God has wonderful promises for us as we travel on through life and into later years.The best news is that,inside we need never grow old because He has actually promised to renew our youth day by day.

Isaiah 40:31



Monday, 21 December 2015

Sunday Sunrise


My husband and I had spent Saturday visiting his eighty year old Mother, a very uncomfortable fifty minute journey there on a rattly bus and the same again at the end of the day.

My Mother in law stopped cooking after her last husband (don't ask!) died four years ago and eats out all the time instead or buys in 'ready meals' that go in the microwave...even the tea is instant. Her main topics of conversation being how much money she has managed to save and where her next cruise/holiday was going to be and when.

 So we knew we were in for a very long day as usual.

So Sunday morning, I woke up even earlier than usual, full of aches and pains so decided to take a walk with the dawn to clear my headache.

As you can see from the photo above, getting a full uninterrupted view of the sky is virtually impossible from the back yard which is why I do often go a-walking to enjoy the view....



Before I set off just after 8.0am.

The shortest day will soon be here with the Winter Solstice on Tuesday 22nd December and the days will slowly start getting longer...hooray...

From this view in my back yard I walk round the corner and onto the footpath by the side of the main road and get my first real view of the morning sky....


There used to be a large senior school on this site, demolished earlier this year all ready for a brand new housing estate to be built in the New Year...all those little boxes called 'starter homes' which have no garden space and very little space in between each house


The slight morning mist indicates just how unseasonally warm it has been this last week


"When Morning Gilds The Sky"....to quote a very ancient German hymn



...there is always a seagull perched somewhere.....



This is the car park of the College my grandaughter's attend.... not very glamourous I know, but I make the most of the views available!



Round another corner to start the walk home, still faint glimpses of the rising sun.


Back on the main road...home for my bowl of Porridge and a welcome pot of Green Tea.

For some reason my early morning walks are always taken before breakfast...no idea why!



All that is left is for me to wish you all a peaceful Christmastide and  best wishes for the coming year.



Pax et Bonum











Thursday, 10 December 2015

Rethinking the Nativity Scenario



My eldest daughter sent us this wooden Advent /Nativity scene at the beginning of November. 
Twenty four doors concealing twenty four Nativity 'characters'. 
There are twelve doors on each side and the stable on top turns round 
(a bit like one of those old fashioned 'lazy susan' rotating trays)

It is made of wood and rather heavy, thank goodness it came direct from Amazon and she didn't have to post it herself!


After we had unwrapped it and set it in pride of place on the sideboard we began to unwrap the many layers of bubble wrap to reveal all the 'characters' to put in the doors.

I automatically picked up the 'baby in a manger' figure to put in door number twenty four when  husband suddenly said 
that was 'not biblical'.......
.....this made me think!

He was right...the biblical nativity narrative begins with a stable at the inn where the animals are over wintering...so the animals went into the first doors.

Then along comes a donkey, with Mary and Joseph...so they went in next along with a fire  which is when I took this photograph. 

Just sorry that Mary and Joseph are extremely 'white, anglo saxon, protestants'. 

Would be nice to have 'ethnically correct' figures .

 The fire as you can see is rather out of proportion but looks very warm!


....next comes the baby Jesus in his manger....NOT on day twenty four.

Then we have angels and shepherds, and  next the Star that appeared to the Wise Men and finally along come the three Wise Men to complete the scene......

Can see why at the 'Crib Service' the baby in the manger is always put into the  scene last, but if you think about it......that order is all wrong according to my Bible!!!



Wednesday, 9 December 2015

'Wants not Needs'

Image result for matthew 11 28

One of today's Advent readings is Matthew 11:28-30  which got me thinking.......
It is safe to say that in today's consumerist and materialistic society there is confusion about what is needed for life and what is actually important.

In this run up to Christmas the vast majority of the shops  are selling wants  and not needs. 

What society now calls 'needs' were formerly 'wants' and these have moved to such a level of sophistication that now luxuries are "necessities" for many people in the western world.

The upwardly mobile in society cannot it seems, feel 'good' about themselves unless the holiday next year is to be more expensive and luxurious than the one taken this year, or unless the clothes in the wardrobe are regularly upgraded for the latest fashion, or unless the house is regularly redecorated or remodelled, and the latest technology bought as soon as it comes on the market regardless of coast.

People become  trapped and un-free; as if running on a perpetual hamster's wheel, 
Inherently unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

Meanwhile very little thought is given to the fact that most of God's people on this earth are homeless and starving.

God's people have learnt to find happiness and freedom at a much simpler level.

