Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Adding Colour

The day began white and crisp.
If it hadn't been for the sparkle I would have thought it was snow, but it was merely frost.
I suppose I am just not used to seeing tyre marks through the rime, but that is mainly because I am an owl not a lark...

We COULD have stayed in, and done more sorting, but instead we decided to play truant and go to Worcester. Anywhere where I can take photos of water is a good place to visit...

Our usual car park (Kings Road - handy for the cathedral facilities) was full so we parked at Copenhagen Street.  However it was not a statue of a little mermaid that caught my eye, but  a seething, squawking, quacking gathering of gulls, swans and ducks, all eager for more than their share of the bread. One adult had even put bread on their child's hat in search of the ultimate picture. Now I like a good photo, but even I wouldn't go that far - I mean who wants a photo of their kid with bird poo on their hat? That's what I call really messing with their heads...

After lunch in Worcester, we walked down the riverside walk towards Diglis.
Once we were past the Cathedral, and the high flood water markings, this was foreign territory for my husband.

We crossed over the river at the new (2010) Diglis footbridge, pausing to read some of the locks adorning the bridge, celebrating love, life and loss.
Maybe we should have brought our own silver padlock of wedlock to add to the collection, but how would I feel if some jobsworth decided that they must go? Decrying it as some modern foolishness, rather than a record of passion and passing. Displayed with more permanency than a post on social media - for these are modern records, hung proudly for all to see and, if left, will be a historian's delight and treasure trove.

The earlier brightness had given way to Midlands grey, and so we decided to wend our way home, past more birds being fed with bags upon bags of bread. Soon I fear these birds will no longer be able to take off, weighed down by their diet of good intentions.

All in all you may say,
a day of black, white and grey.
Monochromed in unremarkableness,
but you didn't see the sun through the clouds,
or hear the roar of the weir,
the cries of the birds,
the chatter of voices,
or feel the coolness of the wind.

Nor have you seen the brightness of the scarves I brought...
half price in the sale!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Tale of Two Houses

Suddenly the house that had been a bustle of activity, was quiet and still.

The visitors had departed, off on their long journey home, with a planned pause to celebrate the New Year en route.  The Knotty Haired Teen was away in search of adventure and we were home alone.  We peered out at the fearsome whiteness of the frost and felt no urgency to brave the harsh reality beyond the protection of the central heating.

Finally the sun broke through and we decided to venture forth.  The choice was between Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton, was clinched by the new and brighter catering facilities at Packwood, which are always a delight to visit.  That and the fact that it is nearer!

Having enjoyed a 'Pulled Pork Caserole' we wandered around the small gardens, but there was not much to see, just the droplets from the melted frost. Understandably the lawned sections were closed to prevent them becoming complete quagmires.

We hoped that the walk around the lake would be open, but the gate remained defiantly closed. All we could do was gaze mournfully through the gate, and admire from a distance the path we had hoped to tread. The parkland walks were open, but are generally very muddy and unpleasant in wet weather.

We decided that it was time to move on to Baddesley Clinton, and were not alone in making that decision!  I quite understand the need to protect the ground, but Baddesley just seems to manage visitor access during challenging weather better than Packwood, where even the footpaths are awash with muddy redness!

At Baddesley Clinton half of the moat was frozen.  Ducks waddled clumsily across the ice, keeping carefully out of reach of the daring antics of the boys, with the self appointed task of destroying as much of the ice as possible, without actually falling in the moat.  A winter tradition passed on down through the generations and still alive and kicking - literally!!!  We all waited for the most enthusiastic of the participants to fall in, but by some miracle he managed to stay on the bank. I think God must have a soft spot for ducks...

We continues our walk around the icy lake, detouring though the nature area in an attempt to seek sanctuary from the icebreakers, and failed, for the lake contained more ice for them to break, so we left them to their timeless endeavours and retreated in search of the latte we had promised ourselves earlier.

Trees silhouetted against the sky reminded us that it was time to head home, chasing the last of the golden rays as we travelled  vaguely westwards.

Two properties, both very different, but now it was time for the tip and Tesco - a day of contrasting culture!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Every 10 years or so my husband completely surprises me with a Christmas present I do not expect, and this year he is looking very pleased with himself.   
I know he has brought me something I really need, 
but there is also a large box with my name on 
and I do not have a clue what is in there.  

