Thursday, 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

Hello. Just to let you know that the blog will be going quiet over the Christmas period and I will be back with deep insights for living (or failing that lots of inane observations) in the New Year.
And, bowing to huge public demand, all that remains is for Martha Towers and especially Aged Parent (with assistance from FOW1) to wish you all a Blessed Christmas and an Amazing New Year

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Nativity Overkill

It has been suggested to me that Five Nativity sets may possibly be a little over the top. I am not sure about that and I'm not taking any notice of anyone anyway but I thought I might just introduce you to them. (This is nothing like introducing you to my children either) The set above is the newest addition and this is cool and elegant Jesus with a free Bethlehem background. 
This is cute Jesus and has the advantage of having the whole stable shenanigans attached. No blu tac needed. Real straw too, therefore highly authentic
This is "I've No Idea Where This Is From Jesus" so called because I have no recollection of buying it. Still, all are welcome here.
This is Inca Fairtrade Jesus AND you can put a tealight in it. That is all.
And this is my oldest child Nativity. If you look closely you can see that most of them are propped up against each other because they have a lot of bits missing. A great deal of the damage was caused by FOW1 doing secret death match fights using them as action figures when he was little but I sort of thought if Joseph wasn't man enough to take Spiderman then God would never have chosen him to look after Mary and Jesus. Five? Too many? Nah.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Pause in Advent #4

Gari Melchers
I wouldn't claim to know anything about good art or bad art. I just think this is amazing. Not because of the draughtsmanship which I know nothing about but I love the sentiment. Mary and Joseph are in a dirty back room. Mary has just given birth and is exhausted. Joseph looks as though he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. No angels yet or shepherds or wise men. Just a quiet moment of wondering - is this it?
Maybe sometimes miracles have very unprepossessing starts. Not every answer to prayer comes with an angel bursting through the door playing "In The Mood" on his trumpet. Sometimes we have to screw our eyes up a bit to see exactly what this seed can become. Like the tiny cloud, the size of a fist, when what the people need is a huge deluge of rain. Sometimes we have to nurture the answer, which comes quietly and without fanfare and believe that this is God, starting to answer our prayers. Seeing with the eyes of faith I think they used to call it. God may be sending us the answer we need already, we need to respond to his prompting and ask and see if he wants us to do anything to develop his miracle in our lives.  Mary and Joseph had to do it. Out of a very unpromising start came the miracle they had been promised. But it  must have looked very dark there for a while - even when things had started to move. 

This is my last part of A Pause in Advent. There are some great blogs out there about Advent. Always a blessing - never a chore. Please feel free to link in and take a look

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Pause in Advent #3

Mary. You know, I think she was quite a person. I was thinking about her last night as I was blu-tacking my newest Nativity set on  to a shelf. (That makes five in total I think. NO ONE can say that they don't see anything of the original Christmas story when they visit this house at Christmas) 

I re-read the beginning of Luke and was amazed to see how much of her early journey with God was so counter intuitive to what would usually be expected.

When the Angel first visits to tell her of her pregnancy, she asks how, but once she's told, there's no "I don't fancy this, think of the trouble it will cause" Or "Are you sure? Because I will need some kind of proof - otherwise - you know - what will Joseph think?" She is certain of what she has been told, and full of praise for the miracle she is about to witness, sets her face forward to meet head on anything that is about to happen.

She leaves with Joseph when heavily pregnant. Leaves her mother - and the women who would certainly have been her birth partners behind and ploughs on alone; possibly with a man who was still eyeing her sideways and wondering if he had really heard the whole truth. Yet she is still determined to see this through. He own personal hardship does not dim the vision she has been given.

When the shepherds came, all full of stories of angel choirs and confirmation of all that she had been told, she could have stood up and shouted - "See, I told you so!" but the Bible says she kept it all in her heart - not to needing to justify herself. 

It was, obviously, a special and different time. God would see his plans come to pass and Mary would have his protection. Sometimes when I look at her and what was already within her - it seems that God saw something in this woman and picked her out - something neither she nor those around her were maybe aware of. There are maybe lessons here for all of us about what God sees in us and what we see in ourselves. What we feel is achievable and what God knows is achievable. It's switching from one track to the other that is the challenge for us.

