Archive for the 'General' Category

So much to say….

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I always have so much to say you’d think I’d be blogging all the time – but no, not me – it’s not the same as a good ‘chin wag’ and being able to debate topics of the day with actual live people in front of you who respond immediately. To be quite honest I can’t be bothered reading other people’s blogs and can’t imagine anyone (other than my husband and a generous friend or two) bothering to read mine. Still, I haven’t blogged in ages and I’m stuck at home today (anyone who has ever had to take ‘Picolax’ will understand) so I’m sitting here with a pile of ironing and decided to blog instead.

So what’s new? I have a friend I bump in to occasionally around town and it’s got to the point that she sees me and says “don’t tell me, someone’s died.” My brother called me the “grim reaper” for a while because I was the bearer of sad news – only because there was sad news. I have good news but seeing as I haven’t blogged for ages I’ll get the sad news out of the way. Actually, it’s very sad news. My uncle Davey – born in Liverpool – loved sport – was an amateur boxer – loved to sing Buddy Holly songs – served his National Service – married, had a child and then struck down at a tender age with a massive stroke and in that single stroke lost not only his physical health but his whole life as he new it. Alone, physically disabled, incapable of walking normally or talking normally again and much more. Silently he endured. His ‘pick you up’ came in the form of my mum and dad and aunty Jean and uncle Billy, all of whom he survived. He came to live with us. He lost his family but joined ours and for as long as I can remember he’s always been there. Recently, however, he was taken into hospital and despite the best efforts of doctors and nurses, he died and I cried. My lovely uncle who had in many ways a sad life, a life you’re glad you haven’t had to live and yet a life that he was also able to enjoy because of his love of sport and music and good company and a pint and because of the people whom God put in his life to make it more bearable.

He NEVER complained. He NEVER blamed. He resolutely accepted and put up. No one knew how he really felt. The medics of the 60’s left him to get on with it. Not for him counselling or rehab. Truth be told, I didn’t really want to know – it was bad enough seeing. Being there for him with the support of Peter and our children is what I did. But he was also there for me. He was “our Davey” and he died “our Davey” and he joins the list of those for whom my heart aches.

Davey and Sandra

Take Care To Remember

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I’m in the book of Judges at the mo’ and read the following verse:-

“….and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work which He had done for Israel.” Judges 2v10.

The context of this is that in Israel’s recent history they have had the exodus from Egypt, and 40 years in the desert and more recently, entry into the promised land. So much has happened. Almighty God has directly intervened in their lives – generations of Hebrews have personally witnessed the miracles, mercy and judgement of Almighty God – Awesome! (That is “awesome” in the real sense not the American sense). Yet, now settled in the ‘Promised Land’ a few generations later, perhaps great, great, great grandchildren – something so awesome could become irrelevant, even forgotten.

How easy it is to disregard what has gone before and to settle for what you have. How difficult it is for subsequent generations to feel connected with what has happened in the past.

How relevant are the last two world wars to this generation? How relevant will they be to future generations? My parents lived through the second world war. My recently departed friend, Lucy, lived through both world wars. They experienced it. I did not. But, I have been told, reminded through the media, history etc. Therefore, I can appreciate what has taken place and accept that I live as I do because of those events. We have November 11 as “Remembrance Day” to help us remember. Still, subsequent generations have settled for what we have now and all but disregarded what has gone before. We have taken for granted the advantages that are ours but which previous generations sacrificed in order to preserve our/my future.

However, look across at Ireland …. if only they would forget! They are a people who’s memories linger not just for a few generations but for centuries! Grievances of centuries ago are still held and battles still rage within – even the ‘peace’ of today is not real peace. Look at the Middle East, Asia, parts of Africa…the people remember only too well and the hurts run deep.  There are some things we need to ‘choose’ to forget in order to forgive and be healed.

So what does that verse in Judges have to do with me, with you today? Well, we live in a generation which has arisen who does not know the LORD or the work which He has done. We live for today. How difficult it is for subsequent generations to feel connected with what has happened in the past. How difficult it is for them to feel connected with God when they personally do not know Him or want to know Him.

