Trust

Who do we trust these days?

I was reading the headlines this morning on my newsfeed. I must admit I have given up Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 053.JPGopening articles because they are so negative. But as I was walking this morning I got to thinking about trust. I was brought up with the adage that you couldn’t trust politicians; that they were all two-faced, etc. Those of us politically minded would then go on marches, send letters, etc, even visit our local MP or go to the Houses of Parliament. This was in the days before online petitions so one had to be a bit dedicated to write and remember to buy a stamp, go to the post office, etc.

There is a tagline going around at the mo that says “the 0.2% have voted” which works on the lack of trust that these 0.2% have any idea what they are doing. It has almost gone beyond the “all politicians are two-faced” but to the “they haven’t got a clue”. Now I do believe there are a lot of politicians that don’t have a clue about being on benefits, dealing with the NHS, the state of the education system, trying to use public transport etc, etc. But I do think there are a lot of other people who don’t know or understand this either. So I think we need to be careful where we go with that.

But again this moved me on to the TRUST thing. Who do we trust? Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 050.JPG

Or more personally who do I trust? I trust my weather app and will look at that rather than out the window before I go for a walk! 🙂

But it led me to do I trust God? Followers of my blog posts, and my life, will know that we have been through some stuff where God hasn’t done as we would have liked. Do I still trust him?

Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 049Lesson from my dog – Renly and I were out walking at 7.30am this morning and it was still wayyyyy too hot so when we got to a stream I tried to persuade him to get a drink. He was frightened because the bank was a bit steep and he is only little. So I threw him in the water. He stood there with the cold water lapping round his belly and then walked out further so it was over his back. He drank and drank. For the first half of the walk he had trailed along because he was too hot. On the way back he ran like a mad dog because he was cool and so was happy. I’m not sure if he will still trust me by streams in case I throw him in but just maybe he learned that it was a good idea.

So sometimes God has to throw us into things for our own good to help us with the next part of our journey – no matter how hot or steep that next bit is but he wants to not just “lead us by still waters” (Psalm 23) but immerse us in those refreshing waters. We might not trust him next time he has us stand by those waters but he might just throw us in again for our own good. But it would have been much easier for Renly and for me if he had just jumped in when I’d showed it to him first of all and easier for us too if we just trust God a bit more.

So I may struggle to trust politicians or the media but I do need to, through the turmoil in our country and the direction of my life, trust in the Lord with all my head and lean on his understand – not my own (Proverbs 3:5)

Clapping the NHS

aplauding nhsInteresting times we are living in when many in the neighbourhood go out on their doorsteps at the same time every week to clap people who are not there. I’m not knocking those who do it but for me it is strange. I think the NHS are doing an amazing job and I worry about people I know who are having to be in there dealing with it all; friends, family and acquaintances. A sister-in-law, an NHS worker, has caught Covid-19, though thankfully only mildly and as yet none of her family are exhibiting signs. A friend’s cousin, also an NHS worker, had it mildly but then her husband caught it and is in intensive care. So yes I think they are doing a great job and should be respected and applauded. So I send them messages, tell them I am thinking about them, etc. But I do not go out and do the clapping. But that is because I don’t get it. But then I also do get many of these grand public outpourings.

But what got to me most of all was a local historic castle has very publicly put blue lights on its façade when the clapping was going on, made sure it was on all their social media that they had done things, emailed all their supporters. The emails had a donations button at the end but this was for the monument’s fund raising not the NHS raising. But also this place has made sure all its parklands are locked so no one can walk through them. Thankfully there are lots of other places to walk but I just wondered if a good public gesture would have been to open its parklands to give people more space to walk. Some who might even be those NHS workers who they are illuminating their building to support.

But this got me thinking about how we, and I include myself in this, make big open public gestures but don’t do the little things that will help. So how many people clapping, or even giving to the amazing people like Captain Tom to raise money to support the NHS, will be willing to have their taxes increased to support not just an improvement in the NHS but also to support all those who are on furlough, to improve our schools, our bin services, etc, etc etc. How many people who are in management in these sectors find it easier to clap than to take a pay cut so those below them could have a pay rise? How many are finding time to support local business? Not just now when we’re thinking about it but after this is over?