What Matthew's gospel is saying is that such simplicity is the only place that happiness is ever found in the first place.

The twenty first century materialistic  society  has made happiness and contentment largely impossible and has created a pseudo- happiness based on having instead of just being. A society so overstimulated that the ordinary no longer delights and people are so busy in their busy-ness that they cannot rest or abide in the presence of God, nor do they want to.

I realise that such a message is about as traditional, old fashioned and conservative a gospel message as can be shared but it will always be true. One that every generation needs to hear and believe anew. 
Particularly in this time and this culture of excess,

Society has become one of human doings more than human beings and the verb 'to rest' as Jesus uses it in this passage is largely foreign to most people. The very word 'rest' conjours up  the images of idleness and just 'doing nothing'.
Rest is not valued in this world of wants  and  must haves.

They don't know what they are missing

Monday, 30 November 2015

Unexpected kindness....




As you know from a previous post my husband has recently lost his job and we are having to face the coming weeks/months on drastically reduced finances.

This note dropped through our letterbox on Saturday, a cheque was enclosed that will cover the  Tesco  'christmas food shopping' order I had placed online for delivery on the 22nd...and then had to cancel because we wouldn't have the monies to pay for it.  As this year there are only going to be the two of us at home we were quite happy to 'make do' with whatever we had, which is a darn sight more than many have...and then this happened...a very unexpected kindness and a smaller order has been redone.

I was going to save the money and put towards future bills but husband said that we should use at least two thirds of it for our christmas shop

We are extremely grateful and humbled that there are still kind and caring folk out there in this 'dog eat dog' world.



Sunday, 22 November 2015

War Solves Nothing


Returning violence for violence  multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies– or else? The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”


The United Nations has unanimously adopted a sweeping anti-Isis resolution imploring the world to unite to defeat Isis. It called on member states to “redouble and coordinate their efforts” to prevent further terrorist horrors by the group and “eradicate” its safe havens straddling parts of Iraq and Syria.


War is never the answer, to anything, 
only the innocent will suffer as 'collateral damage'


Donald Trump wants a data base of all Muslims living in the USA...what next?
 Internment for all on that list? 


“The Pope has called Christmas a 'charade' during a sermon in which he reflected on recent atrocities around the world.Among the acts of inhumanity he denounced were the Paris attacks, which left 129 dead, and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt, which killed all 224 people on board. 

Christmas festivities will seem empty in a world which has chosen 'war and hate', 'Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes... it's all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path,' he said on Friday  during the Mass at the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

'There are wars today everywhere, and hate,' he said after the worst terror attack in French history, the bombing of the Russian plane, a double suicide bombing in Lebanon, and a series of other deadly strikes.

'We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognise the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it,' the Argentine pontiff said, adding: 'God weeps, Jesus weeps.'......

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Here we go again..........


As some of you know from much older posts my husband was made redundant on the 20th December 2013 after twenty three years with the same Company and the longest serving employee.

We cancelled Christmas altogether that year.

He started working in a new job September 2014 and now this small Company is struggling and is "letting go" one person from each department in a drastic cost cutting attempt to stay afloat.
As is the norm the "last in, first out" rule applies so as of 25th November 2015 my husband has no job, again.

Unlike last time though there is no redundancy pay off to pay the bills and to keep us sane as he has not worked there the statutory two years to qualify.
This is a great worry and until he has been to "sign on" for unemployment benefit we have no idea what funds we will have to manage on.

This time my husband is not so hopeful at finding further employment. He was so demoralised last time and in the employment climate here in the UK his age is against him. He is nearly forty six and  employers find that it is much cheaper to take on the under twenty fives who don't have to be paid so much as the over forty fives. We are going to call this "early retirement" instead and once again my whole day will have to  take on a new 'routine'

(For those who are new to this blog and are not aware...yes...my husband is younger than I am, by twenty years. We celebrated our Silver Wedding (twenty five years wed) this April.
I divorced an abusive partner in 1979 and have three children from that marriage)

So we have cancelled Christmas once again...actually there is nothing much to cancel as we were spending it alone for the first time as all the family have other plans, and I wrapped all the Christmas presents up ready for posting yesterday.

We will survive, God is in control and has a plan;
 and as always  we do wish He would tell us what it is!!


Sunday, 8 November 2015

"A Pilgrim's Progress"


How many of you have read this John Bunyan classic tale first publish in February 1678?

Not easy reading is it?
I struggled with it as a teenager, then as an adult, and listened to the audio book. It is not the allegories I have difficulty with but the actual language it is written in, very archaic and heavy going

Then a few years ago I came across this children's version in an Oxfam book shop.....