Our British culture has forgotten its God and the victories He has given us through two world wars – we don’t just enjoy the benefits of living in Britain, we take them for granted. The privileges we have today came at a great price. Our God has reached down to us and it cost Him His beloved Son.

Faith comes through hearing the Word. How can they hear unless someone tells them?

Tell someone about what God has done for you today – remind them of God’s grace. If you do not know God then stop and think of just one thing you take for granted, such as breathing, and thank God for providing you with air to breath.

God left the godless nations in Israel to test them “whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD…or not.”

“Take Care” is an expression we say glibly but really it is packed with warning – “be alert,” “watch out for yourself, “be aware of danger so as to avoid it.”

May we take care today.

And Christians Believe What Exactly?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

“In the beginning God created…” but not according to some Christians who believe that God doesn’t mean what He says, He means something else entirely and it’s all open to interpretation. Sadly, Steve Chalk has joined the ranks of those who profess God but which God exactly, not the God of the Bible, not the Creator God, not the Holy God who abhors sin so much that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish (at the hands of the Holy God) but have eternal life, not the God who for the sake of His beloved creation became one of us to die our death for us. No, not that God. Another god entirely. A god that fits in with evolution. A god that overlooks our sin, a god that will not punish (for there is nothing to punish), a god that cannot, indeed need not ‘save’ for there is nothing to save us from, no consequences for our actions (unless we’re caught out in this world and they offend the ‘god’ of this world). And not the Jesus of the Bible, not the Son of God Most High, because to believe in Jesus of the Bible you would also have to believe what He says about Himself and about His Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth and seeing as how Steve Chalk doesn’t believe that, I wonder what Jesus he believes in. Confused? If you saw the programme on Sunday morning when evolution and creation were discussed (I profess I only caught a bit of it as I was off to church  on the Lord’s Day (that is Jesus of the Bible, Son of God) you would have seen a lone Christian lady, a science teacher arguing for the debate to be taken into schools to allow pupils to have both sides of the argument presented – she takes God at His word, He says what He means and means what He says. This so annoyed Claire Short, ex MP, who couldn’t tolerate the thought that a science teacher could be a Christian. That’s ok, Claire isn’t a Christian, her eyes are blinded, she cannot be expected to understand nor indeed accept God’s word as yet she does not know her Heavenly Father. Steve Chalk on the other hand professes that he does know Him and yet would sit publicly on live TV and denounce His word and undermine his sister in Christ in support of the ‘theory’ of evolution. He quoted Augustine to support his reasoning. Well, the science teacher can go better than that, she can quote Jesus! Selah.

Stuart’s Dream Come True..

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Ever since Stuart was tiny he has loved cars and has always wanted to drive. At 17 he got his provisional licence and had some driving lessons. He then had to wait to get a part time job to fund further lessons, which he did. Unfortunatley, he failed his first test which left him gutted and knocked his confidence. However, he picked himself back up and worked hard to fund further lessons and another driving test (not cheap) and I’m pleased to say, last Saturday a.m., he passed!! Well done Stuart. Thanks to Pedro, his teacher. We’re very proud of Stuart – he works hard at his job at McDonalds – long hours – but he now has the satisfaction of seeing some of the fruit of his labour. A driving licence is an asset. He’s now got his … next Alexandra!!

Jean Has Died But The Gene Lives On

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Sadly, aunty Jean died peacefully at just 66 years of age. The third daughter of 10 children. She had suffered ill health these past couple of years. Aunty Jean was the biggest chatterbox to mankind (contrary to popular belief that it’s me or should that be Joanne?!) I was named after her except her name wasn’t Jean but Dorothy Jane but then names are never what they seem in my family – am I a ‘Smith’ or a ‘Smyth’ – will I ever find out? Watch this space. Aunty Jean was a larger than life character and champion for lost causes. But she lives on…..

I picked up my niece and nephew from school the other day and once in the car Lauren chatted all the way home telling me one tale after another. James once or twice started the tale but Lauren always took over. What caused me to cry?… At one point Lauren fell silent and James began…only for Lauren to say “James, please, let me speak.” James duly shut up and I cracked up. And so, aunty Jean lives on! She will be missed but not forgotten.