So I do applaud those who go outside to applaud the NHS, but I also applaud those who are key workers in other areas, but also those who are sticking to the rules and staying at home. But I do wonder what things will change when this is all over or will we just want it all to go back to normal without having to pay for it, make changes, or even look at what is wrong in this world to have brought things to this point. And by this point I don’t just mean this pandemic but a struggling NHS, an overly polluted planet, etc, etc etc.

Are you obeying Lockdown rules???

 

Is it just me or when you go out or look through your window or read Facebook or Instagram does the thought pass through your head of whether those people are obeying lockdown rules?

renly on the beach april 2020Maybe it is just me 🙂 But I know when I’m out walking my dog with my daughter I look at groups of people and ask myself “are you all part of the same family and living in the same house?” When I watch cars driving past I often think “is that journey necessary?” When I see all the cars in Tesco carpark I ask myself “how often have you been there this week?” All the time I’m judging people. And actually not in a good way.

What if those people walking together are from different families is it for me to judge? If people are walking for 2-3 hours rather than the one allotted for exercise, or going out 2-3 times a day instead of one, is that for me to judge?

Is it for me to judge? No it is not. I must follow the rules and guidelines as I have interpreted them but not judge others who see it differently. Yes they might get sick – but I must not say “serves the right”. They might die and that would be sad. They could stretch the NHS and that would not be good. But all in all it is their choice, as it is mine, how to interpret this whole situation that we have never been through before.

But it got me thinking of how much I judge others but the things I see them doing. And this can be good or bad, better or worse than me. Do they go to church more/less than me? So are they are better/worse Christian than me? Do they spend more/less time writing than me? Are they a better/worse writer than me? Etc, etc. Who am I to judge???

If nothing else lockdown has taught me how much I judge others by what I see and what I want to see. So today when I look at photos on Instagram or see people walking together outside or driving their cars I will just let it go and continue doing what I do. And trying not to judge myself!!

Who will say ‘I don’t know!’

Stay-Home-Stay-Safe-Graphics-3723422-1I have been reading through headlines like I have never done in a very long time. Every morning I check what the latest death toll is, what the latest report says, what is going on in the world. What has struck me through all of this is – there are a lot of people there with opinions but no one is willing to say “I don’t know”

Journalists and opposing political parties and people in general are asking questions – why do we have no PPE for our staff? why no testing? how did it get like this? who is to blame?

What I would really love to hear is someone high up in politics answer these questions but saying – I don’t know how it started, why it got this far, why we didn’t see it coming, but you know what? We’re in this together so lets stop blaming and try and work toward a solution.

Yes I know lots of people are volunteering, helping, doing what they are told and staying home. But actually we all want answers and we all want someone to blame. For me I would say a lot of the problem in our country is that we have continually voted for a government that cuts taxes. Unfortunately cutting taxes leads to services not being able to stock pile things ‘just in case’. If last year the government had stockpiled PPE ‘just in case’ the press would have been running them down for wasting money, wasting storage space, causing a panic.

Scientists are working hard to find out how it all started, why it started and what to do about it. Chinese food markets seem to be taking the brunt of it which could be where it all started, but why now? Why this year? What changed?

I think all governments from China on through were slow to react but I do wonder if that was because they didn’t believe it would get that big. We had a couple of health care professionals staying at our house in February/March and until around 5/6th March they were saying not to worry, that it was going to be like SARS, which though bad didn’t effect this many people even without lockdown. If in February our government had ordered a lockdown then people would have been screaming ‘Police state’. Actually our government did try to get people to be adult about it but what did they do? Rushed to local beauty spots to walk, climb, hang out. I wonder if people had stayed home that weekend and behaved like adults whether things would have been different and there would have been things closed by no lockdown.

