Sunday, 24 July 2011

Wise Women and my Great Auntie

Sarah at Emerging Mummy has written this post recently.  It got me thinking about my Great Auntie.  In her latter days we would occasionally visit her in her retirement flat in the South of England.  Her life story is largely unknown to me now, and if I did know I have forgotten.  She was a formidable lady and not to be messed with.  If she didn't agree with you then you would know about it but she loved God and people.

I know that after the death of her father she lived with various relatives and was split up from her siblings.  Her sister, my Nanny ended up in Ireland but Auntie stayed in England and eventually trained as a Nurse and Midwife.  Around the age of 55 she left the comforts of these shores to serve her God in Pakistan; in a School that now boasts its own website!  In 1974, she started a 20 year stint that only came to an end because of her heart problems.  She was a long way from hospitals and didn't want to be a burden to others when she got her pace-maker.  She returned to the UK and served God for a further 10 years here.

When she died my mum cleared out her flat and found a very long hand-written description of one of her journeys home.  (It was hard to read as unlike her sister, my Nanny, her writing was not that clear!)  She travelled overland from Pakistan via the Kyber Pass to Kabel ; Kandahar; the Iranian Border; Tehran; Ankara and Istanbul through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Italy then onto Paris, Calais and across to Folkstone.  She landed in the UK during a train strike!  Mum thinks this journey was made around 1977 when she was nearly 60 years old!  The last words in her account were "It was good to get here - although sometimes I felt I was in a dream - I thank God for His overruling care and love through it all."

My Great Auntie is no longer here to ask questions about her further adventures, and when she was here I didn't know the extent of what she had done and wasn't interested.  I need to draw inspiration from her and learn to serve God and people in the same way.  I need to stand up to my many fears and take some of her courage.  She prayed faithfully and read her bible like her life depended on it (which it did!).

Thanks Sarah for causing me to think of this remarkable lady.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Forgiveness and the Image of God

This is a fascinating story.  One of immense pain and suffering, brought about by inhumanity to fellow men brought about by ignorance.  It is also one of amazing forgiveness in the face of a horrific act.  As a Christian I can learn from this news item.

I believe that I have been forgiven much by a all-powerful God; I know that the punishment for sin has been dealt with in Jesus, His death and resurrection.  Surely, if this is true then some of the forgiveness that Rais Bhuyian has shown Mark Stroman should be evident in my heart, mind and behaviour to those who have hurt me.  I should be more forgiving and willing to work alongside people for the good of others. It should be evident in the way I deal with fellow believers.

What about the Christian Church as a whole?  What does a story like this teach us?  It should be there when we find things difficult.  We should be able to deal with people who don't agree with us in a way which shows the tolerance that Christ has with us.  Christians should be able to sort out their difference in a loving, calm and patient manner. It should be evident in a way Christians deal with world situations.  We should be the most forgiving people living on this planet, it should be in our DNA!  I have read some awful stuff written by Christians in response to September 11th and the ensuing conflicts. It has made me ashamed.  Christianity is a religion that should be full of grace and forgiveness to all.  (I understand the need for repentance and a 'go and sin-no more approach as well but this is not the purpose of this post.)

Another lesson from this news item is that all men and women are made in the image of God, it was the Fall of humans that corrupted something that was perfectly beautiful.  However, this story tells us that remnants of it potentially remain in all of us.  As a Christian I believe that both men in this story are on the right track and would enter into a full humanity (as God originally intended) through a relationship with Jesus.  I believe I can learn from both of them. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I finally did it!

I managed to develop a back bone and begin the process to change Driving Instructor.  My (now) previous one was doing nothing to build my confidence in driving.  Her teaching style and my learning style just weren't compatible.  I have known this for a very long time but had a weird sense of loyalty to her.  I was supposed to have a Driving Test this week which she encouraged me to cancel because 'You will fail!' 'You aren't up to it.'  I still had a lesson with her and the tipping point was her pointing out that we would have lessons over the summer, she would assess me and then see if she would allow me to use her car to take my next booked test.  I was incredibly discouraged and realised that I couldn't learn under those circumstances and needed someone who will accommodate my nervousness about driving and build confidence in the ability I have.

