Friday, 26 February 2016

Moving forward slowly

I wrote ages ago about the widows' ministry we are seeking to develop within my work in the church and you would be forgiven for thinking that we have forgotten all about it.  I haven't. It is bubbling away in the back of my mind, and there are people with whom I have been chatting, websites and books being read, prayers prayed, and God's intentions discerned, we hope.

I have had a really exciting meeting with a widow from another church today - a joint friend set us up and she came over to have lunch with me, although it was our first meeting.  She is lovely and I really feel that we are going to be good friends - there is a bond between widows anyway, I feel, but I felt that we got on well today.  She has an inspiring vision for a ministry for widows on the internet and in local work too, and I would love to join with her and help her to make it happen - with a lot of prayer and careful consideration too.  I've got to talk with the folk at the church here too, but I think it might complement what we are doing here.....and there is room for both.

So, widows out there who read, thank you for those of you who contacted me in the past, and I hope you won't mind if I get in touch with you again, and ask you a few more questions about your experiences. And those of you who are new here, but who might be widows too, would you like to email me, on the email address on the top right there, and share your thoughts - I'd love to know what has helped you in your experience, what you think might have been done better or differently, and any ideas you might have to all stays confidential and nothing gets published anywhere, or publicly discussed.  It just helps me to understand the wealth of wisdom that we have as widows, and the way that we are being supported, or not, and who/which organisations are giving the most helpful support.

As my new friend and I shared today, no one understands a widow as well as another one, and yet every one of us has a slightly different experience, and they are all to be valued, respected and held in a safe space.

Thank goodness times have changed since the days in which we would have been expected to wear clothing like this - but time hasn't made death much easier to talk about in general society. 

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"If you are a widow, know that this is a space for you and that there are those here who understand something [not everything] of how things can be.  We have dealt with the undertakers, made it through the funeral, waded through the paperwork and benefit claims, comforted the children, and started to find a new and different way forward.  Learning to cook for fewer people, having to find out about new responsibilities, getting used to being single again; none of it is easy, and there are some wise women who comment and support one another here. This is a space in which women hold one another up rather than beat one another up, who support and encourage rather than compete and challenge, and who bless one another with patience and peace."

And that is what I want to work towards creating.  What do you think?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

But first

The leadership team is going to ask the circuit to increase my an extra 10 a week, so I shall [if approved] go up to 30 hours a week.

Cue YFG asking me, "How will you cope with that?" to which I replied that I thought a cleaner might be on the cards - so she applied for the job, bless her!

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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

And the next move

When you harbour thoughts of your own, they remain your own until you share them with others. I've shared things with you, but you can't actually do anything about them. A few weeks ago, I shared things with someone who can, and things are happening now.  

I told the Superintendent minister, my boss, that I would like her help to candidate for Methodist ministry.......

She's like a whirlwind. I'm on a day course in two Saturday's time, I have a stack of books to read, and she's organising a mentor.  Blimey! 

I've still got to tell my dad. I think he'll be pleased....I hope so, anyway. 

When I started this blog all those years ago [yes, really - it was years ago!] it was about growing and developing in this life of ours in the Fens. How things change!  You'll have to bear with me if you want to continue on this ride with me - it is still going to be thrifty, cos it can't afford to be anything else now, but it's going to change direction a bit.  

From what I have learned today, this candidating malarkey is hard going.  It is not like applying for a job where you can think about it, quietly fill in an application form and if they don't call you for an interview, well, no one needs to know and we can all carry on as we!  Everyone has to know in this process, which is good, because they can support, encourage and pray, but there is also the concern that if the Connexion reject the offer, everyone will know about the rejection.  Ho hum!

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's what God has been asking me to do for nearly 20 years, so I thought that the time had come to get on with it now!  Prayers and positive thinking welcome.  You lot have seen me through so much, I think you'll probably see me through this as well - thank you x

Tuesday, 23 February 2016


The EFG sent me a link to a website last week, and then the same website popped up in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday - and I think it is worth sharing.

