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!!

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.

Encouragement

 

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My son putting up our Christmas tree. I was sat taking photos and encouraging 🙂

I’ve been looking at encouragement a lot. I am a natural encourager so I do see places to encourage, places where people have encouraged others and also where it does not happen.

For the last two years, which means it has now become a tradition, the little drama group I coordinate  in at our church do a skit on something related to Christmas. The first year we did 4 disgruntled people at Christmas and how they had lost the meaning of the season – a frustrated housewife, a mad granny who was knitting Christmas, a selfish teenager and an overworked vicar. Last year we did a mother and daughter who had fallen out over something trivial and weren’t speaking and needed Jesus’s reconciliation. This year we are looking at Mary and how the angel and, her cousin. Elizabeth supported and encouraged her.

It has been an interesting development with the little group. I feel we have all gone, as people, from being slightly disgruntled with church and life in general,  to being reconciled with life, church, ourselves, etc. The way, I think,  it has happened is by encouraging each other. This group would not happen if our vicar didn’t expect something from us – which actually is encouraging in and of itself – but that we also all buoyed each other up and encouraged each other. Each of us has a different role and we all give the others the freedom to be who they are.

As I reflect on encouragement myself I think of how my life is changing for next year with my writing life become more central. There are a few people who have encouraged that but the big one has been when, on the Cinnamon writing retreat Jan, who runs Cinnamon Press, said she wanted to mentor me and my writing. To be mentored properly I cannot just have my writing as something I dip in and out of when I want to – or rather not when I want to but when I let all the other things that crowd my life butt out. I have to take it seriously and have to give it the time. Cinnamon then ran a competition for

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Books in my study for reading and researching as I start on my writing project

bursaries which I bravely entered. I came equal second!! Another amazing encouragement. So because of this I am giving up a lot of things and concentrating on what I have always dreamed of doing since I was about 12 years old. It has taken me 45 years to get to this point but I am now here.

Even with that I could put myself down and think of all the wasted time but I will encourage me and say now is the time to seize the day. Carpe diem.

Going back to Mary in the Bible. We often talk of how amazing she was – and yes she was – but she was able to be amazing by the encouragement and support she got not just from God via the angel but from her cousin, Elizabeth. So I will finish this post as I will finish the skit we are going later on by saying: (and go with this even if you don’t believe in God. Substitute “God” for whatever works for you)

Mary and Elizabeth were so excited about being able to support and encourage each other so should we be that excited about supporting and encouraging each other.

We will often find ourselves in situations we can’t cope with on our own and need to remember God’s promises but also need others to remind us who God is and what He says.

So this Christmas time let’s stand together and support each other and then be amazed at what we can do

The Gorse Bush Analogy

Gorse bushes are a bit like life. They can stick with you long after the event!

We were out walking on Conwy Mountain and I slipped. For some reason I chose to grab gorse busha gorse bush to steady myself. Not the best idea. I squealed. My hand went all numb and tingly like it had been poisoned. I poured some water over it and all seemed fine. A week later part of my hand started to throb. My husband graciously used his first aid skills and found bits of gorse bush spikes in my hand! For a week these little spikes kept making their way to the surface of my hand and often had to be dug out. Even now, nearly a month later, my hand is still sore in places and rough where the spikes were gentle encouraged out. But it made me think about how like life this is.

Often things happen to us – we trip, something hurts us, we move on and think we’re fine. Then something else happens and we feel a hurt, a pain, that is not quite related to what is going on. This is because the previous hurt has got deep inside of us and, even though we cannot see it, it is still inside of us.

I wrote on Medium – another blog type site I have started using – something along those line. Read it on Path of Least Resistance and if you like what you have read hold the little path-of-least-resistanceclap hands down for up to 50 clicks. But as you read you’ll see if is from something that is embedded in my childhood that is having an affect on me many years in the future.

Yesterday I saw a dead seagull in the road as I was walking the dog and I sobbed. It was a young seagull and it was flat. We have loads of seagulls here and they nest in the chimney pots and the parents will swoop on passersby! I didn’t cry for the seagull though but for those I have loved and lost, for others who are going through grief at the moment and also because that uncared for death struck something deep inside of me that maybe I can’t even quite explain. It was a gorse thorn that was embedded in me that wanted to get out. I didn’t have time to write or journal about it because I was rushing off out. But later that day I was at a gathering of well-being providers and we were “selling our wares” and so I shared it when explaining about writing for well-being and how I run a course.

