Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Not normal but trying

Oh blimey, what a weekend that was!

An informal, fun, family worship time on Saturday afternoon [for which there is a proper trademarked name which the circuit has permission to use, but I don't so I had better not, but you possibly know what I mean] and there were kids having a lot of fun as well as slightly bemused adults wandering about, having a go at all sorts of crafts.  There was a treasure hunt, lots of food and worship - it was brilliant [but hard work!].

Sunday morning I was preaching, and then Sunday afternoon we ran a group for 11-16 year olds, the first in a once a month series. That was very relaxed and great fun, and the kids enjoyed the playing table tennis, board games, crafting and making their own pizzas for tea.  Slight mishap when one of the friends from the church here didn't turn up, which bemused me as she had been keen, and then she walked in with her son at 5.55pm just as we were clearing up - she had times muddled up and thought it was 6-8pm instead of 4-6pm unfortunately!

Image result for call the midwife 2016
(image from telegraph.co.uk)
Call the Midwife is dealing with the harrowing Thalidomide story in this series, and seems to be doing it sensitively and with a very caring ethos - but it is still desperately sad to watch.

By Sunday night, I was only fit for collapsing in front of the tv and enjoying Call the Midwife and Vera, and I had rather a lie in on Monday morning. I managed to work 50% more hours than I am contracted for last week so I am having time off in lieu this week and having less to do - which is a change!  I have had a whole day "off" today, and it has been great to recharge my batteries a bit.

The [sad!] highlight of the day for me was actually hanging a load of washing out on the line and being able to bring it in later, smelling properly fresh and clean with that outdoor smell in it - and then I also managed to get it ironed too - almost unheard of here lately.

Tonight the girls have enjoyed pancakes, and we have heard all about pancake traditions in Denmark and Austria as well as debating for nearly half an hour about the line of succession of the Danish and British Royal families, and the Danish girl asked a rather random question about how the situation of a gay monarch might be handled in either country.......the things that they come out with are never dull.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Normal service

I don't know what has happened but this real life [as opposed to t'internet] has got really manic lately!  Will pop back over the weekend - if I get a minute...I've got a cold, too :(

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Dignity in death

God calls us to some wonderful work, and I am currently working hard on the bereavement part of the project that I have been employed in connection with, even though I haven't said a lot about it lately.

Today I have had the privilege to take our minister to meet with a village lady who is terminally ill, and she knows it. She is well past 80 and has ovarian cancer: she has had a lot of treatment and it has been harrowing for her, but it has been called to a halt now as the tumour has not reacted well enough to the chemotherapy in order for it to be removed.  Whatever the medical teams have thrown at her, the lovely lady has dealt with it all with enormous courage.

The minister and I spent a blessed hour with her this afternoon, and her remembrances of her life as well as her joy in living at this time, right now, are evident. She's able to get out and about, share times of happiness with her friends, come to the knitting group at the chapel occasionally, and enjoy her three cats!  She is aware that she is dying, but she is doing it so well that she is really inspirational. Her attitude is what makes the difference, and the peace which she exudes is not given to everyone in her situation. She is very matter-of-fact about it, and remarked today that she is only doing what thousands of people do every day.   It was a blessing to spend time with her, and to learn from her, to be inspired by her courage, grace and dignity.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Dyeing for a new coat

I haven't dropped off the blogsphere but I have had a busy weekend!  Hope you are all OK in this windy weather which is battering the country again.

Yesterday I was rummaging in my wardrobe and looking to see which coats I could possibly part with, as I have about 8 winter coats - of all kinds - waterproofs, windproofs, smart, gardening, etc - and decided that actually I need them all at the moment!  I have two which are identical except for the colour, as one is blue and the other slate grey.  They are not waterproof but they are thick, quilted cotton coats [sounds weird but they are SO warm] and quite boxy so you can layer up under them.

For a long time, the blue one was a chicken-feeding coat latterly, but it was a smart coat when we were north of the border, because the truth is that the pair of coats are over twenty years old.  The blue one was looking quite faded and tired, so I bought some navy blue dye this morning - and this evening, I have a new coat!  One bag of dye has transformed the coat and a pair of battered jeans, and I am so pleased - now I just need some new buttons for the coat, and all will be as new!