A woman called Tara Button has set up an online shop called "Buy Me Once" in which it is possible to purchase items which are guaranteed to last a lifetime - or they will be replaced by the company which makes them. Brands such as Le Creuset for cook ware and Doc Martens are there, and lots more.  

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My casserole was a lovely shade of Harrods green rather than this fiery orange, but you get the idea!

What a great idea!  We so often end up buying cheap things time and time again and having to replace them when they wear out.  I have had a LeCresuset casserole dish, which is cast iron and probably bullet-proof - and Doc Marten shoes got me through the miles I walked around St Andrews when I was at uni and had only Shank's pony for transport.  Two brands I would recommend for sure.

There are more details about Ms Button and the website here.

There's a "but" in this though- some of these brands do demand a high initial outlay which takes them beyond the average wallet.  But when I consider whether this is a frugal, thrifty, anti-waste strategy, I think that it is. I'd rather save up and buy some good quality shoes from DM than have to continually buy new ones which wear out on a regular basis.  The Clark's boots that I have had for 10 years don't owe me a penny and I am now on the lookout for a replacement pair, so perhaps I'll have to look at another pair of DMs.  I did order a pair but when they arrived, they had some quite hard leather across the front of the ankle which was uncomfortable on me, so I sent those back for a refund, and I haven't looked for any more since then.  That was a design that didn't suit me, so I am not knocking the brand, just that style!

Ladies who belong to a group on FB that I am in have also been sharing how they prefer old furniture, often handed down from previous generations, to buying new stuff.  I have to say as I look around this sitting room that all our furniture here has either been made by the FH or given to us from relatives - apart from one single armchair - so that is good going. A set of four dining chairs and a sofa came from my grandfather's house and are probably heading for their century celebrations!  This kind of furniture is durable, strong, well-made, and it can take a fair bit of bashing too......I love it.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Making it last

I've had an amusing time just lately: apparently the violinist thinks I must be rather hard up because I only work 20 hours a week and she is of the opinion that the reason that I have the students here is because I "need" the money........she hasn't said as much to me, but has shared her thoughts with the Dane, who has shared them with me!  

This seems to have come about because I have objected to the way that the violinist wastes energy.  For a member of the Green Party, she is remarkably profligate with electricity and water, and thinks nothing of boiling the kettle, for example, then forgetting about it and coming back half an hour later and boiling it up again..........and then even forgetting again! Lights are regularly left on and we walk about behind her, flicking them off........ She's young, and doesn't grasp the difference between being hard up and not wanting to waste things.  She'll learn, one hopes.  As for "needing" the money - there is not a lot of profit to be had in this as I am receiving a food grant for them which amounts to £6.80 a day - and that is all. There aren't many places you could lodge with dinner, bed, breakfast and laundry done for that, are there?  You can't put a value on the family atmosphere, either.

As we are in the period of Lent, I am helping with some Lent group meetings, and we have this morning been talking about the differences between "wants" and "needs", and I shared the story I had read somewhere about a rich chap coming across another man eating a lentil-based dish and telling him that if he would become subservient to the King, he would not need to eat lentils. His comrade replied, I imagine with a wink, that if the rich chap would learn to be content with lentils, he would not need to be subservient to the King!

Contentment has a great deal to recommend it, I am finding.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


I have had a day off work today - yay!  A more beautiful spring day you could not have wished for here, AND yes, I am calling it spring because we have seen the first lambs of the season in the fields just outside the village - and that makes spring for me!

A lovely drive and the sun was very hot on the car as we drove so the YFG commented that she would be able to top up her Vitamin D levels at this rate, but I did wonder whether the glass window would be impeding that?  Nevertheless, sunshine has been the order of the day in the Fens - can you tell just how excited I have been about that?  Thank goodness for the odd bit of high pressure coming our way - shame I don't think it will last and the wet and windy stuff will be back soon.

I took the YFG and we popped over to a nearby town and watched "Dad's Army" courtesy of the Tesco Clubcard vouchers, and then we went on to my dad's house for a couple of hours chatting over a cup of tea.