Even that passing dead bird had become embedded. Often when I explore in blogs I think of sad things but I think that is because they are the things that get embedded into us that we do not see. I will bring out the lovely times of my life regularly to share with my friends and family but the sad, unhappy, confusing times I hide away keeping them hidden from view. I wonder if that is just a British thing or do all societies do that? Is it just a human thing?

handsSomeone once said you need 10 encouraging comments to balance out one bad one. And also that it is easier to pull someone down and off a chair than it is to pull someone up on to it. Maybe that is why the negative, painful things get lost in our skin and then worm their way to the surface? But actually, on a positive finish, if we keep to the gorse thorn analogy, then eventually they will work their way to the surface where some kind and gracious person can pull them out for us. [Note I could not pull it out myself because the hand I had used to save myself was the hand I use to do things with]

 

The Moorside

I watched the BBC drama The Moorside on iplayer, based on the disappearance and refinding of Shannon Matthews, a 9 year old girl who’s mother reported her missing and 94221540_moorside-metrothen 24 days later she was found staying at the home of her mother’s partner’s uncle. All the way through, because of knowing the story, it  appears obvious that the mother knows something more than she is saying, but most of the estate rally behind one of the women who organises searches, poster and t-shirt campaigns, marches and all sorts to keep the media focused on this little girl from the poor estate.

Thing turn horrid when it comes to light that the mother knew where her daughter was. It is interesting that the mother’s partner has been arrested for viewing child porn and there is the implication that he has been abusing the children, yet the estate turns on the mother calling her a “lying bitch” for the worry and upset she put them threw when, for whatever reason, she did not tell the truth that she knew where her daughter was.

The mother was a weak, sad, slightly mentally backward person, who had been abused all her life, rejected by her parents, and gone from different man to different man who used and her abused her. Maybe she did take her daughter to a safe place because she knew her 2016-01-26-1453834070-2415422-mentalhealth1present partner was abusing her but was not strong enough to say. Who knows. In one scene during two of the close friends of the mother are sat in the park and both say that they were abused but it is said in a matter of fact way; one saying you had to get over it and move on, the other saying she did report her father but only because he was remarrying and she wanted to project the children of his future wife. But it was just a very normal thing. It left me wondering how many people on that estate had been abused or where abusers and so reacted as they did.

There was a lot of showing mob rule and of it being all or nothing. But it was not just the people on the estate who were like that. When the mother was prosecuted the lawyer who gave the statement to the press said she was “pure evil.” No she wasn’t. She was a sad, weak, simple woman who had made a mistake and was taken advantage of and never told the truth. She never did tell the whole truth. And as psychiatrists are realising now there are people with borderline personality disorders who find truth a very strange concept.

12afa4a6d1d378e24725c1fb0fffe132Yes she did have mental health problems but she was not evil. What it left me feeling was how we are into this all or nothing. Trump is all evil or all mad or all something. Everything is in or out, good or bad. It is all or nothing mob rule and I believe The Moorside was showing just that through the tale of a young misused woman and an estate full of people who were lost and no longer knew their way.

2015 in review

A big Thank you to all who read my blog. Much as I do it to just write it is so encouraging to know what I write is read and commented on. Thank you and see you in 2016 Xx

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

View Point

I know I’ve written about how we can view the world before but today it struck me again just how we view our world via how we want to see it. Take tonight, I have had a really crazy day at work, had to walk the dog first thing this morning in the dark and then when I got home in the dark again. I’ve got a choice! I can lumber round the field grumbling or I can enjoy it. Both times, even tonight with aching feet and legs, I decided to enjoy it. My  little dog enjoys it. He is just pleased to be running around outside with me. He chases leaves in the dark, finds his dog friends in the dark, and is generally happy. Also I could decide to be scared of every little movement, be scared of the dark, but I know my field. I know where it is safe to walk without falling over things, where it is flat, what to avoid. I enjoyed watching the car headlights flickering across the hedges, the lights in the sky, this morning the sun trying to get up. It was good. And it makes me day good.

I suppose what set this one off was that on the weekend my mother-in-law said that this year would be the first year ever she had had to decide what to cook for Christmas dinner. She was 70 in September. It use to be her husband who did it but he had now been dead 2 Christmases, and then his brother would choose for her and he died in January this year. There is a choice here – to say ok that’s how it is, to say how awful that this year she has to choose, or to say how great it is that for 70 years she’s never had to choose. I found myself wanting to get angry because for 36 years I’ve either had to choose what I ate for Christmas dinner or where I went. I could feel a resentfulness rising. But then I realised that I have a choice too. I could be resentful. That’s my choice. Or I could say that’s just how it is, or I could be grateful that I have had so much opportunity to choose.

None of these things are right ways or wrong ways of thinking. And again that’s a choice. We could very easily say that this was the right way to think and this was wrong but why? But even that is a choice.

So even though my legs ache and I am so tired that for the last half hour I’ve been playing games on my laptop rather than writing I can decide that today has been a good day. Why? Just because it is  and that is my worldview today.