonia that still meant that they lost nearly 10%.
I remember the day you became one of those 10%. Two years this week. I miss you Bro.
Dave Carter 1969-2010
Monday, 17 September 2012
A long reading - bit and pieces from Exodus. You can read it in more coherent form in the Bible
Sooo, the Children of Israel are on the run from Egypt, because Pharaoh had decided to let them go and then changed his mind, as you do when you are an all powerful despot I suppose. (Just a word of advice - bad move)
They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light;this way they could travel by day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by Day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.
God spoke to Moses "Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon." And that's what happened.
Just to note here that the children of Israel who are not particularly noted for their unquestioning obedience to God are, for once doing exactly what they are told. They followed the Pillar exactly as God commanded and suddenly find that the whole thing goes massively pear shaped as they look behind to see lots of Egyptian shaped armies making a bee line for them. They are trapped. They are on the shore of the sea and the lie of the land means that they cannot go left or right - not to mention the fact that they are quite obviously NOT an army - they are a band of refugees who are not equipped for any sort of fighting at all. They have, to all intents and purposes, followed God into a trap. They then revert immediately to type and begin moaning and groaning and wishing they were dead etc. Moses - again to type - makes a big pronouncement about God while also telling then to back off.
"Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. take a good look at the Egyptians for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!"
The rest is history as they say. The very Pillar of Fire/Cloud that had proved so treacherous to Israel, turned on the Egyptians and they ended up sleeping with the fishes as Italian type people are sometimes heard to say.
So what to learn?
Not all messes are of my making. Sometimes I am being as obedient as I am ever going to get in this lifetime and it still ends up a big pile of poop.
It seems that God actually leads us into horrible places, where there is apparently no escape.
But, if I believe in God is it realistic believing in a God who
a) Ain't that keen on me
b) Is too wishy-washy to actually do anything to help me.
And anyway, all the evidence at my disposal points to a) and b) being a pile of piffle.
There is, of course, always the possibility that God leads us/me into these places to show us
a) How much he loves us by...
b) being God and doing something stupendous and rescuing us.
All I need to do is hand it over, carry on doing what I am told and believe.
I believe. Help me with my doubts
Thursday, 13 September 2012
Faith Teas - this was deliberately unplanned because it was an exercise in faith after all and God would make sure that we all brought different things. He didn't.
Street Witness / Theatre/ Door to Door To this day I cannot believe that I stood on Bolton Precinct doing the "I am the Devil" sketch or that I knocked on complete strangers' doors asking them if they wanted to be a friend of Jesus. I don't suppose it is the concept I dislike (although I have no time personally for uninvited people who knock on my door during Pointless) so much as how absolutely useless I was at it. I would be sick with nerves all day before and not much better after. I was a rubbish actor which is weird because I have done some speaking and enjoyed that. There used to be a sort of unspoken blackmail that said only the most spiritual people could do these things. Ha! My favourite ever door to door night was when I was paired with the man who was eventually to be Head of House and we went to the newsagents, bought a big bag of Maltesers and spent the evening sitting on a wall debating the best Woody Allen film ever made.
Sinners Bucket. HOH wanted me to write about this although I didn't ever see it. You were supposed to bring things like records, cigarettes, alcohol and other wrong things and leave them in a bucket at the front of the church. HOH says he would just like to say thank you to whoever it was in 1986 who brought the Marvin Gaye album because he had been looking for it for months. (This is possibly an urban myth. Possibly)
Washing up after the Sunday night meeting. I know lots of people will still do this now but it is one of my fondest church memories. Various members of the youth group would wash up after the coffee had been served on a Sunday night. We all got on really well and had a whale of a time. I laughed until snot came down my nose. Serving isn't always sacrifice to be frank.
Thank you for all your responses to these posts. It has been really lovely to remember all this and although much has changed for the better, there is very little in my Christian past that I would alter. Except possibly to utterly refuse to do the "I am the Devil" sketch.
Sunday, 9 September 2012
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
As usual, here in the South West, the tourists have gone, the children are back at school and the Indian summer begins. We were visited by some northern folk this week who have been saying how lucky they were with the weather. I think not. This week is always sunny. Odd but true. We went out for tea which is a rare treat and sat outside by the harbour. All very lovely and I enjoyed my meal very much. It was only after it arrived that I realised that I had ordered exactly the same meal (chicken in cream sauce) that I had eaten for tea the day before. I am so predictable.
FOW2 has started 6th form this week and has had to go back to homework so that means less chance of walking into the house at 5pm to find her watching some ridiculous programme on channel Zog or something. For the uninitiated, there is usually a woman interviewing some poor girl or stalking that woman from Steps about either their weight/looks/talent (or lack of it) or reduced family circumstances. There then follows 40 minutes in which a so called "expert" signs her up for plastic surgery or a diet of cauliflower and tissues soaked in orange juice. After six weeks of this when the victim is too woozy to complain, they usually get some fashionista in, who has the air of someone who cannot believe that they are getting away with this. This expert then dresses them up in clothes that would make your cat laugh, tells them that they are beautiful and launches the poor girl out into an unsuspecting world. No wonder our perceptions of ourselves are all over the place.
