The first quarter

As I sit here listening to gentle music and seeing the last bit of the sun setting on the hottest April day in 70 years and it also being the 108th day in the year, I’m reflecting on this first quarter of the year, which has been eventful, as on my previous reflections there have been ups and downs, but what has struck me about this quarter is of what I’ve learnt and what also what I’ve been reminded of,

What I’ve learnt..

Some of the things we learn are not from the most pleasant of things but are worth mentioning and this is what I’ll start with

1   About  loss

Not too long ago someone I knew from the age of 8 died from an illness.  The relationship I had with this person wasn’t always good, although there was a period where we weren’t at odds our relationship did not end on good terms, that saddened me, for in spite of their faults, I didn’t dislike them and I didn’t hold any ill will over our last contact.  Whilst others can mourn freely I can’t in the same way for the same reasons, I can’t shout their praise from the hilltops but neither do I want to tear strips off their life or pretend I was their best friend.  So my learning was to to how to navigate this loss, respecting others memories of this person but also allowing my own experiences of them to surface privately yet freely.  The other the thing that struck me was that knowing that I’m not immortal is one thing but being reminded that someone you’ve known a long time is not immortal either and this is something I have to remember.

2     Dealing with Danger

I recently found myself in a dangerous situation, the details of which I won’t go into for all sorts of reasons.  The thing I learnt about myself in that position is how my resilience kicked in  and even though at one point I knew I had no control about what would happen next, I still had control inwardly and how I responded to what was taking place and was surprised at my clarity of thinking and decision making processes were and in spite of the situation how very little emotion reaction at the time.

3   War and Peace

Read a book called Cross vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus makes sense of Old Testament Violence by Gregory A. Boyd.  It was mostly a really a good book, it made me think over my non pacifist position, see my blog post called War and Peace. It hasn’t made me a 100% pacifist but certainly explains alot of the reasons in the way I can relate to for the reasons for the violence, and one great thing was he doesn’t blame God.  I learnt a great deal about some beliefs around the times of writing the old testament and it was a very well researched book. You’ll just have to read the book to find out more.  The timing was pretty apt with just last week or two of more raids from the British and US forces on Syria, the more I know about the situation the less I want to hear, just because of the possible propaganda/misinformation surrounding it all and the fact again we might be at war based on lies.  What I have learnt history certainly teaches us much about war and governments seeming to do more to go to war rather than to prevent it from happening.

4     When not to use the word “You”

I attended a marriage/relationship seminar for a day and one thing I learnt was in a conflict situation not to use the word “You” as it is often used in terms of accusations which causes people to be defensive, very useful, instead  say when this happens…or I heard …. being said.

Now to the lighter moments

5   To say Yes to invitations and opportunities

Life is to be lived to the full and that means not saying no to opportunities or invites and that’s what I’ve been doing this year, I met up with people I’d never met before through social media which was a wonderful adventure, invited to meetings and day conferences, now attend a book club run by one of our church leaders and possibly attending a bible course in September.  Saying no means closing the door on experiences whether they be good or bad, for me the only reason to say no now is either I just can’t do something as it clashes or I have a strong sense not to do it.  Otherwise any door that’s open I’ll walk through it.

Reminded of…

6  Being ordinary

Being comfortable with being just an ordinary human being, merging with the rest of the world and how freeing that is,  not having to keep up with the somebody people think you are or might be or you might want to be.  That doesn’t mean we humans are not valuable or having nothing to offer the world at large, its just accepting your ordinary and normal and that really is OK, you don’t have to be somebody to make a difference, and that was my lesson

7   Simple fun

Being reminded that fun doesn’t have to be complicated gave me a great deal of pleasure.  In January I purchased a google home.  On this device I discovered a quiz which I played on my own but you can also play with others.  So on an evening in March two of my nieces and I played the quiz together, the game gives us nicknames to play which made us all laugh for some reason I was mushroom for some strange reason it reminded me of my childhood with pictures of red toadstools with white spots on.  I loved the fact my nieces really enjoyed the quiz which happened completely by accident, simple and spontaneous fun make people happy.

8    A change is as good as a rest

In March I attended an interview for a job which unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending for a couple of weeks it certainly got me down and it was a job I felt I really wanted too.  One Friday one of my friends invited me to an impromptu drive to Sheffield with another mutual friend to visit family.  It was beautiful scenery with all weathers and good company.  I came home feeling a ton better and is if everything had completely changed  certainly  a reminder to me if I’m really down to just do something completely different or go somewhere on the spur and I’ll feel alot better.