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The film was hilarious and we really enjoyed it.  It had some of my favourite senior actors showing off their skills, such as Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, and Bill Paterson. Then there were the younger chaps who were just as funny - the YFG nudged me a couple of times as I was laughing too much for her liking!  Catherine Zeta Jones was good but the other female actresses like Sarah Lancashire and Alison Steadman were also brilliant.  

The plot line is a little obvious but the costumes and sets seemed to be great, and it was just a good afternoon's outing.  When we got to my dad's and were telling him about it, he sounded intrigued and thought he might have to take his friend George and go to see it - that I would like to see!!

The YFG is revising hard for mock AS level exams in the first two days when she goes back to school next week, so she had her nose back to the grindstone this evening. A bit of an outing has done us both good though - and we have really enjoyed it.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Four single women

So it's Valentine's Day today and there are four single females in this house who are not in the thrall of this particular love feast.  The Dane went to the city yesterday and was amused to see that the Card Factory shop had a line of men waiting to get in the door, as did Pandora - last minute shopping at its best, obviously!  She noticed that there weren't a lot of women in panic mode.  She also had a meal in a little cafe, and was a bit bewildered to see the stares of the couples in the booths around her - she was fine going to the shops on her own, and having a meal but apparently, those eating around her in cosy couples were a little uncomfortable with her there.

So it hasn't cost us a penny to celebrate, because we aren't!  My Facebook feed has had some local floristry establishments advertising bouquets and bunches of roses at astronomical prices, and there have been ads on the radio for Aldi, which is also selling a wide range of Valentine's flowers, at slightly more reasonable prices.  The FH and I used to exchange the occasional card in the early years, but we didn't really do much latterly - it was more about every day things than a huge declaration on one day of the year.

And actually, there is so much more to life than romantic love, isn't there? There's loving our children, our relatives, our parents, our friends and neighbours, our communities, our church families,  and even our enemies, as Jesus said.  Some are more challenging than others!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Opening up

This week has been a real eye-opener in several ways!  I worked too many hours last week and was only supposed to do about 10 this week, but struggled to do that few and ended up with 14 on the time sheet......well, if there's work to be done, I do like to get on with it!  But I had a lovely day "off" on Tuesday and then worked my socks off Wednesday and Thursday - and then had another day pottering at home today - it is a good way of doing things!

It's been all about deliveries today - a parcel from Aberdeen from the EFG including some books she has read and wants returned to her bedroom shelves, a pair of earrings she bought very cheaply but doesn't want so sent them for the YFG and I to fight over [no, not really - the YFG has them], some more sock wool from Hobbycraft for me, and a disposable camera that she would like me to get developed.  A parcel from Amazon was next to arrive - we are having a circuit study group around "Gratitude" this year, and are using Ann Voskamp's Study DVD so several ladies have asked for copies of her book, One Thousand Gifts.  I had to order two more copies, and they arrived today so that I can give them to the ladies on Sunday.  And then there was a Sainsbury's delivery, and a pair of trousers for the YFG for school wear........good job I didn't plan to be out much today!

I've also done some baking today too - a loaf of bread for the EF girls, who love wholemeal bread with lots of seeds, some cheese scones and some cinnamon swirls.  The kitchen has been warm and smelled really welcoming this afternoon - just what I love!  And I had washing on the line.

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Not today's but some of these just the same

And I have spent time thinking a lot about a wonderful lady who shared a terrible story of a lifetime of abuse with me last night.  She's a lovely lady who opened up to me and it all came out in about 20 minutes, and left me quite shocked.  Part of my job is walking alongside and listening to stories as people are led to share them with me, but that came out of the blue last night. Thankfully, I was able to listen in a supportive way and offer the right kinds of words but all the time, I wanted to cry.  I didn't, and neither did she, but oh, blimey, the things that God gives me to do.......she's in my prayers.

It is so nearly daffodil time again - there are glimpses of yellow already on the banks of the river

Breathing a sigh of relief that it is half term here now and the girls can take some rest and have a tiny bit of downtime, although the YFG has mock exams straight after the break so she will be revising. She has taken the night off and is at a friend's house, where they are having a Chinese meal, having a bonfire and playing some card games.

Really longing for the better weather to come now!

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!

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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!