I decided to try and find out what he is thinking.
"I haven't brought you much.." I began tentatively...
"That's OK, we don't want too many presents, 
after all we are decluttering" he replied, with a big grin,
knowing full that I am seeking clues.

I decide on a more direct approach.  
"I haven't a clue what is in that box."
He agrees with me, and looks very pleased with himself. 

Shopping isn't one of his passions, 
and he is delighted that I have no idea what is in the parcel.
Part of me feels a bit nervous.
What throw away comment or dream has he picked up on?  
What will be expected of me after I open it?

I love giving presents, but all of a sudden receiving them has just got a lot more complicated...
..and all this is happening because God gave his Son, to us...
How do we feel about that gift?
What expectations does it place on us about how we behave?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Manger Danger

This Christmas could have gone down in history
as the Christmas when we lost the manger!!  
Fortunately, God was much more on the ball than we were
and plan B, with the a substitute manger, was not required,
Nor plan C - the cardboard box.
Though perhaps the ignominy of being laid in a carton, 
would be more fitting,
for one who came to reach out to those on the edge of society.
He was not laid in the drawer from a piece of furniture,
unlike my elder sibling, 
when there was no cot in which she could lay her head.

However, our manger was not locked in the school, as we feared,
but was in transit, 
on a journey of it's own.
Instead of one manger we ended up with two!
Now all we need to do is get the second manger back where it needs to be, 
ready for Christmas Eve...

This Christmas, may we reflect on why we are celebrating, 
and forget not the manger!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Messy House

Mutter, mutter, clutter.
Mutter, mutter, declutter!

Then I take a break
and comtemplate,
but time won't wait.
The dreamer must become to doer.
Mary must become a Martha,
though she would rather
Sift through teenage detritus,
for tiny lego bricks.
For I cannot bear to throw them away,
for each one has a role to play.

Alas hama beads you do not have the same attraction!
Buy 10,000 for under £12 on Amazon
You are easily replaced
Cheap at half the price,
whatever that might actually mean...

There is a cupboard I haven't investigated.
Maybe I should just glue the door closed,
so no unsuspected person can get drowned
under a deluge of dolls house furniture.
Yes I know
it needs to go.
But already I have fought too many battles.
Bagged too many odd socks,
Sorted the recyclable from the non.
and discovered hama beads by the trillion.
Their only merit is that unlike Lego
Is they do not punish those who tread unwarily.

After two days of tidying bedrooms I am battle weary,
Immune to over sentimentality,
relentless in my crusade.
How do I differ from a fighter
cutting down those who are in the way,
victims used to make a point,
with no thought or concern for them
or their friends and family.
When do people cease to matter,
and just become another fatality?
A statistic
by the sadistic
in the battle for power?

Wouldn't it be good to have peace at Christmas?
A lasting peace.
Is that possible in a world where mankind is in control?

Friday, 19 December 2014


Step after step
Mile after mile.

A journey begins with the first step.
Each step is as important as the others.

Some journeys we travel with companions,
others we travel alone.

Sometimes we have to follow signs,
other journeys follow more familiar routes.

Travelling with burdens is hard.
May we let go of our hurts and disappointments,
and travel on with expectation
towards the joy,
of the season
and the year to come.

Lord, be my guide and my inspiration.
Forgive me when I wander along dead ends,
when I stick my fingers in my ears and refuse to listen
to your voice of reason and direction.
Forgive me when I am shouting so loudly about my own fears and worries,
that I drown out your suggestions as to whom you would like me to help.
Help me not to be so dazzled by materialism,
that I do not notice those in need,
or give you the glory you deserve.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Past

I remember when I was about 7 or so, young enough to have no doubt at all in the reality of Father Christmas, I twigged that it was not a level playing field.  I desperately wanted a bike. I wanted to ride fast and feel the wind in my hair.