Certainly these last 16 weeks have been intense at times, but I’ve also had time to be creative with another poem or two and another attempt at songwriting and more flapjack making.  I could add more but as I need to be up at 5:30am I need to finish.

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Reflections on 2017

As I look back over 2017, I consider it to have been a fairly good year.  Certainly there have been highs and lows, the old and the new, but a good year I feel overall.

January

The year started with frustrating roadworks and and some annoying financial matter to sort out which resulted in me having to venture out at silly o’clock to get it sorted out.  Happily by April that matter was addressed and so were the road works.

February

Doris blew herself out in February as well as me finishing a few books that I’d not finished reading.

March

A quiet one, nothing that I can really recall, apart from me inadvertently scaring one of my neighbours visitors coming out of the house.

April

April saw me preparing for my friends wedding which meant spending some money, a friend took me out shopping, she was very helpful and got the gear together for the wedding which was beautiful.  Baked some oaty biscuits for the wedding which went beautifully well.

May

Managed to wake up with an injured wrist in May but did recover eventually.  I think it was this month that I got reacquainted with some old friends, it’s wonderful when that happens.

June

General election time locally the result didn’t go the way I wanted it too but I also saw the bigger picture.  I also got a smart meter, no more untimely visits from meter readers. I hurt my knee but like my wrist did recover. I attended my eye appointment one month earlier than I should have done, well I had to laugh I am registered blind, not surprising  really. I met some new friends where cake seems to accompany my visits to their home.

July

In this month my cousin informed me and the family through social media I’m going to have a new cousin. A busy month with trips out with friends and a return to some stunning gardens I love locally.  At times pretty hot too. My eye clinic appointment was speedy, to the point I wondered if the specialist really cared.

August

This month heralded the start of my poetry writing stint.  Which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I attended a BBQ where I saw the most amazing sunset from the hosts home.

September

As mentioned in my previous blog  on my amazing summer.  I was with Mr and Mrs Bubble who re amazing hosts, I celebrated my birthday in quite sultry weather, it made a change from cloudy days.

October

More outings and meeting some new friends who I’ve regularly visited who’s company and food I’ve much enjoyed, laughter and music sharing were also highlights and many late nights.  The unusual red soon greeted me on the way out of my voluntary work which stopped many in their tracks to observe. I ended up with a chest infection that thankfully lasted fortnight but for others they have suffered alot longer.

November

Spent a day with friends who had married earlier in the year saw their home and enjoyed the baby shower I attended who’s baby is due in January.

December

My Christmas was spent with Mr and Mrs Bubble again, where my highlights were my own stocking, playing with their son’s new drone, delicious food, one meal consisted of a turkey curry followed by syrupy pancakes and of course I had some parmasan, a specialty in that part of the UK, laughter at my friend’s laryngitis laugh because of a joke her husband shared.

In summary

Now there’s  a few hours to go before midnight what can I conclude from my year, in my introduction I said there were some highs and lows. Well the highs being reconnecting with some old friends and making quite a number of new ones. The lows are a friend moving abroad although that’s a mixed blessing as I’ve been invited to see her, the death of someone I met in rather tragic circumstances, another friend who became seriously ill, but thankfully recovered.  The roadworks which will be returning again in the New year locally, some of my friends going through difficulties. but for me the good outweighs the low points, my amazing summer and feeling hopeful.  Spiritually I’ve deepened in my relationship with my heavenly Father, who has as always been with me through both the highs and the lows.  Finally I would like to thank (hopefully with these name change people will know who I’m referring to)  Mr and Mrs Bubble, Mr and Mrs PIndia and little Pea, Mr Windy B, Mr E Laurette, Mrs CT Midwife,  Mr P Drivencrazy, Mrs Truly,  Mr & Mrs JC One, Rev Greathinker. If I’ve forgotten anyone please don’t take it personally I can’t come up with names that easily , and thank you contrary readers for reading my posts 🙂  So as the New year draws to a close in a few short hours I wan’t to wish you all a very happy new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The role of sin in our lives, but there is good news!

I bet the headline of this  blog post has you anxious that I’m going to write a post about all the sins you’ve committed in your life and harp on about it and makes you want to either scroll on by or click the x at the top of the screen or close the app on your phone, please don’t as that’s not what I’m going to write about.

I’m sure many of you today have been chomping away on chocolate Easter eggs or something like that,  the closest thing I got was a mini egg on one of Easter nest cakes at church  and yes many of you may feel guilty for over eating and berating yourselves for eating too much and some may even think I’ve just sinned.  Many times the message of the cross is that Jesus died for our sins.  Many of those reading this already know what your sin is and the consequences but WHY is sin such a big deal it’s because of it’s role in our lives.