 Geraldine Mccaughrean tackles John Bunyan's classic tale with a charm and poise that successfully breathe life into the ancient chronicle of a young man called Christian as he undertakes the journey of a lifetime to the City of Gold.

Partnered by Jason Cockcroft, whose startling contemporary illustrations contrast with the age-old fable and bring an added poignancy to the story of a youth with a mission in life. The drama of the story is neatly drawn out gradually allowing the reader to conclude that Christian is not so different from latter day heroes after all.

 I found it much easier to understand and I loved it. And found it 
a  stunning and complex retelling of a classic story that is both comprehensive and remarkable as it brings a centuries-old yarn bang up to date for the thoroughly modern reader without losing any of the spirit of Bunyan's original work.

Then several months ago my daughter sent me this.......


Have just finished reading it for the second time and can highly recommend it.

This is a story of the journey of Pippa, a twenty first century pilgrim

Times have changed since John Bunyan wrote his classic Pilgrim’s Progress, telling of Pilgrim’s journey up Hill Difficult and through the Slough of Despond to the Celestial City. Yet people in their millions still seek meaning in their lives and speak of journeying towards a goal. Everyone on earth seeks a heaven. 

Simon Parke’s witty and insightful modern-day re-telling of Pilgrim’s Progress follows the original’s premise of a pilgrim’s journey to heaven, but this time through the trials and temptations of our secularised, multi-cultural society.With plenty of advice and direction, not all of it helpful from the likes of Glossy Mags, Shaw Thynge and Dee Straction. Pippa’s challenges along the way include the Rock of Subconscious, the Cliff of Hopelessness, the Fabulous Fame Game, the Sea of Identity and, of course the city of Socialmeja!!




Sunday, 1 November 2015

Flat Pack...

My local yarn shop carries only a small amount of basic yarn, and no sock yarn at all. So as my husband is in need of a pair of new socks in his customary shade of brown  I have to buy online.

This time I discovered that his brown of choice yarn has gone out of production so an alternative had to be ordered ...and this is how it arrived though the letter box....flat packed!
So a big thank you the 'The Happy Knitter' online shop for providing me with this blog post......enjoy


Friday, 30 October 2015

Lost in the Fog.....

Before I share another of my walks with you, would like to thank Gracie of  'One Saylor's Log' for the inspiration behind logging and blogging some of my walks.
Gracie's logs and blogs of her travels are far more adventurous than mine because of her location. I do encourage you to go and have a look at her web site, just for the glorious changing views of Mount Hood....

Right, before I start  must warn you that this post will be rather long!  Did try and cut some of the photos out but then it didn't make much sense at all and you wouldn't get a sense of my suburban/green fields environment....so shall we begin....

It is Tuesday 27th October at 9.30am when I set off, a rather damp and drizzly morning...

I am standing at the front gate looking down the street. The gate and gravelled front garden is the next door neighbour. All the houses are the same and attached in a blocks of six or eight. An alley way then goes down the side of the houses to give access to the back of our properties......


I have turned right and then right again at the bottom of our road and  am now out on to the busy main road walking up to a very busy crossroad and roundabout. It is rather misty.....



Turned right at the crossroad and approaching the  Pelican Crossing to get across the dual carriageway......see the green lights in the centre left..



Have crossed over the roads  and walking up a side road by houses towards the town boundary.
The 'double yellow lines' mean  "no parking at any time"...though often ignored!




Isn't this a glorious sight? Even in the damp and the increasing fog...



Am now at the town boundary where a large supermarket is situated to my right......you can just see it looming up out of the gloom. As I turn to my left ......


....this is where I am heading, down the lane and out into the fields and wood, visibility is poor and getting worse!!!


Had not expected the fog to be so heavy over the fields and it did rather spoil the surprise...sorry..



It did not make for comfortable walking at all, ...... my daughter would be a tad annoyed with me if she knew I was out here alone...but did have my phone with me....


You can just see the woods looming up out of the fog in the distance, decided that it would be best not to walk through the woods today...


The footpath I am on is actually the Bridle Path for the nearby stables and riding school, the horses have right of way over walkers. None about today!


Am finally nearing  the end of the footpath, straight down to the woods and turn left onto the road instead of straight through...glad to be nearing 'civilisation' once more. Perhaps it was not a good idea to come out walking  the fields, should have stayed on the pavements instead.


At last....stepping out onto the road that leads from the farm house just to my right out of the picture and up through the village and back onto the main road....