In the run up to Christmas hopes and dreams were freely shared. The boy over the road announced with total certainty that Father Christmas was going to bring him a bike. My mother was the fount of knowledge and wisdom, so in all innocence I decided to sound her out to see if she had any idea what Father Christmas' intentions were.  It was my turn to dry up, and I can still see me standing in the kitchen, "Do you think that Father Christmas will bring me a bike?  The boy over the road is CONVINCED that Father Christmas is going to bring him one, and I wondered if he you thought he might bring me one too?"
"Oh, I don't think so..." ventured my mother, " besides it is not a good time of the year to have a bike, when it is too cold to go out and use it!  I could not fault her logic, but there was also a part of me that thought it was really unfair, that Father Christmas could deliver a bike to one child and not to another, particularly as we lived so close!  My mother consoled me with the thought that I would get other presents that would be just as good as a bike. In my experience adults generally tend to agree about these things, I had no expectation that Father Christmas would dare to go against my mothers wishes...and a little bit of magic was lost, until the day.

There were three reasons why Father Christmas wouldn't be bringing me a bicycle.

1. With four children in our family, there was a strict budget. My parents wanted us to understand that presents cost money, so in our house Father Christmas only brought the 'stockings'.  We were perfectly aware that our main present came from our parents.  Christmas was a time of generosity, but not of excess.  The suggestion that we might follow the custom other children seem to be adopting and hang up a pillowcase instead of a sock, was met with the reminder that Father Christmas does not really approve of greed, and might not leave anything!  We didn't want to risk that and stuck with our 'socks' - though I was mystified as to why a sock suddenly became a stocking on Christmas Eve!  It is the old fashioned name for a sock, my father explained.

2.  Father Christmas didn't really exist.  Therefore our bedside bounty was entirely at the discretion of our parents, little did we know it.

3. My mother didn't approve of having bicycles in the winter when it was icy.  Unfortunately my birthday was also in the winter, so the first bicycle I acquired was a cast off from another child, with solid tyres!!!  I taught myself to ride by getting on a bike and pedalling.  It was before I knew fear. The idea of falling off didn't occur to me.  It was hard to ride like the wind on a bike with pedals that turned inwards with a crunching sound, and tyres that allowed you to feel every join between  the paving slabs.  On my next birthday, I did get a scooter, with ribbons that trailed out of the handlebars and a hooter, which enabled me to sail like the wind round the 'steep' bend at the corner of Larkfield and Harport.

That Christmas was whiter that white, with one of the heaviest snowfalls of my life!  Father Christmas duly delivered a red bike to the lad over the road, and I was satisfied, as Father Christmas had come up trumps and I awoke to a fab selection of all the things my mother would NEVER have bought me!  My mother was also satisfied, as she stood in the window and looked approvingly at the snow, and observed that there was little use in having a bike for Christmas, as you never knew what the weather would do!  Maybe my mother was wiser than Father Christmas - she certainly appeared to be more clued up on local weather!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Would you ask that if....

"Hey, have you seen the new Bish?  I wonder if she is a dish?"
"Would you judge her on her looks if she was a bloke?
Or would you be interested in her views on theology and commitment to social justice?
Poor woman! All she wants to do is serve God! She will get judged as much for her looks as her work!  How long before some of the well meaning editor is offering her 'fashion advice' - showing what she would like if she did her hair differently..."
"Hmmm...but I suppose they are going to quote her EVERYTIME there is an issue that affects women!"
"Well, like a man would know better? She was Dean of Women in Ministry in her Diocese since 2010.  I guess she will be well qualified to speak on behalf of women on the grounds of both experience and gender!"
"Fair enough!  But she doesn't get to sit in the House of Lords..."
"Not yet, change happens slowly. Not all Bishops get to sit in the House of Lord's either!"
"Why have the picked her to be Bishop in the Diocese she is already serving in?"
"She is going to be a trailblazer.
She will undoubtably encounter resistance, sadly.
It makes sense to give her all the help she can get,
 by keeping her in a Diocese where she already has good relationships to build on."
"I had never heard of her before the announcement!"
"How many Bishops have you heard of, before they are appointed?"
"None, actually"
"She looks quiet and competent.
I remember talking to a male member of the clergy,
 and asking him if he felt daunted by his role,
and he didn't but reflected that was a male perspective.
I thought that the quote from the new Bishop of Stockport was interesting - she said
"I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.
Men and women complement each other.
Maybe a bloke would not have admitted to feeling daunted by such an appointment,
in case it was perceive as a sign of weakness.
I am reminded of Mary, honoured by being chosen, and aware of the implications.
For  both of these women, life will never be the same again,
but they will both be aware of God guiding them in the tasks he has called them to do.
May we also be aware of God guiding us in the tasks he has called us to do."
" Amen - just one more question...If Libby does ever get to serve in the House of Lord's as one of the Bishops, will she be a female Lord Bishop, or a Lady Bishop?"
"Time will tell!"