This morning I phoned her up and told her I was reassessing my driving and would no longer need her services.  I also pointed out that I felt discouraged after every lesson and wondered if I would ever pass my test.  She seemed completely underwhelmed  by me giving her the boot.  I have already made enquiries with another Instructor and may take an Assessment Lesson with him in order to have a second opinion.  If he is so disparaging I will take the hint and give up.  But not yet.

Either way, once driving is out of the way I have to find my bucket list and see what is next on the list of things to tackle.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

I love the sea

I have always known that I love the sea but I hadn't realised how much until recently.  Today, my daughters and I went Body-boarding.  It was our eldest daughter's birthday on Wednesday and we wanted to give her a bit of a birthday feel today. 

My husband suggested going to the beach to play cricket.  The girls liked that idea.  However, usually we get to the beach and they want to go into the sea, so today we packed wetsuits and body-boards.  Thankfully, all last year's wetsuits are still OK.  (We do need to buy my husband one but that will be a job for another day!)  We drove to a nearby seashore which has a beautiful beach, life guards and great surf.  On arrival the sea was a long way up the beach but we still managed to find enough space for our stuff.  The girls and I finished getting ready and hit the waves.  We had a great time; although they despaired that I couldn't ride the waves correctly..  'No mummy, like this' was a constant cry.   I managed to catch a few great waves and the feeling was fantastic. 

After what seemed like 10 minutes, but was in fact nearly 40 we got out as we were all hungry.  We had a picnic on the beach after changing into dry clothes.  Half the beach still managed to find its way into our belongings.

As I look out into our garden now it is a good sight to see three wetsuits drying on the line and a jumble of pink 'beach shoes' strewn across the patio.  I hope it is a regular thing that my girls and I can do together.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Home is where the heart is.

I have come to know the true meaning of that phrase in the past 3 years, for that is how long we have lived in this part of England.

We moved here and were promptly plunged into a deep grief with the loss of our friend from our previous church.  This came at the end of a long period of stress (although my parents don't believe there is such a thing but that is a blog for another day!)  It had taken the best part of 6 months to pray and decide whether to move and then we had to say a long drawn out goodbye to our previous church, school and home.

Starting a new place with such a deep sadness doesn't make settling in easy.  Neither did the 6 months of perpetual rain, the fact that everything was just so different or that we made some decisions that were too hasty!  I struggled for 2 years to feel any warmth for my new home or church.  Although last summer I had my eyes truly opened to the beauty of my county. 

During this past year I have worked in a place that for the most part has been wonderful.  I enjoy my job and have learnt so much.  I have also felt more at home at church and have found some great friends.

Anyway, last weekend, we went away with our previous church.  It was lovely, I thoroughly enjoyed being with old friends but during the weekend I realised that my heart is no longer there.  I didn't feel part of that church family in the way that I once did.  I love the people (they will always be friends) but I also discovered that there are now people in my new church and home that I love. 

I realised that my heart is here.  I still get frustrated with a lot of things but I don't want to go back to the familiar.  Actually here is the familiar; God is showing us how to be and serve Him.  I couldn't go back to living away from the seaside either (I am desperate to master body-boarding).  I love that I discovered that if I cut my hair it would grow again.  I am so proud I have become a runner and have entered a race.  I have also learnt to drive (and hope soon to have passed my test!)  Here is where I have learnt that you can be a working mum and a rift doesn't form in the space/time continuum!  I have discovered that I can use the Internet in my learning about God and theology.  I have made some wonderful new friends.

To use another phrase, made famous by Paul Young, 'Whereever I lay my hat, that's my home.'