Quick Call

This is a little itsy bitsy blog. Just to check in really. Spent the weekend feeling a bit ill with a full on headachy thing. My old mother says that sometimes when you feel ill, its a warning that you are overdoing it/stressed/pooped or all of the above and that feeling a bit off is your body’s way of prioritising you taking a rest. So that’s what I am doing.
This means this weekend I had to give up on

  • Big cook in and freezing stuff (have actually thrown some food away aaaagh!)
  • Trying new chocolate cake recipe   (Lin, if you are reading this, the reason I am trying new recipe for chocolate cake is because you keep forgetting to bring me yours!)
  • Church and the return of our beloved pastor
  • A trip to the cinema to watch the Danny Boyle’s stage production of Frankenstein as above (Much looked forward to)
  • My blog

Still, thems the breaks I’m afraid. I am putting this sorry carcass first for a couple of days. Normal service resumed next week. DV *Lies down and puts another Mentalist DVD in the machine*

Beautiful or useful….

……or loved.
I am trying to deal with a character flaw. Trying and failing. Apparently, one of the things that is preventing me surging forward into being a mighty woman of God is my inability to streamline my life. Specifically, my struggle with clutter. I have had a book on this from the library. There are a lot of these books about. These books promise me that they will show me the great secret to sorting my life out. Having read a good few of these books, my first reaction is to wonder which chumps give these people publishing deals. In every single one of them we discover that the great secret to de cluttering my life is to – wait for it – throw things out! Insight bordering on the supernatural there I think you’ll find.
I have to make clear here that I am not one of those people you see on the telly who live in six feet of filth and have to have counselling before throwing out a newspaper with a headline showing the Hindenburg on fire. These are people who are not well. I am not mentally ill – or certainly not in a way that manifests itself this way. Whether it is balanced behaviour to get up early on Saturday morning to watch four back to back episodes of The Mentalist you will need to judge for yourselves. (By the way – box set – great birthday present family of mine)
So, we know it isn’t as bad as it could be but could it be better? Could I sail through life unencumbered by stuff. I do admire those who seek to live life more simply. Thinkers and peaceable people who have managed to pare back their lives. I am not one of these people. It’s just that so much of my life is tied up in things. Witness the shelf in our bedroom. (s’cuse dust) It’s full not just of things but memories.
Candlesticks – bought on a lovely, in and out of shops, kind of day in Modbury when we had just moved South West.
The Angel Statue – given to me by the cast of a play I directed in my old church. Pleasant surprise – thought they hated me.
Jo Malone Candle – Christmas Present from Mum and Brother. Would never spend that sort of dosh on a candle for me. Gets lit on high days and holidays only.
Family Photos – No explanation necessary
Kissing Pigs – Bought on first ever trip to York as married couple. Not high art I know. Ask me if I care.
Perfume Bottle – Gift from HOH. None of your business.
Red Candle Sticks – Usually brought down for Christmas Table.
Teddy Bear – Pinched from present bundle we made up for friends’ baby. Look, we bought the baby clothes from GAP – it’s enough for anyone.
Teddy Bear is wearing necklace Fruit of Womb 1 brought back from school trip to Germany. Can’t say I actually wore it but the thought and everything.

In terms of money, there’s nothing too valuable there. The memories are the greatest value possible. Call me a sentimental old bessie but I would rather deal with a bit of a dust trap that makes me happy than a streamlined empty space that leaves me more time to take over the world or whatever it is I am supposed to be doing. You are not supposed to have anything in your house that isn’t beautiful or useful. What about stuff you love? I’m building relationship, family, friendship here. I realised long ago that I wasn’t able to build an efficient palace that would get me into Minimalist Weekly. Fortunately, that never did float my boat.

Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.
1 Peter 2

Send One Victorious

Ok so, miles behind today. People in Plymouth are grimly determined to get into the Jubilympic Spirit and risking life and limb to put up their bunting even in the teeth of a gale.(see neighbour above.)
Have approximately 20 minutes to write this as have just prepared large Jubilympic Lunch (Chicken pie, potatoes and roasted carrots followed by home made strawberry semi – freddo since you ask)
I have just watched Her Maj watching what must have seemed like a million boats go by as she smiled and waved and refused to sit down. I hope she had at least slipped her shoes off and got her slippers on.
If you don’t live in this country, you may well have no idea how big a deal the Diamond Jubilee is here so, as it is a criminal offence in Great Britain to write about anything else at the moment – you can have my thought about what the Jubilee means to me.

