I am late. I thought of trying to pass this off as deliberate so I could write happy thoughts to you on what might be the most depressing day of the year, Black Monday. Apparently, we have staggered through three Mondays since Christmas and therefore cannot possibly carry on any further. (Although I’m not sure that it qualifies because, although it is the third Monday of the month, the first Monday was New Year’s Day when all was happy and bright etc so does that count?) Anyway, I have enough on my plate without trying to be depressed because it is Black Third Monday or some other ridiculous thing.

It is cold and dark here. I’ll be honest, I was finished with Winter as soon as Christmas passed. I don’t see the attraction personally. I understand that, underground, new life is forming etc etc but these are thoughts too wonderful for me; especially when I can’t find my gloves in the bottom of my bag and my knuckles are blue.

Speaking of thoughts too wonderful for me, our chief vicar – I am not sure of the terminology when it comes to C of E team ministry  – spoke very well on Sunday about worry. He quoted, among other things, Psalm 131 which talks about

I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.

I’ll be honest, this used to do my head in a bit when I was young and luscious and rebellious. It always sounded a bit “There, there little girl, don’t bother your pretty head with the big complicated , manly things.” I suspect it probably says more about the church that I attended rather than the way God saw things.

However – Chief Vic talked about us mentally grabbing back the things that God – being God – was better at looking after and then worrying about things that we were never meant to be dealing with anyway because we are just people; loved and precious people but people nevertheless. And I thought “yes”. There are things I am not meant to be taking on. I can pray but God makes things happen or decides on outcomes which, surely if I trust him and the idea that he is quite keen on me, should be the best outcomes.

The verse is better for me in the Message

God, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
    I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
    or fantasised grandiose plans.

It did me a bit of good on Sunday. When I asked HOH if he had enjoyed it, he said he had been too distracted with some thing he had been worried about and the sermon had got past him a bit. I think – Mes Braves – that there is a lesson there as well but I won’t spout the flamin’ obvious at you.

In other news, my Christian lady magazine has had a bit of a re-jig, which is nice. It’s all glossy now etc. I really am very fond of Woman Alive. It has good columnists, articles about normal Christian women and is sometimes more controversial than you would expect a magazine with lots of ladies wearing Christian type bobby-hats to be. It also manages to appeal both to me and also to Aged Parent who devours it and that is no mean feat as anything not delving in to deep exposition of Numbers can be considered a bit of a waste of time as far as she is concerned. If you want to have a look, you can go to the website and I think they will send you a free one. The one thing I’m not so keen on is the name of the thing. “Woman Alive” What does that even mean? “Woman Not Dead.” “Man Alive.” “Snakes Alive.” “Snakes on a Plane” It’s just bobbins nonsense words. Makes me think of us all sitting on bean bags singing “Bind Us Together.” Happy days then but maybe not really for now. It’s probably just me. I’m probably only jealous because I’m not in it.


Blimey, 2018 fairly flew by. Advent already? Well no – as I may have shared with you already, parts of Christmas were either a blur or nonexistent due to me being sick of the palsy. So, my spiritual and deep plan to bring you spiritual and deep thoughts from my advent book were scuppered I’m afraid. However, the book I have been reading was full of good stuff and, because I can read again without the whole room spinning, I decided to go back to it. This is not as arduous as it might seem. It’s not like watching Muppets Christmas Carol in June. (Which I have NEVER done – possibly) The book – Advent for Everyone by Tom Wright – is not exactly packed to the drawstrings with shepherds and camels etc. I think it is just meant to be thoughtful before Christmas or maybe make us more thoughtful or maybe something else equally laudable.

Anyway, I just kept thinking about this.

1 Corinthians 1

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong

Tom Wright says

” ‘But God’…Those are some of God’s favourite words. He often describes a human situation or problem and then takes delight in showing that God has stepped in and done something to change it drastically.”

I spent some time thinking about times when things had seemed hopeless or I had seemed particularly helpless and there was no way forward but God. And God did it – came through, changed things, did God type things.  How many times had I been on the receiving end of a but God? There’s plenty there if I put my mind to it. And, (stay with me here) if God never changes then it follows that he is as willing as ever to but God any current things that are happening. Things that look impossible often ARE impossible but I should never be without hope because God can still step in. He still does the things I cannot. If I am missing out maybe it’s because I don’t ask, don’t seek. God is maybe working, doing his thing in his own sweet godly way and I have maybe grown weary of finding out what that is. Maybe I have forgotten that he can change things. It is a challenge to me, I tell you. I expect you lot are further on this road than I am but I think I need to be a bit more expecty. I am thinking that this may be my word for the year. “EXPECTY” Learning to be an expecty kind of person when it comes to God. (Yes, I know, I know. Ask me how bothered I am and there are no rules in this that say it has to be a REAL word). Expecty. That will be me. (Now need to go and argue with the spell checker). Blessings abound eh?