Part of A Pause In Advent 2015.
Go here to link up to some great stuff.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


To the Joy Unbounded that is B and M Bargains. We have taken Aged Parent because she has always wanted to go to the massive B and Ms in Cornwall. Have given Head of House a stern talking to. He is not a great shopper (unless he is in Armani and those days are long gone, Buster). He likes to go in, choose what he wants and leave - preferably within thirty seconds. This is the exact Polar Opposite of Aged Parent who feels if an aisle is worth looking at, it's worth looking at four times. I feel that if everyone compromises, all will be well. Thirty minutes in, we are halfway down Aisle One and Head of House is sitting disconsolately on a £19.99 chaise longue which doesn't look that sturdy to me. I am running between the two trying to keep everyone happy. Well, actually Aged Parent is oblivious to any tension as she is thrilled by her purchase of 40 Christmas cards for £1.99. I am quite concerned that when you hold them up you can see through them but she reassures me that it is "Only for the people in the Sheltered Housing"
Head of House cheers up a bit when we find an enormous steak and kidney pudding in a tin, which is technology at its most advanced as far as he is concerned. After what seems like a lifetime, we retreat to Waitrose next door for overpriced coffee and a pastry that Aged Parent has to take all the nuts off. She shares interesting story about a lady she knows who was "a bit of a girl" when she was younger.
"Apparently, all the Matelans were queuing up for her when she was young"
"Mum, I don't claim to be an expert in naval terms but I'm pretty certain that it is "Matelots" that you mean."
Aged Parent gives me hard stare and moves on - completely unconvinced that these sailors do not share their name with the well known discounting store.
Anyway - bottom line. Nice morning really - once we all got used to each other.
HOH and I soothed our troubled brows later on by going to see Bridge of Spies. It's very good. Really good. Spielberg is really very good at what he does for a living.
In other exciting news. I have booked my Star Wars tickets. I'm not going on the first night because that's when all the people who like to dress up as Wookies go and that's a bit much even for me. Am going as soon as I can after that though. Happy Days! 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Pause in Advent #2

Our Advent services proper started this morning at church. A good title don't cha think? Clever. Nothing to do with me. This morning we were talking about (well - I wasn't - the pastor was) ..John, John The Baptist that was it, and Zachariah and Elizabeth. And I got thinking (After the service obviously - I was paying rapt attention throughout) It was the angel, that did it. The rustle of an angel's wing. Small beginnings. An almost imperceptible noise. Did the shepherds hear that flutter before they saw the angels  in all their glory?

And a prayer. The answer to a prayer. Zachariah and Elizabeth had thought it was too late for them. Zachariah hears the rustle of an angel's wings just while going about his day to day business in the temple and then he sees the miracle. 

Sometimes things start small. An answer may not come how you expect it. We should maybe learn to see God answering us quietly first and in unexpected ways. Such as the kindness of a local businessman who offers his shed to a young couple with nowhere to sleep. Or a star, a twinkly light in an unexpected place, reminding us we are loved and watched over.

We can despair or think we are forgotten. We can worry that the promised end seems as far away as ever. Yet, at this time, something in the heavens was stirring as God moved to put his plan into action. Sometimes it was obvious and angels sang in the sky but the small signs of God moving must have been there before, when people - shepherding their sheep, serving their God (though fearing they had been forgotten) and exhaustedly keeping on going despite everything -  out of nowhere, suddenly heard the rustle of an angel's wings 

Part of A Pause In Advent. Lots of good stuff linked through here


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

For the outsiders

I was just thinking, as you do. I kept thinking about those who feel on the outside of things – for whatever reason. Those who feel passed over. Those who never feel asked to the party. Those who feel it all goes on without them being able to be part of things. Three stories
The woman who hemorrhaged – for twelve years mind you – this was no passing ailment. She had been brought so low that as she reached out for Jesus, through the throng and those stronger than her, the place she was at was on the floor. So low that as she reached out her hand she touched the lowest, furthest part of him. It was all she could do. It didn’t matter. It was enough. Jesus felt her touch. He responded.  No one is too low.
The woman at the well. So sick of herself. So afraid of the constant judgement of the predicament she had got into, that she absented herself from life. She went to the well – did the things that were necessary for everyday life – at times when no one else was there. She cut herself off. Avoided everyone who might pass judgement. And Jesus finds her. He finds her in her hiding place. He goes out of his way and outside of the expected timeframe to find her. He talks to her through the looks he gets from his disciples, because he sees the person, even though he is well aware of the life she lives.
The centurion with the sick servant. He is from a different culture – a different understanding. He is not sure how to reach this Jesus. He does not feel on the same page, knows he needs something but cannot quite see how to get over the gulf. He sends out messengers – forerunners. He protects himself by insisting that Jesus doesn’t need to come. He manages to reach out while insisting on a distance. Jesus can work with that. He can take whatever you feel you can give. He will love at whatever point you are at. Jesus took it as a great credit that the centurion had felt able to reach out at all.

The lost, the lonely, the marginalised – either by life’s circumstances or their own behaviour. So many stories about Jesus and his ability to reach all – even the most trembly, crushed and messed up. 
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