  1. Two Days Off Work. Hurrah for the Monarchy! (Except for Head of House, he’s been quite tetchy about not having any time off, which I think is quite selfish. Anyway, I would have thought it would be a privilege to spend the day in hospital serving old people who remember the Coronation etc. Apparently not.)
  2. It’s a chance to think about how quickly time passes. It really doesn’t seem two minutes since the Silver Jubilee. We had a street party and everything then. There has been no interest in having something like that here. There are some very good reasons for that. We are on quite a busy road/It has rained all day/Half of our road is made up of students who probably have no wish to socialise with us after HOH broke up their party at 3am with threats to call the police and other shouty things which probably should not come out of a mature Christian’s mouth. I do remember the Silver Jubilee well though. My offspring give me respect because they are impressed that I remember that the Sex Pistols really hit the big time that year. There is probably no need to tell them that I wasn’t exactly thrilled at their arrival. *Me, watching Sex Pistols “Did he just spit then? Seriously? Dirty Pig!”* 
  3. Even though, in my heart of hearts, I am not sure that a Monarchy is something a grown up country should be having in this day and age, I bow to no one in my respect for her Maj. She stands for values like constancy, commitment, duty and doing the right thing. Sometimes people say that she has lived through everything. Well she probably hasn’t actually. She hasn’t lived through poverty or debt. She hasn’t been made redundant or worried about how to pay the mortgage. But, with the highly favourable life that she has been blessed with, she has still chosen the harder way and committed herself to her country with an admirable sure footedness. Maybe the only time she faltered was at the death of Diana. (You need to realise that I think that “The Queen” with Helen Mirren was actually a documentary) Even then, time has shown that she was ok and it was everyone else that went mad. 
  4. She may well be that last “Christian” monarch we ever have. I know that is a bit sweeping and it is one of those things that we don’t notice until she is gone but (and again – I have no evidence for this whatsoever) I wonder how much influence she has exerted on those around her and how much her faith has helped her to hold the line under all sorts of pressure.
  5. I don’t live in a perfect country and who knows where it is heading but The Jubilee makes me think that this country is ok really. It could be worse. Which is a very British thing to think.

Anyway, tomorrow is the concert thingy led by Sir Gary Of Barlowton as he is surely soon to be. Don’t know if I will watch it. Am still traumatised by sight of the Princes “getting down” at the last jamboree they organised. There are some things that the Royal family should never allow themselves to do in public. 

Listen, I really have to go now. I have been late for church the last three Sunday nights running which is not acceptable, not big, not clever and certainly not stiff upper lip British behaviour.Rushing Now….

Education, education, education

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. 
Romans 5

I have sacrificed my afternoon for you to come in out of the glorious Devon sunshine and write this. Although, to be honest, I think I was just getting to that stage where someone was about to say – “You look a bit red” and you realise that your skin feels a bit sting-y. It’s a bit weird here because the heat and a cloudless sky are accompanied by a near gale force breeze. (Hence the photo above – Californian Poppies – not blurry but blowy)
We are all in full GCSE mode still. Anyone with offspring will know that exams are not just confined to the person taking them. Everyone else in the family is either helping revision, or being supportive or trying to make sure everyone is happy or worrying or all of the above.
Like most sane people, I am a great believer in education. Education is how people learn things. Some things may prove to be more useful than others. But, whether it’s being taught why Sylvia Plath didn’t just cheer up a bit and have a Magnum in the garden, or what difference it makes to you that two men digging a hole in Whitby take an hour to do it if they use bigger spades, education is a “good thing”, I think we all agree.(That’s a statement – not a question – Fruit of Womb Two!)
Education though, takes many different forms. I saw some in action this week when I was walking to work. A dad was walking his little girl to school and she was unhappy. Very unhappy. She toddled along behind him, lunch box in one hand, school case in the other, sobbing her little heart out. She did not want to walk. Her dad then turned round and quietly said, “Act your age, you need to walk, it’s not very far.” He then took her case and her lunch box from her and pressed on to school with a very vocal little person following behind. She was such a little chicken, I wondered why he didn’t just scoop her up and carry her – if only for a quiet life.
He was right though, she needed to learn. He was prepared to do everything to help her – taking away her bags  – but he wouldn’t do it for her. I suppose loads of you are ahead of me now, but I did think how often I have thrown up sulky prayers which go along the lines of  “You are God – You can therefore do anything. So why are you not getting me out of this mess?” Sometimes, just to add insult to injury, I will add. “You say you are supposed to love me. hah” Slightly embarrassed but it’s true.
I do know though, that the idea is that I am supposed to learn from God. I am supposed to mature and to grow into someone who looks as though they have spent time with someone who is better than them and whose wisdom and goodness is having an impact. This will not happen if I get lifted out of every crisis, many of which are of my own making, like some kind of spiritual episode of the A Team. This is not to say that God doesn’t intervene miraculously, and that we are not to ask for that. When I was very ill a few years ago, a “well meaning” Christian person informed me that God was not our “all bases rescuer” I had two things to say to that – fairly graciously actually.
a) That’s very easy for you to say as you are not the one with the life threatening diagnosis
b) I think he is just that – my all bases rescuer. Just not always the way I would want him to be.

