Sunday, 29 April 2012

Learning to scratch

She was sixteen this week. Sixteen! When did that happen? She is stunning, brainy, funny and kind. How did that happen? Takes after Head of House probably. Sometimes, when HOH and I struggle with what we may have achieved in our lives, we look at the people God helped us to make and think - that's not a bad thing we did there is it?
I have struggled a bit to write this week. Nothing dramatic. Just struggled. On a cursory viewing, the week has been fine. She turned sixteen, without any major mishaps. In my own personal opinion, I wasn't too keen on the birthday cake I produced. The girl requested chocolate brownies rather than your basic cake and I was fine with that - done it plenty of times before.The thing was I left it as late as possible to do the cake so that it would still be warm. Unfortunately, this meant that the gooey bit hadn't cooled enough when I came to cut them. So, although they did taste pretty scrummy, the final result did ever so slightly remind me of a candle and glitter bedecked cow pat. Everyone pretended not to notice which was nice.
So it's been a good week really with lots of good things happening and yet I have felt a bit blah, really. Sometimes this can just be due to life. Being tired, pinging your back out cleaning the stairs, your belly having an unfortunate reaction to mackerel on toast. Sometimes though, blahhness has to be chased down. Whatever it is that's making you itch has to be found and scratched. If you can do this much peace will come your way - indeedy.
So the first thing to do is to turn off the TV/Computer/Radio or any other distractions. We are supposed to be in a living relationship with God. Make some space to help his look at this with you.
Then, find some time, to actually shut up and have some silence. Ask God to show you what it is that is affecting you. Sometimes when you do this, God will point you towards the mackerel reaction, two paracetamol and an afternoon watching Sherlock re-runs. He is very aware that sometimes we overdo it and need to slow down. Exhibit A - Elijah whingeing was dealt with by rest and food and water supplied by God's own Raven Delivery Service. If I were God (How grateful we all are that this will never be true) I would have probably dealt with it with a thunderbolt and a big echoy voice shouting "I have just given you a spectacular victory. BUCK UP or I will get someone else!" Still, that's me and I'm not proud of it.
Sometimes, there are things that need to be dealt with. Say sorry. Put something right. Although, there are times when things cannot be put right and unpleasantness will happen.
We need to be developing a regular habit of letting God show us what is making us itch and then showing us how to scratch it. He doesn't always change the circumstances. He always provides the support to survive it.
And when I did this, I found that there were three or four things lurking in the back of my mind that had been worrying me to different degrees over the last few weeks. I can't share them with you because some involve people who may read this and one is quite frankly so stupid, it is embarrassing. But when I identify them - I can pray about them. Then things begin to change. When I identify my woes, I can see what I can do to deal with them or pass them to a saviour who can not only deal with them quite capably thank-you but also provides peace in the midst of his dealings.
Witness the old hymn
O what peace we often forfeit.
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Sometimes it pays to spend some time with your spiritual magnifying glass, examine until you find out what ails you and pray in a specific way. Then, when you look back at what God did you can say thank you - equally specifically. How good does it feel when, having found an itch, you finally get to scratch it? I rest my case m'lud.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

An Attentive God

You may or may not know (or care) that I walk to work most mornings. I try, where possible to make this into a spiritual time. Actually I walk Fruit of Womb Two to the bus stop with the dogs first but  the combination of school chat, mad Jacks, stinky poo bags and the old man I talk to in the park make any kind of spiritual activity there impossible.
So later, when I walk to work, the idea is that I use the time alone to connect with God. That's the idea. Sometimes I listen to books etc.on the old MP3 thingy. Sometimes I try to pray. If I could have written the word "try" in the previous sentence in big shiny pink glittery letters, I would have done. Because "try" is indeed the operative word. I thought I might share this prayer time with you. The normal font is how my thoughts and prayers are supposed to go. The italics are where they often really go. All names have been changed or left out or both.

Leaving House
Lord, as another day starts, I just want to commit it to you and all that is about to happen in this day that you have given us.
Did I actually lock the door? Ooh look - number 5 are having their windows done.
Lord, first of all I want to thank you for all that you have done for me. That I am still here and for the life that you have given me with all its challenges and joys.
Bit heavier on the challenges than the joys if I am totally honest at the moment. 
For my family as we go our separate ways today. For HOH at work and FOW 2 at school and for FOW1 as he..
Rats. Don't think I told FOW1 to put the washing out and he'll never think to do it. Students. Pah!

Walking down Road to Park
Father, I just want to commit.......... to you. Help her as she makes decisions about her future with all the things she has to consider. Give her wisdom and peace and a balance in her life.
Speaking of balance, watch it here. Last time you weren't paying attention here, you caught your foot and went flying. There was blood and tears and scar tissue. Wonder if people see me every morning and think. "There's that woman that fell over."
Lord and for..................Haven't seen him in ages. Keep watch over him.
Wonder what "Shellac" is? Says it there in hairdressers.

Entering Park
Father and for family far away.  Aunty....... and ........ as they go on their cruise.
Lucky so and sos
And for our church and the work that is going on all the time in the local community. Bless those who work so hard and show me ways to support them.

Crossing road after leaving park
Father help me to commit all aspects of my life to you and not to try and carry them myself. Help me to be kind and thoughtful.
"Same to you stupid driver. I was too looking!"

Approaching work
So Lord today, help me to appreciate this world that you have put me in. Lord it is too wide and deep for me to comprehend but let me be aware of your hand in all things and give me wisdom to deal with all things today.
"Oh no. Think the rough sleepers have pooed in the car park again."