I think we like to get ‘authority figures’ to give us answers because we are all scared children in a big world we don’t get understand. If someone in charge gives us an answer and it is wrong then we can cry out like the children we are. We do not take any responsibility. The cause of this could be you and me wanting cheap food, to pay less taxes, to be able to travel the world, etc, etc. But we would not accept that answer very well.

For me I would vote for the next person who says “I don’t know but we’re working with what we have and we’re learning all the time” and “Our political party will raise taxes to pay for this, to support WHO and overseas relief, to pay our NHS and teachers.” And I will be willing to pay more for my beer, my wine, my meals out so that those hospitality staff earn a decent wage.

Easter Sunday

DSCN0826 (1)I wonder how the followers of Jesus felt as they woke after Passover. Not the 12 disciples or the women who stayed with him. We know what went on with them. I wonder about those, who are like so many of us, sitting on the edges, are not part of the inner clique. Those who had heard Jesus speak, had felt something stir in their hearts, stayed with him even when they didn’t get picked to be the elite disciples. Those who shouted “Hosanna!” the Sunday previously and who stood at the back of the crowd when others shouted “Crucify him” and felt helpless to do anything about it. How did they feel?

I am thinking they felt a lot of what many of us are feeling now – grief, loss, anxiety, confused, uncertain. Did Jesus come to them? And if he did then when and what was it like?

As we go through these uncertain times, locked in by an unseen enemy, realising what a mess our world is in and how much it relies of economy rather than care, not knowing when this will end or what the future will hold will the Peace of Jesus come to us?

Many this Easter Sunday will be doing virtual church or be involved in things like https://ctbi.org.uk/sing-resurrection/ organised by a friend of mine. But also there will be people, I think, like those who were not connected with the inner circle of disciples and followers, who will just be getting on with their own thing. The thing they did to survive and live after Passover, after the world had changed.

My hope is that Jesus came to those people too. It isn’t recorded in the Bible if he did but my hope is that the Jesus I try to follow came to those who didn’t, or couldn’t, do anything special to wait for him; couldn’t or wouldn’t stop their daily lives. I hope he came for them. So this morning my hope is that whatever anyone is doing, whatever they believe, fear, hope, feel, that they’ll get a glimpse of Jesus and he’ll bring a bit of his healing balm to these uncertain, anxious times.

In defence of Airbnb

sunset
Sunset from one of my Airbnb rooms

As all who read this regularly know I am an Airbnb host. I have two rooms at the top of my lovely 3 storey house that I rent out. Because of Covid-19 that has all stopped. The cancellations started around my son’s birthday on 16th March and by the time the lockdown started on Monday 23rd everyone had cancelled. I have lost a lot of bookings and no one is booking yet for the summer because we are all waiting.

I read all the articles I see about Airbnb and they make me cross. Let me say clearly – Airbnb is a platform for those of us who wish to put our rooms, properties, caravans, etc on to so that people worldwide can see they are available. I get bookings from as far away as Burma, Australia, Brazil, Congo. I would not get these without Airbnb. I am not forced to put my rooms on to Airbnb. I know that they take a percentage from me for each booking I receive. I also know they take money from guests who book. This is all clearly stated. For this percentage, as well as getting the Airbnb website platform, I also have access to over insurance cover should things go wrong. I have never tried to claim so not sure how well it works but it is there. I also know that it is my choice how I advertise my rooms, what I say about them, about the area, about what people will receive when they arrive. It is also my choice how I behave to my guests. It is then also my guests choice how they review my property and me afterwards.

When I read stories that include how a man had a portfolio of properties on the Airbnb site and doesn’t know who he’ll cope financially now they have locked down the site. I want to say to that man that yes I am sorry that he will be losing his livelihood but that is not Airbnb’s fault. No one said he had to put all his properties exclusively on to Airbnb. They are more than happy for people to advertise on different sites and even have a function on how to sync calendars from those different platforms. Also, very big one –  at the moment no one should be travelling so you should not have people wanting to book your properties. Actually Airbnb have sent an email to all their hosts to say that if you are willing to have key workers stay they will make your properties available. Because my husband is asthmatic and we have my daughter staying, who has taken over the top floor, I’ve not tried this.