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Just an ordinary day, in an ordinary place.
A venue we have used many times before.
SuddenlyI don't want to be here any more,
but I can't just walk out of the door...

It could have been you,
it could have been me,
or any member of our family.
In a familiar place,
or somewhere we have never been before.
Selected at random.
Suddenly we abandon
hope of getting out of here alive.
This wasn't supposed to happen!
I never would have darkened the door
or walked across the floor,
if I had known those steps were taking me
to fear and pain and death,
rather than a latte or a cup of tea.

If only I had stayed home
and lived to grow old,
instead of being a hero.
Dying to protect a friend,
Trying to protect my staff

Dying for a cause I believed in,
though no-one was listening
except me,
to the tortured thoughts
that pass through my head.

When you left this morning,
it was just another day.
Classes, assignments, homework.
Snatching a joke with a friend
Did I think it would end
with so many dead?
The fear and the injustice,
of such indiscriminate attack,
against those who cannot fight back,
and are gunned down before they had a chance
to make a difference to the world.
The cost of education in a war-torn land

It's the Taliban
in Pakistan.
Snatching away the lives of  the 141.
Who will remember this pain and sorrow
beyond tomorrow?
But we will remember Sydney,
because it could have been you or me
or a member of my family,
having a coffee.

...and the unspoken reasons
why we will remember 3
rather than 141
are colour and culture :(

Monday, 15 December 2014

'Amazon'er Anonymous

As a participant in the race for perfection, I have to admit that I am a bit slow off the starting blocks.  The wise person might begin their preparations for Christmas in the sales, when items are reduced. I just do not function that way.  I only start to think about Christmas sometime in November.  Each year I vow not to go overboard, and I don't really, but it is sobering how I spend when giving presents just to  closest relatives and friends.  However, I do enjoy shopping, searching out a present that I hope will let the recipient know that I have thought about them and their taste.

I try to do my shopping in small independent shops, as I get really bored by chain stores that offer the same limited range of goods in every town across the land - yawn!  Then I suddenly become aware that the clock is ticking and I need to complete my shopping before Christmas Day dawns. I have a confession to make. Despite everything in me hating the way they treat their staff, and how they undercut other companies WHILST NOT PAYING TAX, I revert to Amazon, because it is the easy option.
1) Wish lists - I can finish off my shopping by finding out what my relatives really want me to buy them.
2) Choice - I have a large range of items to choose from.
3) Free delivery - if I chose carefully and don't  cut it too fine, I can use the 3 - 5 day service.
4) Direct delivery - if necessary I can arrange for a present to be delivered to their home, instead of waiting it to arrive, wrapping it, and going off to the post office.  The present wrapping option really comes into its own at this late stage!

At this point I feel like I should join a group of other people who find themselves in a similar position and attend support meetings. "Hello, my name is Rose and I have shopped at Amazon.

Maybe next year everyone will get gift vouchers - no wrapping, no shopping, no hassle, but not quite in keeping with the spirit of Christmas I feel!

Sunday, 14 December 2014 Divinity?

How much easier would it have been if there had been mobile phones and the internet at the time Jesus was born.

No need for Mary & Joe to go to Bethlehem - they could have registered online, and if they had to go, they could have booked accommodation at a Travelodge...or a Premier Inn - with breakfast as an extra.  If they left it until the last minute to book then could have been their best option.

The wise men could have used an app on their smart phones to identify and track the star, saving them all that journey, lugging precious gifts.

No need for the angels to sing, they could just have used itunes, and attached rechargable speakers to their wings...

As for the shepherds, they could have searched for the stable using street view....and once they had identified potential locations gone and checked them out - which would have been a lot quicker, surely?

It may have been easier, faster, more predictable if they had been able to access the internet, but it would have removed one thing - their dependancy on God. The short term gain would be unlikely to have strengthen their faith, instead it probably would have increased their feelings of self-sufficiency.  May we not fall into that trap!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Message of Advent

I was reading an article which showed what our facebook posts reveal about our personality.  I wondered what my blog revealed about me, so I did a 'wordle' on my blog...