Well that was a bit of a disaster. Christmas I mean. Apologies for my absence and thank you if you noticed but it was unavoidable. It is only a short blog to get me back on track and, hopefully normal service will be resumed asap. For once, I was Christmas organised and all seemed to be under control, then in the middle of the night, came the almost forgotten refrain of a child chucking up. And, as any mother knows, the fact that the child is in his mid-twenties and six foot five makes no difference at all. As the parent you need to stand by the bathroom door and, show some sympathy. After some stern questioning about the amount of alcohol that FOW1 had consumed (none – he had been at work) we decided it was a dodgy chicken strip. I did, however, stop and think at one point that if it was a bug I was a bit too close to where the action was. Still, I returned to bed, only to be woken again by FOW1 making that awful noise again and then complaining that in trying to do an emergency chuck up into his waste paper basket – he had missed and done it all over his Christmas wrapping paper. It was a long night.

Christmas Day wouldn’t have been so bad – FOW1 recovered enough to put away a Christmas Dinner and but for Aged Parent having a small but significant emotional melt-down (maybe more about this at another time) we were ok. However, I was woken in the night by someone making a familiar sort of throaty noise and realised that it was me. Arrrgh! Very sick. Stayed in bed all next day and night and was unaware that FOW2 had woken in middle of next night feeling – well you know – and texted her brother for support as she didn’t want to disturb us. FOW1 kept in touch with her from the next room, by text only in order to show support but not get any closer than was strictly necessary which was something that I wish I had thought of earlier.

While all this was going on HOH had been coughing for England for two days and the announced that he felt queasy. At this point, I suspected that my ambition of having a Christmas like the ones from the Andy Williams Christmas Show was not going to come to fruition this year. Did anyone ever see that film – The Lost Weekend? Well, we had a lost week between Christmas and New Year, we had to throw loads of food away which I hate and now everyone is back at work and decorations are down and that was that. I lost five pounds but, as we all know, weight lost when you are ill always comes back so there is NO silver lining in that cloud. Anyway, I hope you had a lovely time, because it’s not all about me I suppose.

BTW, When we went to pick up Aged Parent on Christmas Eve she was watching Oklahoma! “When I saw this at the pictures, your father proposed to me at the end. Still, never mind it was a lovely film so it wasn’t a wasted evening.”


Please forgive the title – I have spent the evening binge watching Morecambe and Wise. This blog post is a bit like its author – there’s not really much point to it and it witters on a bit, but I just wanted to call in and say hello. As I believe I may have mentioned, I have been a little over-committed this week considering it is the week before Christmas. It has all been worth it I think, although I am feeling a little bit worse for wear now. I am now making lists for England and trying to get organised.

I did the final carol service of the season but was a bit miffed because we only just about got in because it was absolutely packed out. I spent a few minutes moaning because these people never come near the place for the rest of the year and you light a few candles and they come from all over the place and I get shoved to the back. FOW 2 then pointed out – some might say quite reasonably – that this point of view was diametrically opposed to everything that Jesus taught. I hurrumped under my scarf for a bit but Hark the Herald Angels was amazing and we also did While Shepherds Watched to the tune of “O for a thousand tongues to sing” which I decided I wouldn’t like until we sung it and it worked beautifully.

We also went to the local pantomime. I’m often not keen on the corporate stuff that gets served up at this time of year. It’s usually by people who have no interest or knowledge of the local area or panto actually. We normally get someone from Eastenders and a man  who came third on Britain’s Got Talent. The one we went to was written and performed by a local theatre company Le Navet Bete who are experts in physical comedy. It was excellent. They performed A Christmas Carol – four men playing all the parts. Audience participation was essential so I had booked seats on the back row, knowing how my trusty companions would feel about that. Even so – when I showed some interest in getting up to see if I had won any mince pies – I was hissed at (by people I know and love mind you) and told in no uncertain terms to sit down. The panto itself was excellent. I love a Christmas Carol which, as you probably know, is a searing indictment of the greed and self-centredness of this life and a Christmas themed advert for generosity of spirit and deed. I particularly enjoy this genius social commentary when it is delivered by a man on a unicycle, hitting a man in drag in the face with a tin tray. Happy times indeed Mr Fezziwig.

We didn’t go to see The Princess Bride – too little time. HOH and I went to see The Florida Project which is definitely NOT a Christmas movie. It’s about some children who live with their families and dire circumstances on the edge of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. They see tourists come and go every day while they try to scrape a living together and survive. Even so the children, who are running wild all through the holidays, live a kind of happy and carefree life, unaware of how close to peril and poverty they are. It’s an uncomfortable film but important and kind of beautiful sometimes.