Isn't this a glorious sight? My church is just at the top of the lane here, to the right, just hidden by the trees. Will show you as I walk past....


Doesn't it look ethereal in the patch of sunlight?
Right....nearly home...follow the road round to the right and straight up past the few houses and  back over the town boundary again...


This is where we have been.....pity that the road signs are so close to the village sign, spoils the picture rather...

The traffic signs mean, cars can only travel at 20 miles per hour through the village and the sign underneath that means that it is a 'no through road'....it doesn't go anywhere, only to the houses.
Turn to my left to walk down the main road to the roundabout and here is this sign...


Great Grimsby has a chequered past and an uncertain future, and is much mocked by 'comedians' ...
Nearly home....


The busy crossroads where a large dual carriageway road meets two single carriageway roads and this huge roundabout.....


Nearly there, ....I now have to cross over two of these roads to get back to my street....


.....so I am going to put the camera away and concentrate on the traffic so I can get safely home to a very welcome cup of tea.

Do hope that you managed to get to the end and were not too bored by it all.




Monday, 26 October 2015

New Boots and Autumn Leaves


Have finally consigned my old and much loved walking boots to the bin, they were letting in water and not really practical for the wintry weather. So thought that I would share this morning's walk with you as I tried out my new boots.....

I love this time of year, all those fallen leaves to shuffle in. You are never too old to kick up the leaves.......unless you come across some one who has just spent a good hour sweeping them up into a neat pile; no matter how tempting that is!



For some reason  I like to walk  a route round  in a circle rather than  there and back.  So I set off from home on pavements  at the side of a very busy main road, then turn left at a junction of three main roads before turning left in to the nature reserve which follows the River Freshney, 


It never ceases to amaze me that  even though I live in the bustling suburbs of a busy town within a ten to fifteen minute walk I can be tramping along footpaths in woods, fields or this nature reserve.

There is a lake in the centre of the reserve, the reeds have become overgrown and  visibility is now limited. Soon they will have died down and all that will be above water will be the prehistoric trees...


One of this years Cygnets, not quite in full white plumage, still patches of grey. Not many ducks about today either. Wonder where they are all hiding?


Can you spot the Coot?


No idea what all these fluffy seed heads are from. 
The wind was carrying bits of the fluff away with it.


The sun had been shining when I started out on my walk, but now have been walking for about  thirty five minutes, not sure of the time as I rarely wear a watch, but a walk of three and a bit miles takes me about an hour. Anyway, turned my head to be confronted by this looming grey rain cloud.


If you look closely you can see the Cormorants perched on the tall tree to the right. They always over winter here on the lake. Last year we spotted eight of them.


See what I mean about the trees?  In the middle of winter when the vegetation has died down and there is a slight covering of snow they look like something out of an alien landscape.
Can you spot the Cormorants again? 
The two birds in the foreground are Seagulls, the Cormorants are at the back.


As I take the last bit of the footpath down towards the bridge over the river and back into suburbia, the sun comes out again....


........ and here we are, back to the traffic and housing estates. 
Another five minutes and I am home again. 

I opened the front door to be greeted by the smell of Vegetable Soup simmering  in the Slow Cooker.

Do hope you enjoyed taking a walk with me.










Saturday, 24 October 2015

Narcigesis





I  came across this new word  in an article I read this week. Had never heard of it before and wondered if it was one of those new 'made up/trendy words' that keep appearing in modern speech.

However, on further research, discovered that it is a noun taken from the word 'narcissist'.
According to the Greek myth of Narcissus, a young man fell in love with his own reflection in a pond, and his desire for himself consumed him.

Since eisegesis is a mishandling of Scripture, narcigesis is a clever term for those who take Scripture and personalise it. Making the bible verses all about themselves , taking passages out of context to fit into their personal lifestyles.

To understand narcigesis, we must first understand exegesis.

Exegesis is the preferred method of Bible teaching. It means explaining Scripture after careful study of the words, the context, and the Bible as a whole.

Narcigesis is quite a different theology. It explains a passage of Scripture with the focus on man, not God. Blending Scripture with cultural errors, narcigesis promises health, wealth and carefree living. Passages on personal responsibility and personal sin are ignored  or "reinterpreted." 

This is a brief description of what narcigesis  means. If you want to read further into the subject follow this link

Narcigesis is one reason Colossians 2:8 says,

 "Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ"

Monday, 12 October 2015

"For all the Saints...."



On 12 October 1915, British nurse Edith Cavell was shot at dawn by a German firing squad in Brussels for helping hundreds of allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium.