The role of sin

There are 3 roles to sin that are worth knowing about and even many Christians don’t see this either.

1 Sin causes us to think we are separated from God

Most people have heard sin separates you from God but the truth is that sin and the resulting guilt, shame and condemnation causes you to think you are separated from God.  God was has and is always with his creation, he is not separate from it at all, when Adam sinned in the garden Adam hid himself FROM God, God was still present, when God called where are you Adam,  it wasn’t because God couldn’t see him he knew where he was but he wanted Adam to know he was there and very present indeed.  It was sin that convinced Adam to run from God and that there was a veil there between them.  When Jesus died he cried out “my god, my God, why have you forsaken me” he cried that out when he became sin, sin caused him to think that, he was God in the flesh after all there was no separation, at that point on the cross he knew what sin causes us to believe in our separation from God.

 

2 Sin causes us to believe the worst about God

There seems alot of folk who have real misconceptions about God. That he is distant, angry and one favorite expression of mine the unmoved mover.  He’s ready to whip,  beat and catch us doing wrong at any time and ready to throw judgement at us, nothing could be further from the truth, first of all Jesus told his disciples to call God Our Father.  A real good father is not remote or ready to lash out at you whenever you do wrong.  God is the best Father and wants everyone on this planet to relate to him in that manner, sin and will tell you otherwise. the Father that does not want you to be anxious for anything to provide for and love you though thick and thin and allows you to make your own choices and trusts you like any Good father does  and wants you to come to him freely. Sin will rob you of that notion believing the very opposite.

3  Sin causes you to think that there is absolutely nothing good about you as well as God.

Yep when God created  man (man and woman) he declared it was very good and not  just that he created man in his image and likeness, we are like God, we are not God but like him, just like when you look at a family member and see your eyes, or you hear them say something a certain way you think I’d say it like that.  They aren’t you but look and sound like you.  We are like God in that we look and sound like God and portray his nature in different ways.  The serpent in the Garden like sin convinces us we are not like God and we are dark humans walking the planet and there is nothing good about us.

The good news

The good news is Jesus when he died on the cross he wanted us to know three things

1 We are not separated from God,

2 Our Father  is love personified and is not mad at us at all rather he is mad at sin and it’s destructive nature in our lives and it’s purpose, putting distance between us and his love.

3  You are good, very good, he created you and is much good in you, your sin is masking that reality of your true nature.

For any reading this your wandering I get this but now what must I do,

Talk to Father God, he loves you he knows you intimately, you don’t have to do it in a religious fashion just be yourself, he loves you like that.  Ask him to remove the veil between you in your thinking and in your heart towards him.  Tell him what you think of him and that you need help in having a revelation of who he is, ask him to come alive to you on the inside and simply be open to receive the revelation of love because Father God is love.

A very happy Easter to you all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A life to be thankful for

Today I attended a funeral of a couple who are friends of mine who’s 43 old son died last week, leaving a wife and four children.

I was more than happy to go as the mother of the son who had died had unexpectedly attended my mother’s funeral just a few years ago, and It had meant a lot to me that she had been, and she and her husband had been such a support to me since that time.  I generally prefer funerals to weddings, not because I like people dying but because your presence alone means a great deal to those suffering around you, whereas at a wedding I’ve often felt just a casual observer.

I was rather surprised to be affected by this funeral, as I’ve attended quite a few this has been one that affected me the most apart from family members of course.  I didn’t know this couple’s son very well, but I couldn’t help being moved by first looking at the order of service and seeing the man who I will call John looking radiantly happy with his wife, that happiness cut short, and then the picture at the back of the four children left behind, also seeing John’s father walk in with his arm protectively around his wife following his sons coffin beautifully decorated with photographs, which must have been an ordeal for them followed by the large family impacted by John’s death. I couldn’t help the large amount of tears in my eyes.

At the same time there were some moments which were funny, with my kind of humour I couldn’t help noticing someone nearly trip over part of the pew that’s used to kneel on, later on navigating a song that either didn’t have the correct words printed  or the organist got the wrong music, whichever thankfully  there were quite a number of voices got round that particular mistake well.  It’s usually me who gives people laughs at funerals, at my nan’s funeral I was sharing a car with my cousin and it was thundering and lightening, I said to my cousins, well at least she went off with a bang, which made them both laugh. my eldest cousin said “only you could get away with saying that”.  At my mums internment it had been snowing heavily getting round the tombstones was rather difficult I climbed over a large mound of snow only to discover I was clambering over a tombstone which made my nieces laugh.