We also didn’t bother with It’s a Wonderful Life which has been re-released. I have a few problems with this film. (Care – spoilers) It’s very bleak for most of it and the Jimmy Stewart character really gets on my nerves. Also the baddie? No comeuppance at all? He just kind of falls off the end of the story. There I’ve said it. Report me to the Christmas Police if you want. I don’t care.

Lastly, of course, we went to see the Star Wars. I thought it was excellent. A bit too long – it could have easily lost 20 mins but some of it was so visually beautiful and Mark Hamill got the part he has always deserved in the series. I thought he was fantastic. I did cry once, towards the end, people who have been will probably know where, no spoilers but those of us who have grown up with these films will have surely watched this conversation with something in their eyes. The death of Carrie Fisher also gave some of the scenes huge poignancy.

Just a little thought before I go. I don’t know if you have seen but a lot of cultural activists have been on Social Media giving the charity record “Do they know it’s Christmas” a bad time. They are saying that it is insulting to black people and Africa and that it perpetuates the idea of white people coming as rescuers etc etc. I mean this may all be true but all I can say is, that I remember when it came out and the intentions were really good. We saw terrible news reports and we wanted to help. We bought a record a lot of us weren’t that keen on because we wanted to do something. I dunno.

Right Mes Braves. Onward then. Big decisions to be wrestled with. Should I buy the Radio Times at £28 or whatever it is. Will it still be Christmas without circling programmes I want to see? Not sure. I’ll get back to you.

For those who don’t know (despite my persistent flat Northern vowels, which I have no inclination to change) I live in Plymouth. A few years ago I used to work for the council and was blessed enough to be able to walk to the seafront in my lunch hour. One day, I was wandering towards the Hoe with some workmates, eating sausage and chips (child’s portion – I’m not an animal) when we were approached by a small but determined group of Australian tourists.

“Excuse me – can you tell me where Drake’s Statue is?”

Now for those that don’t know, there is a rather magnificent statue of Sir Francis Drake on the Hoe looking out to sea, keeping an eye out for the Spanish Armada before he went out to give them a jolly good rubbishing on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and all that is good in the world etc.

“Yes, we really want to see the statue and the bowling green where he finished a game of bowls before going out to beat the Armada because he was so confident of the win.”

So we all smile benignly, because these people don’t need to know that the Armada, already weakened by the weather, probably didn’t get to the sound – attacking further up the coast and that the bowling green story has no contemporary source (Although, there is a bowling green there so who knows?) Still we point the nice people in the right direction and wish them a nice day until one or group shouts after them

“Course you know it’s all gold-plated b******s don’t you” (Sorry)

Maybe it’s because you don’t appreciate heroes in your own land or maybe it’s because of his dealings in piracy and a dodgy execution of one of his men but Drake doesn’t always have the same impact here as he maybe does in other places. (I’m not sure that it helped calling the shopping centre after him either) But, in my advent book this week Tom Wright quoted a prayer by Drake (which actually probably isn’t by Drake but let’s not get into that again)

O Lord God,
when thou givest to thy servants
to endeavour any great matter,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning,
but the continuing of the same unto the end,
until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory;
through him who for the finishing of thy work
laid down his life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

— after Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596)

Wright has been examining patience this week which I wasn’t looking forward to, as it is an alien land to me. Yet I was impressed by the idea that patience and faith in God could be expressed not just in a passive, “waiting for God to rescue” kind of vibe but by continuing the work you were given to do, by finishing what you started and by carrying on what you are doing. And, as we continue to keep on keeping on in our lives, we are developing a kind of patience. We wait for God to intervene, to bless, to bring wisdom to our situations. We wait but we carry on.

I don’t think I ever thought of this as a kind of patience but it is isn’t it? To wait for God to intervene in your situation yet still doing the things that go into living – still serving, still working, still continuing to be where you feel he has put you – without running amok and demanding that God deal with your stuff NOW otherwise you are going to fold your arms and let someone else get on with it.

The thing about this is that you also have to have faith that God has not forgotten, that he is not taken up with the noisier guys and that your patience has been spotted which is also quite difficult. But (to go a bit Christmassy) I think about Elizabeth, knocking on a bit, faithfully with her husband Zechariah who served in the temple. Keeping on with the job they had been given, yet never forgotten

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.— Luke 1:13–15

“A joy and a delight” Lovely. Working patience. Never unnoticed by God. Keeping going with what we have been given to do while we wait.
Part of A Pause in Advent #3. Go and have a read