Lucy, my oldest friend at 92, has also died. You can read about Lucy in my homeless blog. Stoic. A true Brit. No one seems to know what being British means anymore. Lucy’s generation does. However, Lucy is part of a dying breed no longer recognising the Britain of today.

For both aunty Jean and Lucy they are now ‘home’. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, if it were not so, I would have told you.” Selah!Š

A Lot Happens In A Week….Or Two!

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

We all know you can be waiting ages for a bus then three come at once!  Well for me, life’s been trickling along like it does – the ‘summer’ holidays came and didn’t seem to go … both Stuart and Alex finished their courses by the end of May this year and never seemed to be going back until – middle of September they both have to be off, one to Uni the other to college.  Not only that, Peter’s sabatical from preaching ended and he was due to preach two Sundays in a row at a church in Cheshire.  So, one Sunday we travelled down to Altrincham where Peter preached a sermon about Job then bombed it up the motorway to Preston to register Alex and settle her in her accommodation.  Mums and daughters around us were hugging and crying – I asked Alex if she’d miss me and she told me she would – if I left…. so we left her.  She’s in her second week now and loving it handling reptiles and rodents without a care in the world.  Also, on Monday she strated her work experience at a local vets and thought observing a rabbit’s op., was “cool.”

 Stuart is also enjoying his course.  He’s commuting, which is ok but expensive so he’s looking to move out … I’m looking to revamp his room!  He has Wed off(?) Also, on Tues his assignment was to stay in Southport taking photos – how tough is that?

 Still, how wonderful for them and how lovely for Peter and I to see the plans put in place last year be realised this year.  Alex commented the other day that we’d prayed about this and put it before God and He had allowed it to happen.  It reminds me of the Proverb “Man makes his plans but God directs His path.”

Congrats all round!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

It’s the day they’ve waited the past five years for – exam results – GCSEs to be precise – all done and dusted for another two years and joy and relief or re-sits and dismay.  Well, thankfully, for Alex and friends its joy and relief, Mikey, Hannah, Haig, Lesley ‘n’ all have done well and passed and are moving on to a new phase in their lives.  Well done to them all.  Their future is before them …. we don’t know what the future holds but we do know Who holds the future.

Homeless!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

What does the word homeless mean to you?  What images does it conjure? People that you know?  For me it now has a new connotation after visiting my friend Lucy, 91 (almost 92) who lives in a nursing home.  She used to be my next door neighbour.  Instead she now has one room – ensuite – with remnants of her old home scattered about.  She is moved out of her bed into a chair – out of the chair into bed.  Her head is bowed low and her appetite has gone.  She enjoys soup but sometimes falls asleep and it is left to go cold and removed and its only served at lunch time.  She could ask but she doesn’t like.  Instead, in the evening she has milk.  Lucy has all her faculties and shows great interest in all who visit her.  She remembered that my children’s exam results would be through and asked after them.  She asks about her old neighbourhood and I tell her about our mole and ‘manic Peter’.  She laughs.  Then sadly, she says “I have no home.”  She tells me how awful that feeling is.  Nowhere to “go home” to, even though she’s too frail to go anywhere.  Lucy has been in a nursing home for over three years now.  The staff are kind and friendly and although this is now in effect her home, it never can be “home.”

Lucy was a midwife during the blitz in Liverpool, delivering babies and having to go outside to fetch water and seeing Liverpool on fire – she describes it looking like “hell”. (My dad was 9 or 10 when he watched from his bedroom window the same event).  Lucy delivered Cilla Black and dressed Paul McCartney to go home after he was delivered.  Lucy worked with his mum.  She is one of the last stoic, British ladies who remind us why Britain was once called Great.