Mary, is the dominant word, but we are in the Advent season, and for me Mary is a big part of Advent. I am pleased to see that Jesus, Joseph (and Joe) and God also put in an appearance! Sadly 'cooking'  also features, which for me is the only negative word I have spotted so far!

I really like this wordle .  Wordles are usually pleasing to the eye, as the words dovetail very effectively, and this one is no exception.  However it is more than the pattern of words, it is the words themselves that are significant.  I can see 'journey', 'door',  'evening', 'think', 'wonder' 'appeared' and 'joy' - all positive words with a sense of anticipation.  As I look forward during this season of Advent, it feels as if my blog is reflecting the season of watching and waiting.  

Friday, 12 December 2014


I plod.
I plod through life.
I plodded through my assignments.
I plod through my service preparation.

I avoid housework
I avoid housework
I avoid housework
Reality catches up with me.
I plod through housework
Plod. Plod. Plodity, plod.

I avoid cooking
I start cooking.
I enliven the process by attempting to lob the veg off cuts across the kitchen and down the waste disposal unit
I miss. I miss. I miss.  Success!
I miss :(
I attempt to further enliven the drudgery by hurling the oven gloves at anyone who passes by...
I ignore cooking
I ignore cooking
I ignore...
The smoke alarm goes off.
I vow that I should not be left in charge of a kitchen...

I think about making cards.
I think about wrapping presents.
I think about lots of things.
I think about logging off facebook.
Facebook wins.

I go ringing.

And so Lord, I reach the end of another day.
A day in which I have achieved more than I expected , but less than I wanted.
Thank you for all I take for granted,
and please help me not to spend so much time on pointless triviality,
that I ignore the bigger issues.
Lord, I am sorry that I allow the world I live in to be a place of such inequality and oppression.
Show me where I can make a difference to others,
and to do the little I can to make the world a better place,
where your light still shines.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Speculation and Contemplation

"Blooming politicians!  A journey to Bethlehem is all I need! muttered Joe
"Blooming Braxton Hicks!  A journey to Bethlehem is all I need! responded Mary, not quite as meek and mild, and feeling quite irritable due to the discomfort of late pregnancy.
"You can't call them Braxton Hicks, John Braxton Hicks isn't going to name them for another 1900 years! You can't go disturbing the space time continuum like that!"
"Here I am, about to give birth to the Saviour of the World and to become one of the most blessed of women, and you expect me to calm and serene?"  raged Mary "At least I get remembered, you fade from the scene, unheard of after Jesus was 12!"
"Henpecked into submission!"
"True!, agreed Mary, smiling despite her discomfort, "the most famous step-parent ever!"
"Hmm!  That is a sobering thought!  I wonder what Jesus will look like?
"Blonde with blue eyes, and a pale complexion...."
Goodness Mary, THAT really would set the tongues wagging!  The poor lad needs to at least look as if he is Jewish and be able to blend in!"
"That's true!

Mary and Joseph stared into the embers of the fire and contemplated the future, when instead of two, they would be three.
"Joe...." asked Mary, tentatively, "Do we HAVE to have him you know 'done'?
Joseph sighed
"I assume you are referring to circumcision,"
Mary nodded, anxiously.
"Mary, I am sorry, but EVERY Jewish boy has to be circumcised. Try not to worry about it. it will be over before he knows anything about it. It really isn't anything to make a song and dance about!"
It is just something that happens to every Jewish boy, a mark of belonging.  God is entrusting us to bring Jesus up to be Jewish.
Let's get some sleep, we have a long journey ahead of us, but whatever happens God will be with us, preparing the way, using his angel armies if necessary!"
The couple settled down for the night, then Joseph thought of something
"Blue really does suit you!
And in the darkness Mary pondered, on this and many other things, as she drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Past Revisited

Yesterday evening we went to the nearby village of Feckenham to ring.  I do not remember the last time we were there, possibly before my daughter was born.  When I say 'there', I mean in the church to ring. We often drive through Feckenham, and sometimes even stop - as there is a camping and outdoor shop.  This, however, was a different sort of visit. We weren't passing through, or indulging in retail therapy, we were joining in with members of the local community in an activity that is part of the structure of village life. Most of our small band decided to join in with the practise. Six people is a mini invasion, so I had phoned ahead, and checked they were ringing and happy to welcome us.