As you have probably guessed, I have not shared this with you so that you can be impressed by the profound depth of my prayer life. To be fair to me (and I am always fair to me) this is not all that my prayer life consists of,  but I share it to reiterate that God, for reasons that totally escape me, in interested in all aspects of our lives. Even though he is more than aware of how many times I fail. He is listening. He is paying attention. He is able to help me do this better.But for now he is working with the crumbs that I sometimes give him. It really is amazing don't you think?

It's well known that God isn't at the beck and call of sinners but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will.
John 9 The Message


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Oh it's a jolly 'oliday with Martha

I have had a week off. Well ten days really if you include the Easter break. It has been lovely. Of course the weather broke down the day before I finished but that was fine - I expected that. Good weather had not been in my plans. For I have been PRODUCTIVE. (For at least some of the time.) Now productive is as productive does as people almost never say and one person's productive is another person's lazing around doing nothing. However, in the interests of scientific research, I shall list the highlights of my week and leave you to make up your own minds as to whether it was productive or not..
1. I have cleaned the rugs. This involved dragging an industrial cleaner, the size of a small trailer home from Morrisons to use for a day. The instructions were about the same level of complication as those needed to launch a missile but I bravely fought my way through. You should have seen the colour of the water! I'm surprised Health and Safety haven't been round to close us down. I blame the dogs. Anyway - you could eat off these rugs now - if you wanted to.
2. I have cleaned out the pantry. Well I say pantry. Nigella has nothing to fear. It's a cupboard under the stairs. All the redcurrant jelly and other Christmas detritus has bitten the dust. (Actually not as much this year as I was quite organised. Most of the waste came from relatives giving me stuff we wouldn't use. Biscuits for Cheese anyone?) I hate uncooked cheese (it's like yoghurt - its milk that's gone off) There is a limit to how much crunching up of biscuits to use as breadcrumbs I can do so the box has gone. Sorry all frugalistas.
I have put all my tins in order. So I know what I have and don't get caught buying another four pack of tuna. Look - it never goes off!
3. I have cleaned out my wardrobes. (Do you see a pattern emerging? You may well be asking - how filthy is this place - it needs a lot of cleaning) But my wardrobe wasn't dirty. Just full of stuff. I have removed all unwanted stuff about five yards to my "Car Boot Pile". Head of House is threatening mutiny unless I get rid within the next week. Pah!
4. I have sorted all bills etc. into new filing cabinet. Thus reducing need to go crawling under the bed to retrieve cardboard box full of bills when trying to check how much money South West Water are fleecing us for this year. On a side note. You may not realise that water bills are astronomical here in the South West of England. This, apparently, is because we have such lovely coastline here and we need to pay huge sums of money to keep it like that. Think of that next time you visit Devon and Cornwall. You won't see me. I'm too busy working to pay the water bill to get to the beach.
5. I have finished a chapter of what I laughingly call "My Book"
6. I have been to see "The King and I" with a chum. I think we brought the average age of the audience down by about 20 years but the songs are so lovely. As I have said before - a little confused by the King of Siam appearing to father so many blond children with Devon accents, however, this did not detract from a good night out.
7. I have gained a very high skill level on Solitaire Blitz. This has come through lots of practice. Unfortunately, the practice was done when I was supposed to be working on point 5.
8. Have taken offspring on tour of house to introduce new tidiness regime. When you were little, did you ever shout into a bucket and hear your voice echoing back to you from the empty void? It was a bit like that.
9. Have tried to watch DVD of "Tinker Tailor" with commentary. Unfortunately my grasp of the remote control is not what it was and only succeeded in putting the subtitles on. Had to settle for watching back to back Horrible Histories instead. Complete genius. Am working on learning lyrics to theme song.
10. Have had top notch evening with cinema, chippy tea (chips and gravy for me) and white wine. Doesn't get any better than that.

Anyway, back to work Monday, if I can fit it in. Have a great week.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter (With Spoilers)

So sorry this is late. Easter weekend you know. Eggs to buy (How much? You are joking?) Rocky Road to make. Tablecloths to find and try and get clean. Lamb to roast. You get the idea. This year has been a bit different. For several mixed up reasons I have spent my first Easter Sunday for many a year not making it to church. (Please don't send the Christian Police round. The reasons are legit, if a bit annoying)
I'm not usually too bothered about missing Sundays. Having worked in a church and therefore having to serve people who felt that if the door was open, I should be there, I find the odd missed Sunday is a blessing. Didn't like not being there on Easter Sunday though.
So took the dogs and went down the park. It was quiet believe it or not and quite warm. Just tried to think what it must have been like that first morning - when everything was starting again. That morning when all there was to see was an empty grave and a set of clean crisp grave clothes. On a day to day basis we (well by "we" I usually mean me) get so caught up in living on a day to day basis, but it repays us well to muse on the miraculous. It takes a leap to think about about a dead man coming to life. I think it helps if you believe that he is the Son of God. Makes that leap a bit easier.
On Good Friday I saw a tweet saying  "RIP Jesus Christ" is trending (Shush) Nobody spoiler bomb this for these people. I think it was meant to be heavy with irony but we haven't had irony in the South West since 1962 so I liked it. Because he wasn't resting in peace - he was on his way back. To stand in the gap. So we had a man speaking for us in the heavenlies. You know, no-one ever did something like that for me before. Either Jesus is amazing or I am quite something myself. Or both. Maybe.
While we are musing on death as you do I found this. Food for thought here. If the gift of life has been given to us. How do we use it? Maybe we ask could ask someone for whom the gift is ending.
Lastly, am writing this while Head of House is in front room listening to Gladys Knight on telly singing "Every Beat of My Heart" first recorded in 1961. Disturbingly he is loudly informing Fruit of Womb Two that you could - direct quote - "build a piggin' church round this". This is not theologically sound doctrine obvs but despite that am sure he loves God, God loves him and he makes me very happy, therefore we shall let him off, this time.
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