My uncle is also in a nursing home and desparately wants his own place.  He had one and couldn’t manage and needs 24 hour care – to be lifted and washed and dressed etc., still he wants his own place – a place of his own – a place he can call “home” – this it appears, is more important than practicalities like being able to move.  This is what causes depression and introverted nature and the ‘blocking out’ of life.  No matter how caring the staff.  Dependent upon someone, anyone to visit, to take out to break up the existence.  He once had a life – a wife, a child a home – he was once a boxer and was reviewed regularly in the paper – he has served his national service – but that was all a long time ago – another life.
My aunty is an EMI home.  She is only young but has ‘rapid onset dementia’ and rapid it is.  This once vibrant, glamorous lady with an opinion about everything and everyone, was once on TV for Gingerbread – fighting for the rights of divorced women left alone at that time to bring up the children whilst the husbands walked away – hers walked away. She fought for her brother’s rights above. She can no longer hold a cup – she is still ‘at home’ but ‘the lights’ are dimming. She knows what she is saying and looks sadly frustrated because no-one can understand.  She too just wants to be in her own home and is powerless to intervene.  Not long ago she won an appeal that she herself set in place to prove that she was not a mental case – she knew and objected to being treated as such – she proved she was right, sadly, it also proved the horrible, cruel reality of her true condition.  She won’t be going “home.”

So, being homeless in the traditional sense, especially in this country where our welfare system has to be the best in the world, isn’t quite as bad as being”homeless” and yet, again because of our welfare system life for the above mentioned is so much better than it could be or would be in other countries.  Each has their own room with their own ‘bits and bobs’ and photos and pictures and are cared for 24 hours and kept warm and fed and for the above, are loved and visited and have people who care and to speak up for them. For those without means, all this is paid for and their needs are met.  Sadly, the welfre state does not take into account our personal happiness but it does the best it can.  The carers work hard and are underpaid but most love their job and bring a smile to the faces they care for.

Alex in Benllech

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Alex had a great time in Benllech and the weather was good for a change – lots of sunshine. Hannah and I made a surprise visit to the team on Wednesday and I have to say, I was the one who was surprised. We made the trip in three hours. Its a lovely drive and I love Anglesey – if we didn’t have such awful weather we’d forget Spain etc and visit the local foreign shores of Wales and Cornwall. Anyway, back to my surprise. Alex smiling. Not only smiling but beaming. I knew she’d be good in a team and be helpful etc., but to see her up front, doing games and actions with 50 odd kids and their parents watching, not to mention passers by looking on, and enjoying it, was great for me to see. She so enjoyed her week away, sleeping on a roll up mat on a floor of a hall and making new friends of various ages. She is still buzzing from her experience and can’t wait until next year and she wants to do two weeks this time. Thanks to Karen for taking her and having her on her team for her first UBM. As for the dress code, Alex was accepted for who she is – black nail varnish ‘n’ all. It was a great team and all the members do a great job, most using their annual leave to participate in UBM – sharing the good news of Jesus with those who wanted to listen. The good news by the way is this “Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20 v28)
During that week Morna, Barney’s sister came to stay. You can catch photos of them both jumping if you log onto Peter’s photos. She is so cute and I feel tempted to get another dog…..

We went on ‘Rug Patrol’ yesterday at Langley Mansions in Formby. Longsuffering Bob (who incidently is also kind) has travelled near and far to find the perfect rug to fill a space in front of the hearth. He’s been up and down dales, worn the leather from the sole of his shoes as he’s traipsed streets all over the North West in search of “the” rug. On a couple of occasions he thought his prayers had been answered as Julie said “yes” and they brought the rug home – only for Julie to say “no” – and back it went and so the search went on. Bob now has a well practiced look for Julie when she asks his opinion – not too keen in case she suspects he’s just had enough and will say “yes” to anything in order to end the search, but not too off putting in case, just maybe, perhaps, this could be the one which puts him out of his misery. Alas, it is not to be. At Langley Mansions in Formby yesterday, there on the floor where once a perfectly nice, warm, inviting carpet lay, was instead the more trendy, uptodate, laminate flooring and in front of the hearth a poor lifeless rug who knows its time is coming to an end but until Julie finds “the” rug the end is not in sight. In the meantime, longsuffering Bob gets on with life and tries not to think about the next impending trek around the country to find “the” rug.