And do you know where the coat came from? Hawkshead, back in the good old days when they sold their own brand of clothes - and I continue to lament their loss!  I sit here wearing Hawkshead cotton/denim-type trousers, and a Hawkshead fleece - I was a real fan, but the fact that I am still wearing them are testament to the amazingly good quality that they sold, and the way that they have lasted is just brilliant. Do you know the best bit? I bought most of the Hawkshead clothing that I own in the sales, too!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Nearly the end of the month

I wonder if you get this too, but since it is nearly the end of the month and folk are getting their salary paid into their bank account, I am getting a few emails with "tempting" offers to splurge on all kinds of things from The Book People to clothing companies, Lakeland and everything in between.

However, I am not being tempted - I have got bills coming in from all directions at the moment: the car is in the garage today for work to the tracking and possibly the suspension as well; the chimney is going to get sorted out this next month, and I have no idea how much that will cost, but it must be done, so I need to be careful.

Good news is that there is no council tax to pay in February and March, so that payment can be put towards other bills, and that helps a little.

I wanted to share a website that I have just come across through a Facebook page I joined. This lady, Miki, has a recipe blog, and she spends only about £30 a week to feed herself and her partner, as well as doing evening meals for older relatives each night - so I think she's doing pretty well.  I've had a quick look through the blog and will be adding it to my blogroll, and her Lentil cottage pie with sweet potato mash is on the menu here tonight as I have got everything in the house to make this for the girls.  I shall be doing some of the other ones from here as well, and I do hope she adds more!

Blogger Jack Monroe has become vegan and she has been sharing some more interesting recipes lately, but since many of them are curries, I am afraid that I shan't be indulging as I don't really like curry!  However, the two EF girls are mad keen, so I shall possibly be trying one or two recipes out on them.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Better day for some

Just passed an online food hygiene course exam with 93% so quite pleased with that, and the boss at work should be pleased too.  Made some lemon muffins today, and have had UJ here as well.

The violinist has succumbed to the flu bug, but she seems to be not as bad as the rest of us were - probably her ultra-healthy lifestyle which puts us to shame!  Off to bed now - see you tomorrow xx

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sad thoughts today

I have been to quite the most upsetting funeral today that I have ever attended.  It was a "community" or "public health" funeral, because, it seems that although the gentleman had family, no one was willing to take responsibility for the funeral arrangements.  Our minister provided the service at the church, and then there was a burial in the village cemetery.  It was at one of "my" churches, so I was asked to attend to support the funeral steward and the minister.

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(image from goodfuneralguide.co.uk)

We didn't really know what to expect, whether anyone would turn up, how it would pan out. It was unexpectedly well-attended as the family are an extensive local clan, but as large families sometimes are, it was rather a disjointed group of factions, and some went to the burial but not on to the pub afterwards, some went to the church and the pub but not the burial, and we believe that some were just going to come on later to the pub.

The heartbreaking part of the funeral for me was that the minister was not able to do the usual talk about the deceased - when and where he had been born, his life, his profession, his family, his hobbies and interests, his contributions, his legacy - because no one in the family had had a good word to say about him: perhaps they felt justified, because he seems to have had a troubled life and not been very kind to many people......but to leave the minister only able to say that the deceased had been a father, grandfather, partner and uncle was a bit of a challenge for our poor chap. He did very well, sharing some thoughts about the scripture passages, and sharing a poem about God's forgiveness, but it was a struggle for him.

From an outsider's point of view, the funeral varied from the more usual ones in that there was no order of service, only one hymn, no eulogy [as I have said], no limo behind the hearse. I understand that the grave will be very simple too. The family had organised flowers, and the coffin was just as most of the others I had seen recently.

This has opened my eyes to a different side of ministry and to how some families can react to death. All the funerals I have been to before have been for someone who has been much loved and will be missed, but this was very different, and I feel the need to reflect upon it for some time before I come to terms with it.  Life really makes you think sometimes, eh?