This week HOH and I had to go to hospital for me to be re-measured for a new prosthesis. (Or Boob in a Box as we like to call it.) Since my skirmish with breast cancer all those years ago I have a kind of pathological distaste for being messed around with physically, especially by people I hardly know. No touchy unless I say so is my motto. Because of this, I have put off re-measuring for far too long and the aforementioned false booble is now looking very much worse for wear. We turned up to hospital. HOH is always my wing-man on these trips. He takes no nonsense - especially from bossy medical people. (Probably because it takes one to know one) So I went in for the fitting and was introduced to a very nice lady called Mandy who asked to have a look at my rubber booble. There was a moments embarrassment as I tried to surreptitiously remove a bit of sticking plaster that I was using to cover up a bit of it that had split but she pretended not to notice so that was ok. Unfortunately, as it was so old, we couldn't see what size it was. before you go for a fitting you are supposed to go and get your bra size professionally decided on at M&S or somewhere. Well that was never going to happen (see reasoning above) so I just read out my bra size from my own bra. The size for this bra came from my own very loose calculations which assumed that I had put on quite a bit of weight and was veering towards hefferdom. Mandy frowned a bit and did a bit of complicated measuring. then produced a bra and prosthesis for me. It fitted perfectly and lo and behold when I turned sideways - I had a rack! Mandy gently broke it to me that (a) my back size is four inches smaller than I had given her and (b) My boob size is 3 sizes bigger! It's a win-win!
So you are wondering, after all this unpleasantness why I am sharing this with you. It's because once again I find out that I always fall into the same trap.Too many times I assume the worst about myself - not just physically as here but spiritually and as a person. If in doubt, it is sometimes so easy to look at ourselves and veer towards the negative and shrink into ourselves. I am aware of how imperfect I am before God but he looks at me (and you mate) and points at us and says "Ooh she's lovely she is. Lovely enough to rescue and love and encourage and do great things with." We simply have to get hold of this and get confident enough to harvest fields, change worlds, challenge injustice and throw our shoulders back admiring our lovely contours.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
Anyway, think I am on the right side of it now. My arms and legs still feel like lead and I am prone to the occasional bout of sudden coughing which makes the little dog peg into the garden with horror but am definitely getting there.
The offspring have returned from camp with the usual interesting suitcases. Sometimes, when I feel a bit intimidated by the thought of heaven, I look at how the kids are when they return from these things and think it might well be fine (Don't tell me you don't get a bit scared by Heaven sometimes. Especially when people say it will be like one long Sunday service.)
One brilliant story. One of the younger kids is Romanian and his grasp of English isn't perfect. However FOW1 was happy to help him when he came up and asked
"Excuse me. Where is the toilet?"
That was fine, except that was day four!!?! What had been happening up until then? Don't think about it. I'm trying not to.
I have been rooting around my Bible a bit as usual. (When I'm ill I like to look up - "This is sickness is not unto Death." - #encouragement) I just wanted to tell you this. It has helped and challenged me. I did tell you that I was working on the concept of thankfulness after reading Ann Voskamp's book. One of the things thankfulness does for me is that it puts pauses in my life. It stops me going off on one. I know someone (not me for once) who, when bad things happen sort of howls "Oh noooo God why are you doing this to me?" as a sort of immediate response. In a way that is a natural response but it jumps too quickly to complaint mode for me and if I start complaining I am liable never to stop. I am trying to train myself to pause, so that when things happen, I take a breath, then think.
1. Is it likely that God wants to kill me?
2. If not is it more likely that God is on my side?
3. What are my evidences in my life when God had most certainly been on my side?
4. Say thanks for these evidences
5. Take logical next step which means that same God will invoke same process of listening and intervening, spurred on by his inexplicable love for me and pray sensibly and thankfully rather than in hysterically whingey voice.
What I think that this can do is provide God with elbow room. I know that he is God and doesn't need elbow room -don't write to the Baptist Union. I mean elbow room to work with me. A pause for him to ask me a question, to point something out or even to re-position things. I'm not saying that all things then immediately fall into place but it seems to be saving me a lot of worry. Rather than thinking "Well what if this is disastrous and God doesn't help?" I am trying to move to "Before you panic too much, remember what God has done for you. He may well be happy to do even more."
Anyway, have to go. Back to work tomorrow. Time and Tide and the Ring and Ride bus wait for no-one. (Well the bus does obviously otherwise no-one could get on and off it but you get my drift.)
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