A century later, she is being celebrated in exhibitions and concerts in Norwich Cathedral and in public buildings in the city, and in the nearby village of Swardeston where her father was vicar and where she grew up.

Cavell was hailed as a Christian martyr concerned only with saving the lives of allied soldiers. Her execution provoked outrage in Britain. Egged on by the government, she was dubbed “our Joan of Arc” by the press.

“Everybody must feel disgusted at the barbarous actions of the German soldiery in murdering this great and glorious specimen of womanhood,” wrote Arthur Conan Doyle.

A headline in the Manchester Guardian on 22 October 1915 read: “Merciless Execution of Nurse Cavell,” while an editorial dwelled on the “callousness” and “brutality” of the German occupiers in Belgium, and the way Cavell’s execution was carried out quickly and secretly.

As All Hallows' Eve draws near on November 1st we remember the lives of all those gone before and those Christians who continue to be martyred across the world.

The Christian agency 'Voice of the Martyrs' defends religious liberty and contends that more of Christ's followers have been killed for their faith in the last century than in most of the previous centuries combined. The global evangelism movement reports an average of 165,000 martyrs a year, more than four times the number recorded in the last century.

'Amnesty International' brings to the public notice all those Christians imprisoned for their faith...there are many.

In this the twenty first century those countries that support religious freedom are experiencing increasing derision towards Christians. We can see it in the media, when academics; scientists; newspaper columnists; 'comedians'; radio and television programmes routinely denigrate people of faith.

 Here in UK there has been a rise in an aggressive kind of secularism which is intolerant of Christianity.   Some Christians sense that their ideas, symbols and activities are being marginalised.  As evidence of this they draw attention, for instance, to Christian images relating to Christmas being replaced with symbols of winter by some city councils.  In some situations Christians have found the implications of their beliefs to be unacceptable to their employers and they have been sacked for refusing to remove the Crucifix they are wearing

On UK television, Christians long to see themselves portrayed as normal and reasonable.  It is not uncommon for Christian characters to be presented in drama as narrow-minded or hiding evil intentions behind a show of religion.  This fosters an attitude of mistrust in which prejudice can thrive.

This persecution will increase, and it is a form of persecution, just as much as the  torture and persecution Christians face in those countries not tolerant of religious freedom.

With this increased secularism fragile convictions will collapse and the half hearted will become the cold hearted. Spiritual stowaways will jump ship by abandoning their faith. Many church goers will be exposed as faith pretenders  and not only will they leave the faith they will make the lives of the faithful miserable.

Makes for grim reading doesn't it?   But look around you, this is happening now to Christians here in the UK, and elsewhere.

Like Edith Cavell we should be prepared to die for our faith.



Friday, 9 October 2015

'Toeing the Party Line'......or not




As you know from previous posts I am a Novice in the Third Order of Saint Francis also living an eremitical life...as much as is possible within my urban environment.
The continuation of my journey to Profession  may be about to come to an end because I do not  'toe the party line'.

Let me explain ...in April  my particular Area saw a change in 'management' for want of a better word; that is a new Area Novice Guardian was appointed and unfortunately power has seeming gone to their head and numerous irritating 'new'  directives have been issued, none of which are country wide but personal edicts from the new ANG

First we had the edict that we  could no longer wear brown, we were to be 'individuals' in society rather than the Franciscan Community. Fair enough, am quite happy being an individual but am still a part of the Franciscan Community..then we had "no wearing of the Franciscan Cross"...or at least not on show.  So I reverted to my previous black wardrobe and my 'everyday cross', the San Damiano one is  at home. 

Then we had the very silly edict that we were not to refer to each other (fellow Franciscans) as Brother or Sister...this has just been totally ignored and we continue to use this greeting .

However, I remain an inconvenience because I do not' toe the party line' and do not accept the edict that I need  "permission" from the TSSF to live my chosen eremitical path.

Last time I looked we were free to pray and worship God as we please in this country and  no permission is needed as to how I should pray.
 
 So, an email informed me yesterday that my Novitiate will be "up for discussion" at the Area Pastoral Meeting in November. The outcome is a foregone conclusion  that  I will be deemed 'not suitable' to proceed forward to Profession.   A disappointment but not one that will alter my Franciscan commitment .  

Don't think that I have ever 'toed the party line' about anything...my Father taught me well , to think for myself, always ask questions, always make my own mind up and not follow the crowd blindly.


Great maxims to live life by...even though it means that friends are few and far between and you get labelled as a nuisance and an inconvenience.




On a totally different topic..... my daughter sent me this link , go watch it, a superb song by two great singers.