In the words of the group Pilot in their 1975 song “January” – can I say – “January, sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me.” (Or something similar. I’m not sure, I never liked it.) Still you get the idea. Will this month never end?

Before I get into full rant/catch up mode, can I just say thank you to those who shared similar experiences about the care of elderly parents. It has been truly life changing – no really – for once I am not exaggerating. To hear that others have guilt and exhaustion and also that, it ain’t necessarily so, all this “well it certainly is your total burden!” vibe. It has really helped. Thanks again.

I have done very little this month apart from get though it. I am afraid I have not been able to “claim the victory” hardly at all. Unless by “claiming the victory” you mean not going insane. It’s long isn’t it January? We got paid early in December so payday is not with us yet. I managed to be quite frugal for a couple of weeks but now would like some new mascara. I seem to be regaining the weight that I lost during the unfortunate sickness events over Christmas, as I believe I predicted. (Probably quite a lot to do with Walnut Whips)

We have had a few visits to hospital with Aged Parent so we have been in the eye of the storm NHS wise. For what its worth, I think these nurse and doctor and admin type heroes deserve lots more money for themselves and lots more money invested in the work that they do. The NHS is certainly chronically underfunded as any fule kno. Couple of leeetle things to point out though. Firstly, I do think the admin/management probably does need a shake up. The appointment system in a couple of departments we have been to is the most bobbins thing I have ever seen and, to be frank, would not be tolerated anywhere else. Also, I know that NHS staff are really under pressure and I love them like they are my own. In fact one of them is my own dear HOH and know how hard he works. It’s just that sometimes, some NHS staff act as if they are the only busy people in the world. Know what I mean?  I know it’s difficult but is it really necessary for you to bite my head off in three different languages because I have called to check Aged Parent’s appointment time? Ask yourself, did it make you feel good? And, in return, I then felt I needed to put you right on a couple of things because, as I say, you are not the only person under pressure and so neither of us felt good by the end of the call did we? Hmm.

I managed to drag my miserable personage to the pictures though and I would just like to highly recommend “The Post” It’s a sort of prequel to “All the President’s Men” and it is about what happened when the US government tried to stop the newspapers printing details of reports that proved that successive US governments had been lying about the Vietnam War. It’s very tense (even though I knew the end) and beautifully played. Meryl Streep is excellent as the newspaper owner – initially cowed by the sexism she encounters but gradually finding her voice. Spielberg produced a brilliant scene where she walks into a room full of men in dark suits and is completely intimidated. Streep plays it perfectly and you see her grow in front of your eyes. I think sometimes, because it’s the Meryl Streep, we take her for granted. She has had an Oscar nomination but the smart money is possibly on Sally Hawkins who plays a woman who sleeps with a sea monster. (Look, don’t ask me. I don’t write ’em. It might be good)

So keep going. My plan is early nights, books, the occasional candle, The Crown, Darkest Hour, Alternating Double Deckers and Twirls and the odd medicinal whisky. T’will all be fine and don’t forget your brolly.

 

It may be the time of year but I am developing an unhealthy addiction to TED talks. If you are unaware of the existence of TED Talks, they are a non profit that shares ideas in little videos on the You-Tube. The talks seem to range from eminently sensible and helpful to completely preposterous. S’up to you which ones you watch. I can usually judge my mood and the quality of my life at this moment by the Ted Talks I have watched. This morning, the dog decided that 5am was a perfectly serviceable time to get up so, as it was my turn, I took one for the team and settled down with him on the settee. (I would just like to throw a question to Morecambe about yesterday, which was pre-agreed as HOH’s turn – Why was 8.35 the time that Morecambe decided that he would like some company? THREE HOURS LATER?And why 5am for me? That dog has favourites)

This morning I watched talks on “Getting unstuck in your life.”, “Function forward through depression.” and “How to not feel that everything is pointless” (I can feel that things are very bleak when I am only on four and a half hours’ sleep)

I’m just putting something out there about prayer which, I think, is the recommended solution for getting unstuck in life; at least for those of us of a Christian type persuasion. I don’t know if you have found this but I am hoping it is true. Have you prayed for something to become unstuck – something really tough to deal with and found that when things started to change – they became much worse? Is it just me? Without too much detail – not mine to share and all that – we have an elderly relative (cough) who can be quite high maintenance and, as Billy Crystal says – she is the worst kind of high maintenance because she thinks she is low maintenance.  We have prayed about it for a long time now, and over Christmas, the whole thing changed – it got spectacularly worse. Anyone who has cared for an elderly person can probably have a stab at the kinds of things we are talking about. Like most people, I have multiple strands of things I would really like to see God intervene in and sometimes the hoped for solution just crumbles in my hand.

I wonder if things have to sometimes be shaken and loosened to allow change and growth. When I was a young lass, we used to have an Belfast sink in the back garden. The idea was that one day we would plant up various lovely bulbs in it and be groovy. In the olden days, we would get cold winters and the water would freeze over. It would be rock solid until you hit it with something, then it would shatter and you could see all the water underneath. It was messy but I could pick out all the ice and clear things out. (When you are eight – these kinds of things are very important) People sometimes have a saying that things have to get worse before they get better. (Aged Parent has her own version of this – Things have to get worse.) So I wonder if God sometimes stirs the water before he stills it. Do things have to shaken hard before they get sorted. So  you/I are panicking because after praying, you sometimes wonder if you should have bothered. I wonder if Mary and Martha – were entirely certain that putting all that trust in Jesus when their brother was so ill – rather than leeches or  wet fish poultices are whatever – was entirely wise. Because he delayed and delayed and things got worse.They got about as bad as they can get because Lazarus died. We are all cocky about the miracle now because we know the ending – they didn’t know. They knew Jesus could do stuff – “If you had been here he wouldn’t have died” They didn’t know quite what he could do and they could only find out because of how much worse it got.

It’s a waiting game I am finding. A keeping pushing God kind of thing. An “expecty” despite appearances thing. I’m praying for the grace to keep pushing till he sorts it.

 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.”