Towards the end of the funeral the father gave an overview of his son’s life.  I sat there thinking about the fact John was only a year younger than me he had a wife and children I hadn’t and he was more worthy of living than I was, but after hearing his euology, about his love of sport, that he travelled extensively, studied at university, travelled again, and settled down with is wife and became provider of his four children, I got the impression he loved life and lived it to the full.  I came to the conclusion that although his life was short he had achieved a great deal most importantly loving his family. Although this is a deep loss to his family and friends no one can say he hadn’t lived his life to the full, and after all isn’t that the purpose of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing my way

I haven’t written a blog for a while here’s why, I feel lost, well more accurately I’ve lost my way.

I had one of those weeks last week where I felt let down and blocked at any progress I was trying to make.  So I come to a full stop.  How do I proceed and where the hell am I going?

As a child I would get lost, who wouldn’t, my solution find an adult or more accurately I would have lost an adult and try to proceed finding them, it would result of tapping someone on the shoulder or shouting Dad or mum at somebody only discover it was someone else, embarrassing.  Sometimes I’d be looking for a vehicle only to get into the wrong car that would look very similar, that’s happened to me about three times.  I’ve lost my reading glasses a million times or more I’m sure.

In times past I felt I’d lost my faith born out of dryness, disappointment or doubt, the truth there is God knew about the feeling of being lost when he shared the parable about the woman who had lost the coin, the interesting thing about the other two parables and that one is that the people had lost something that belonged to them, something that was already in their possession I’ll let folks think about that one.

The thing is I’ve lost my way, my direction in life, but I’ve not only lost my way or direction, I’ve lost my destination, what is my destination? Is it true that having lost my way I’ve lost my destination?

Destination determines something way off in the future, as human beings we are programmed to think ahead, destination determines outcome or achievement.  That notion of achievement is thought provoking,  should achievement be the end game of everything we do?

My problem has always been I may have a destination but my strategy in getting there is poor, I’m not really a strategist, it’s not really my strong point.  In some situations your destination can seem like an agenda and not a good one.  How many of us for instance in order to arrive at our destination we try and manipulate people or circumstances in order to arrive at the most beneficial outcome to us?   We may not be the only ones on that particular course of direction or destination.  Athletes compete in a race for the prize  they are heading the same way, their approach and strategy determines who wins, but it also determines who loses.  Is life about winning and losing, or rather should life be about winning or losing?

Believe me I’ve thought a lot about some of the things I’ve wanted to do, my motives for doing them are they pure, justifiable.  My search for work is difficult because I’m not the only one wanting work, so do many others, Is it arrogant to think I could be better than someone else to do a job?  To be fair having a dual disability means I’m further down the food chain of desirables from an employers perspective as being the best choice.

For all the advice people give me in my life, there are no simple answers.  and my problems can’t just be fixed.  There’s nothing worse coming away from a conversation feeling as though that person has it all worked out and you feeling as though you don’t measure up to those standards they are inadvertently setting.  To be fair I’ve done it too , come up with solutions for people when it’s not what they need at that time, when they have lost their way, or they don’t know what to do, in those circumstances all people need is empathy,  a listening ear and most of all encouragement, not solutions, pat answers or questioning.

In the meantime what do I do?  Well the only answer I have right now is rest, I don’t mean do nothing but not strive for answers, let go of trying to come up with solutions that are depressing which a lot of them are.  Just let go of trying  to work it all out.

I have to trust that somehow, somewhere or someone, will bring some light into my pathway, so I can move forward.  In the meantime I stay lost.

Letting Go

I was sitting on a train home following a visit to my friends and I thought I saw someone I knew, only from behind, I kept wondering is it them or not, my curiosity was really strong, I was thinking I wish they would turn round then I would know for sure, I wouldn’t want the embarrassment of mistaken identity which is a common thing with Vi’s.  But it got me thinking laterally about other things. my plans and dreams, I knew that I’ve got work to do once I returned home in relation to those things, but I found myself thinking  specifically about the need to let go.  Letting go of the fact that some of my dreams and plans may not come to fruition.  The application form for a course I want to attend I may not be accepted on, this blog may not flourish, the new fb group I’ve created may not gain the momentum I want it too, my current voluntary work may not lead to anything more than it is, therefore it was time to let go.  Also time to let go of not being able to be the kind of friend I want to be to some people, to let go of my expectations of others, of not being the most charismatic individual around.  The list goes on.