I have also read stories that talk about how Airbnb have let people advertise that their properties are a good place to stay during this crisis. No Airbnb did not do that. The idiot who’s property it is put that on his site and has somehow overroad the lockdown Airbnb have imposed.

I notice too that there are never headlines about how Sykes Cottages, Lakeland Cottages, etc behave or how bad they are. Let’s be fair

So please note – Airbnb is a platform  we host use not a boss we work for. We, as adults with rooms, houses, etc choose to put our lettings on there. Airbnb does enable us to do this. And Covid-19 is NOT Airbnb’s fault.

Brexit

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve had lots to say but not been able to work out how to say it, or have had other outlets. But this morning it came together.

dsc_0630I was at church where things were really uplifting but I didn’t feel it. I have had a heaviness in my heart since Friday evening with the whole Brexit thing. I’m not saying how I voted but what makes me sad is that – here is a momentous occasion in our nation’s history and yet the country is divided and so doesn’t know what to do.  Yes there were some who did have parties to celebrate, but it definitely wasn’t half the country. There were some who were in major mourning but again not all those who voted remain. There were many who were just numbed by the length of time it took to get from a vote to a movement. To me there was a sense of apathy, numbness and fear of the unknown. There was a sense of not knowing how to react so as not to upset anyone one way or the other. In our house the B word cannot be uttered because of where the conversation goes.

But this morning whilst we were singing it all made sense. We finished our service with an old favourite: Shine, Jesus, Shine by Graham Kendrick. The chorus says it all for me:

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

The lines I have highlighted I sang with gusto and as a prayer, but especially the line “Flood this nation with grace and mercy.dsc_0621

My prayer was that I don’t care what you voted for and whether you regret it or are pleased about the result, all I pray is that each of us can go out with GRACE and MERCY to cover this land, to heal this land, to heal division. And then … no matter what happens we can stand together, build our identity as a nation built on GRACE and MERCY, walk out whatever the future has with GRACE and MERCY, look each other in the eye with GRACE and MERCY. Only then can we really become the nation that we were meant to be.

Surely whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Jew or any other that I’ve missed you want to see peace in this land, see freedom in this land, to unity in this land. And that will only come about if each of us can be filled with GRACE and MERCY and give it away to those around us.

Projected Expectations

I run my own business – room rental and writing workshops. One of the suggestions for your business, if you’ve ever watched Dragons Den, is to projected your future income.

path-of-least-resistance
what is this river’s projected expectation? 🙂

So every so often I do that. But then what I do, as well as projecting it, is I spend it in my head. So I decide that due to what happened last month I will have x number of days with both my rooms/one of my rooms being rented, x number of people attending one/both of my workshops. And then I work out what to do with it all.

I had two prospective lodgers planning to come for this winter. So I – worried about where I would put some of my regulars if they choose to book (note they haven’t yet), and also I planned what I would do with this money. Well … one has changed her mind and has decided to stay where she is, the other has not got back to confirm or not. Well I went into meltdown worrying about how I would manage without this money. Without this money I have not yet got!!! Hummm!!

But again, as Brexit looms larger and larger (maybe!), I notice more and more projected expectations being banded about. I am sure they are done with more information than me expecting who is going to rent my rooms/attend my workshops but still there is that “who knows what will happen” factor that our media is reluctant to put in. Yes these are projected but they are not for definite what will happen.

The figures the media are projecting are the opposite to what I project. I projected income, the media is only telling us doom. Whereas I live in optimism, until someone cancels, the media are living in pessimism.

But here is my hope – just as I get it wrong with my income and so get a bit panicky, I hope that the soothsayers who are being published in our media will also get it wrong and things will be better than they say.

(NB – there are people predicting that it will not all be doom and gloom but it seems our Julian_of_Norwichpapers, etc, do not want to let us know that. I heard someone say they were optimistic of our future. You don’t get that in the papers!!!)

And also, as I have discovered with my little business, and with my life that even when things look bad we make it through and as Julian of Norwich said

‘It was necessary that there should be sin (rubbish stuff happening); but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’