Compared to Redditch, Feckenham is quite posh, and even has an illuminated Christmas tree on the village green. The church is situated just off, with the access being past some very cute cottages.

Country darkness is totally different to town darkness.  We could see some lights on in the church, so we walked down the path, focusing on the lights ahead - unable to see our feet or each other.  We could have got our phones out, but we didn't want to compromise our journey.  So down the path we walked, breathing in the scent of the rain upon the trees. it smelt like pine, but it was a faint fragrance, barely discernible and bearing very little relationship to the overwhelming pong of disinfectant or any other cleaning products.

We approached  the porch gingerly, for neither of us could remember if there was some sort of gate or outer door.  Stepping into the porch, I reached forwards, guessing where the centre of the door would be, and felt somewhat relieved when I located the metal ring of the door handle.  I opened the door, and in the comparative brightness I saw a 2 man reception committee - one of whom I instantly recognised.  It was the first time I had rung on eight for many years, and the bells are a delight to ring.  The evening was very encouraging.  Until you try, you do not know what you remember!

As I reflected on the evening, I pondered on how...

  • The lights on the green gave hope, a promise of a welcome.  
  • Our walk down the darkened footpath, was just a taste of the 400 years of silence before the birth of Jesus.  
  • That we needed to reach out, and engage with events in order to get the most of our evening, just as we need to take the opportunity to reflect on why Jesus was born, and consider how it will shaper our thoughts and actions.
  • When I am ringing, and in the right place it all makes sense. A parallel in miniature, of events of the first Christmas, that in isolation appeared to be totally random.

Keep watching and waiting this Advent, and walking towards the light.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Mary Did You Know?

Mary did you know....

...That when your contractions started, that this was it!
You were on the roller coaster of motherhood - years of joy and pain, but mostly joy.

...That the birth of your child would trigger an invasion of smelly shepherds,
straight from the hills.
History does not record who acted as midwife for you.
Perhaps shepherding would have been a better training for the job, but God chose a carpenter.
I wonder if Joseph took any tools with him on that journey to Bethlehem?
The romantic side of me imagines him carving an elaborate cradle, fit for a king.
The realist in me acknowledges that he is more likely to have adapted something that was there, quickly, simply and efficiently, whilst making as little noise as possible.

...That by the age of 12 your son appeared to have a precocious knowledge
and an intimate relationship with God.
How did it feel when your son appeared to be closer to a divine being, than his family?

...That your son would perform miracles - turning water into wine,
feeding thousands,
healing the sick
and raising the dead to life?
I wonder how you felt as he walked away from the job Joseph trained him to do,
and became an itinerant preacher,
replacing you and your other offspring with a new 'family' of fisherman, tax collectors, and odd balls?

....Rumour reached you of him having a tantrum in the temple.
Boy, they rushed to your door that day!
"Can't you control him?", they said, "after all you are his mother!"
"We always thought there was something odd about him..."
"Well, you know what they say. The quiet ones are the worst!"
"Not much time for you now, has he?  You must have wished that you hadn't bothered having that one!"
Meanwhile, you remember how much you had to save up to pay for the sacrifice
when each of your children was born,
and are quietly thinking
"Nice one, Son!  About time someone took action against those crooks!"

...When one of his 'new cronies', betrayed him, 
and you watched, broken-hearted as the life slowly and agonisingly left his body..

..When there was no body in the tomb.

... When you KNEW that he had accomplished all he came to do.

Mary, Did you know?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Good Day

It has been a good day.

The sun shone.

I wandered around the cathedral cloisters in Worcester,
admiring the decorated Christmas trees.
Some are surprising,
some quirky,
some predictable
but some are challenging - reminding me how very fortunate I am to live within a relatively peaceful and affluent society.
Sadly not everyone is as fortunate.

We wandered along the bank of the Severn, towards Diglis lock.
A lone canoeist passed by,
leaving ripples that soon dissipated.
That is like my life, Lord.
I am here n this earth for such a relatively short time.
Who will remember me when I am gone?

It is quite sobering to realise
how little effect our lives will have.
How soon we will be just a name on a family tree, researched on a website?

Today was a good day.
We sat and chatted in a cafe.
Then we encountered a bottleneck of buggies in the ladies!

Today was a good day,
we watched the sun set behind the Malverns,
as we drove down the highway.