We’re there for you mate!
Exam results! Well done Stuart. He got his ‘A’ level and Diploma and is off to study graphics and photography at Blackpool. Good stuff.

Alex – we await her results in eager anticipation. God willing, she will be off to college in September and living in – that means moving out (aagh!) – for four days of the week – she can’t wait.

Anyone know how to get rid of moles? We have at least one in our garden which is intent on staying put despite Peter’s best efforts to deal with it humanely and inhumanely! Help!

Spain!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

We went, we saw and we’re back home!

First impressions of Spain – looked like Mexico and I should know as I’ve seen loads of Westerns. Our home for the week was a small villa in a residential area with a lovely beach and the Med at the bottom of the road. Loads of lovely old towns and villages to visit and a great first trip as there was a lot on offer locally. However, the Spanish don’t seem to like tourists. Between 12 noon and 6 pm everywhere is closed – no shops, no access to all the tourist attractions of the area. We have plenty of pictures of us outside buildings as we couldn’t get in. It was like visiting ghost towns. Not only that, the Spanish themselves do not go out of their way to be friendly or helpful. By 6 p.m., shops begin to open and if you wait until 8 p.m., restaurants begin to serve food and very good it is too. Personally, the only reasons to go to Spain is sun, sea and sand. In Britain we have plenty of sea and sand (we are an island afterall) but sadly we are lacking in the sun department, especially this summer. For us summer came early, Easter to be exact and nice it was too. Sadly, we thought this was the start of things to come but alas – no. We also got lots of “stares” this could be for two reasons, one we are all so white (lack of sun) and two, our two eldest children wore cut down jeans but looked like Huckleberry Finn and Max Wall respectively and perhaps they thought we were poor!

Whilst visiting a town not unlike Torquay, I saw a copy of the Daily Express with a brilliant picture of Muslim women surrounding a WPC with the slogan “British Police Go To Hell”. The reason I think this picture is brilliant is that it contrasts so well the teachings of Mohammad and Jesus. The women with their faces covered speaks so well of Islam. Whereas, the uncovered face of the very brave and professional WPC there to protect them epitomises the teachings of Jesus “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.” (Luke 6:27) Wow, what radical teaching.

Once home we settled back into normal life – loads and loads of washing (thankfully, the weather was lovely and it all got dry over two days) and Alex was sick with tummy pains by Friday she had “the Stevie Crams” unfortunately, we were due at my cousin’s wedding in Durham on Saturday. Saturday came and Alex was going to ge left behind under the supervision of her aunty – we were to leave by 10:30 am at the latest, that was the plan…..instead at 12:30 we were at the hospital doctor on call centre!! Confirmation that it was just a tummy bug, albeit painful, we dashed up the motor way, well not quite dashed exactly more strolled – long delays were predicted from where we entered to the motorway right on up until our exit. We sat and 30/40 mph the whole way, all the time debating whether or not to ring and cancel. We chose to ring and let all concerned know we would be delayed and thankfully, although we did miss the actual wedding ceremony we did make it for the rest of the proceedings. My cousin Joanne looked stunning and my cousin Claire her bridesmaid looked great in emerald green (the colour she turned down in favour of pink for my wedding)!! The flower girl Emma looked beautiful and it was a proud momen for her mum and dad too. The weather was gorgeous after so much rain and the setting, Lumley Castle Hotel was perfect. It was quite an initimate and informal wedding and Joanne smiled the whole day – she and Andy make a lovely couple and I’m sure they’ll be smiling for many, many years to come.

Alex felt better after she’d thrown up in the hall of the castle you’ll be pleased to know.

We travelled home at 12:30 am and arrived home at 3:15 a.m., safe and sound and sleepy.

See pictures below.

jo_wedding.jpg

claire_wedding.jpg

Alex is off to Benllech Bay in Anglesey on Saturday for a week with United Beach Missions. She’ll be at the beach every day entertaining children who turn up for the fun and games and bible teaching. It’s her first time and already she’s having to learn to “conform” as UBM’s dress code is a bit strict and I dare say at some point in the future they’ll have to “a dress” this 🙂