Of course I’ve had to let go in the past sometimes I’ve been in no other position but to do so, the death of my mum in 2012, my job when in 2013 the company I worked for went bust.  Believe me those were painful experiences.  But this time on the train I felt these were just clear choices.  The thought was in my mind does it really matter if these things never come to fruition or bear fruit.  So what if I don’t get accepted on the course I want to do would it really be the end of the world?  What about the relationships I have with those around me and my expectations or theirs is it such a big deal?  The fact that I don’t always feel valued and understood by those around me is it really necessary that I need to explain or make myself understood and be valued?

Strangely I felt a smile spread across my face at the thought of letting go, because letting go can mean letting other good things in, there are no limits, we often think our options are limited if we let go,  our fears are that if we let go nothing else will come in its place, hmmm.  Does this mean I should not do what I can to make things work such as this blog and the rest, of course not, my passion for the things I have in the pipeline are still valuable, but passion fuels me to do what I do but it doesn’t rule me.  So I’m  left with a sense of peace about my future after all often we are afraid of the future and what it entails.  I can still make effort with my relationships with the people around me without allowing what I think they need from me to control me.

I rather see my life being like a tree, a tree cannot grow new leaves without shedding some dead ones, but in the place of those leaves new shoots of life replace the dead leaves.  In other words my life has stuff that’s not right  or good in it those things get shaken off and new things or better things come in their place.  I just have to trust that when things die or don’t work out new green shoots will form and grow and produce life and if things don’t work out it means better things are ahead or adaptations need to take place.   Another analogy is the passage where Jesus talks about the seed that has to fall into the ground and die before it bears fruit.  In my case I’ve seen that happen.

In Feb 2000 I got offered an opportunity to do some work for a company I wanted to work for, but it came to nothing, my then pastor mentioned that scripture I mentioned above  that was already confirmation to me, I let it go.  Nine months later I got offered a job at that same company and stayed there for 13 years.  So letting go can be a good thing and it brings peace.

Ok so back to my original  starting point.  So now you maybe wondering did I get to find out if who I saw on the train was the person I thought it was?   Well when the  train finally pulled into my final destination , the assistant met me just at the door of the train, he walked me to the bus stop where I could wait for my bus.  I’d been standing there for a few seconds then I looked to my left, walking away from me was the assistant talking to the person who I thought I recognised on the train, unfortunately again it was from behind so I have no way of knowing whether the person I saw was who I thought it was, and it could have been a different person entirely to the person I saw on the train  so that will be a mystery to me and something I have let go of , so now you will have to let go of knowing who It was I thought I saw 🙂

The quote that got me thinking 

Late last night I do my favourite pastimes bath book and bed I call it BBB 🙂 Anyway I was finishing a book I’ve been reading called Gaining heaven’s perspective: A guide to hearing and seeing the voice of God by Julian C. Adams, something he said got me thinking.

God is more interested in your relationship with him than you waiting for his commands

What a quote, it sent me back to the time in a church I was in many years ago when there was much emphasis on obeying God’s commands, it rather reminded me that the person who used to say it the most saw God as a sergeant major.  I believe that the image of God we have determines what sort of relationship we have with him.  It reminds me of the passage in Matthew 25 from verse 14 about the different people been given possessions by their master how they viewed him caused them to respond in kind.  The man who was given just the one talent just hid it saying that his master was harsh the others used what had been entrusted to them and got more, knowing their master trusted them, each of the people responded according to what they believed the nature of the master was and what they believed about themselves.

For many Christians they see God as a harsh TASKmaster waiting for their next command instead of knowing God trusts them in using what they already have been given by him whether it’s their brain, finances, gifts or opportunities.  Interestingly the master was away for long time away from those people’s presence leaving them to make choices without interference, he trusted them.  Also when the master returned he was pleased with how those people used those talents, they showed him, he was proud of them, God is proud of you. enjoys your gifts and talents.

In conclusion I would say God is not a harsh taskmaster issuing commands rather he is a loving father who gives to us and enjoys what we do with what he puts in our hands, the result will be based in what we believe about him, if we believe he is good, kind and loving there will be fruit, if not then their will only be mistrust of the one who gave us the things entrusted to us.  That doesn’t mean the father won’t direct or guide us, he will if we need it and he will correct us if we go off track, but comes out of a position of trust.  People who are neither trusted or respected have to resort to commanding people to do things for them rather than if they are trusted people will naturally seek them out for direction or guidance.

To any reading this Father can be trusted, he loves, enjoys and celebrates you, he gives good gifts and trusts you, don’t be afraid to seek direction and guidance from him, but if he doesn’t answer your probably doing well he’s not into micro managing, he trusts you.  He will probably most likely encourage you to keep going.