Later we can be busy, but in this season of Advent, take time to:-
...Watch the arc of water falling from his paddle, catching the light.
...Let God speak to you, through pictures and words.
...Let God open our eyes to the needs of others.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Appearances Are Deceptive

On the 1st day of December, the boxes came down from the loft and the tree appeared in the bay window, plus lights.

On the 3rd day of December a few decorations appeared on the tree...and power was connected to a second set of lights

On the 4th day of December, a few more decorations appeared on the tree.

On the 6th day of December, the holly lights were draped 'artistically' around the front garden.

From the outside it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

On the inside - oh dear!

The lounge is strewn with decoration boxes, partly unpacked. A selection of mini trees jostle for position on the window cill.

In the middle of the hall looms
a Very Large Box Containing Abandoned Knitting Projects - the fate of which remains undecided.
Am I ready to give them up?
Am I every going to complete them?
Would they bring joy to someone else?
Will I make a decision BEFORE Christmas,
or shall I just throw a decorative cover over them
and continue to pretend that they are not there...

The study - hmmm - needs a VERY GOOD TIDY.

The spare room - chaos.

The Kitchen - surprisingly tidy.

The conservatory - its too cold to open the door and find out...

What about me?
Am I ready for Christmas?
Well my shopping isn't complete....
Oh, that isn't what you meant.
You were asking if I was ready
to welcome my Saviour?
That is a very good question.
I will answer it when I have tidied the house,
planned the celebrations,
wrapped the presents,
bought the turkey....

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Love came down

Love came down at Christmas
Love, turning prophecy into reality
promise into a baby

Love, appearing to those on the edge of society,
blessed by a musical oratario beyond their appreciation
but God is like that - giving us more than we deserve 
or can appreciate!

God paints the the glorious sunrise
across the skies
while we slumber.

God creates dew drops of amazing clarity and perfection,
magnifying cells and catching the light,
that evaporate while we are still indoors.

God shines reflections into puddlles, that we drive obliviously through in our rush to complete the never ending tasks.

God creates new life, after new life, after new life 
to enjoy this world, 
while we try and destroy it with toxic chemicals 
and global warming.
Short term benefits, while God sighs disparingly 
as we blame the 3rd world.

God create a rhythm and pattern to our seasons, 
while we fly perishables halfway around the globe in an attempt to acheive consistant medicrity in our packaged food.

God created seven days and night to provide us with sufficinet rest.
We stayed up to late, arose grumpily
and shopped on the Sabbath

Yes God still loved us enough 
to send his Son to earth
to be misunderstood, rejected and murdered.

God knew all this
yet still loved us enough
to send his son to earth
for us.

Friday, 5 December 2014


Today we travelled because we could,
we wanted to visit a town which,
until this moment,
had only driven through,
which looked like it had interesting shops,
and so because we could,
we did.

And so it came to pass that we went Christmas shopping in the small town of Llangollen.

While we were there we....
Investigated shops and discovered a really nice gallery.

Stood on the bridge and admired the fast flowing water of the Dee

Explored the sights, and some were rather strange....

Wandered through the trees by the river...

Admired the church

Then we went up to Horseshoe Pass, so that we could admire the stunning views, 
just because we could

But what if we found ourselves:- 
  • Shunned by the local community because of some perceived breach of custom?
  • Forced to travel many miles to register at the whim of some politician?
  • Unable to obtain accommodation at the point our child was due to be born?
  • Forced to seek shelter in a cave with animals.
  • Left with no choice but to bring our child in to the world in conditions that were not at all sanitary?
  • Disturbed by some dodgy farm workers, who thought that a bleating lamb would add to our joy?
  • Visited by strangers, who thought that cold metal, ointment and embalming fluid were approppriate gifts for a new baby!
  • Forced to become refugees in a foreign land, to stop our small son being murdered?
  • Feeling responsible for the slaughter of all the many boys left behind?

What if
  • I was only 14 years old.
  • My parents had arranged for me to marry a man quite a lot older than me.
  • I appeared to have pre-emtped my vows, and while still a child, was treated as if I was a fallen woman.
  • Shunned by those who had been my friends and the victim of a whispering campaign.
  • No-one was sure who the father of my child really is, and if I was to tell them I would be accused of blasphemy!