It’s all a learning process and sometimes it’s painful. We still have to go though things – lots of things. There are times when, although I suspect that nothing would make God happier than scooping us up and carrying us through life; the wisdom of God means that all he does is take our Marvel Avengers lunchbox from us, so that the load is a bit lighter and encourage us from the sidelines.

This made me think about Tim Vine gently satirising the “Footprints” poem. (he is a Christian and it is therefore allowed) You know the bit when the Christian asks – “Why Lord, when things were most difficult are there only one set of footprints?” and Jesus answers
“My beloved child, when you look back and see one set of footprints, it is then I should tell you that at that point I had decided that it might be more fun to hop!”

Have a good week. One last thing – if you haven’t voted for Sherlock at the BAFTAS, I will not be very pleased. You know who you are. PS Will actually also accept a vote for Great British Bake off.

Oooh baby do you know what that’s worth…..

So, I am reading this Rob Bell at the moment. Bit disappointed so far. Firstly, I had been told that it was controversial and stated that hell/heaven doesn’t exist. Well he doesn’t seem to have said it so far, unless I missed it. (Wouldn’t be the first time)
To be fair, I haven’t finished yet so the juicy bit may be on the way. Secondly, I do find his writing style a bit annoying..  Not so much the style, it’s the way it’s set out. Like it’s written for idiots. Especially from the man who is supposed to be the great communicator. It’s all this

One Line
Followed by another line
Followed by a.
Then a pause.
Erm, what did he just say?

It’s probably just me. It usually is. He does ask some really important, difficult questions about eternity. Wish I understood his answers. I’ll tell you what I do like about it though. I like the general theme about heaven sort of starting now. When I was a young Christian lass, it was considered very un-spiritual to think about this life too much. We were going to leave it all behind to go to the “meeting in the air” – which was hopefully going to be a bit more lively than some I went to, so “the world”as it was rather negatively called could just go and boil its head. We were to wait for Jesus, while bouncing up and down at meetings, occasionally going out to bark thinly veiled threats to people about hell and wondering why people didn’t come to church.
I remember being surprised to learn that there were people who were translating their faith into being very much alive now which led to social justice, caring for others, trying to change the world and having a good time while you were doing it. I sort of pointed at this gang and informed my lot that I was going over there to play. I think it is generally a “good thing” that Christians seem to be more engaged with this life. Young Christians often now have a life plan, ambition and a career (even the women). These are some of the things I wish were around when I was younger like penicillin, electricity, David Beckham and votes for women. (this is more or less how old my kids think I am)
When the final trump sounds (cue sniggering from young people) the last thing I want to be is someone who never really engaged with life. You only have to look in the Bible to see the roller-coaster life that people lived. It surely is never too late. Sarah was 90 when she had Isaac. And then he was nothing but a worry to her what with his dad trying to kill him and everything. That would be the same dad who tried to pass her off as his sister (therefore making her available to all comers) because he was too chicken to stand up for her. It wasn’t all fun but it was certainly life!
I know living life means different things to different people. A stay at home home-schooling mum (check out this brilliant blog) who feels called to do it is as valued with God as Wilberforce. It’s about finding who you are meant to be in this life and making the most of it. This takes time, effort and pushing through when it all goes horribly wrong. And it means digging deep and making difficult decisions. It also sometimes means having a pretty exciting time – now. Then whatever God has got to follow, surely can only be a bonus.

Rant on the way – People of a nervous disposition look away.
The Olympic Torch came over from Cornwall last night. Now I am not from round here but there are a lot of people I like here and I think a lot of the place. I despaired therefore when I head that the original idea was to bring the torch over the Tamar Bridge IN A VAN! IN CASE IT HELD UP THE TRAFFIC!!! Plymouth – the eyes of the world are upon you! The Tamar Bridge is stunning. Why not go the whole hog and bring it over in an Ivor Dewdney pasty van driven by Larry Spear? (Nothing wrong with Larry Spear – been very generous to the charity I work for, but you know what I mean) Sometimes you have to step up for an occasion. Sanity prevailed in the end I believe and someone got to run across. *sighs deeply and shakes head*