Friday, 20 May 2011

Happy Dog

One large baked beef marrowbone presented to Toki this evening.  He was so excited he shook!  He's been in the garden for 20 minutes now munching on this and there's no sign of him wanting to come in.  This must be the equivalent of a five year old being given the biggest ice-cream ever!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Rundown Days

I often get people asking me how I cope with having four kids, house to run, church things, commuting to work, working outside the home, fitting in a social life, doing shopping, etc and sometimes the answer is quite simple.  I don't always cope.  I get days where I'm so utterly exhausted I don't know what to do with myself.  Sometimes it's not physical exhaustion, but mental meltdown from having to shuffle so much information, remember who has to be where and when, who needs what, what needs to be paid to whom, how much they want, when do they want it by, what form needs to be handed in, who needs what sports kit today, who's at after school club, who needs picking up, who's walking home, what's for dinner, what e-mails are more urgent, has that staff member got their pay rise, has the translation for this letter been received, has this manager got enough money to pay that contractor, what time is it in Kirkee so I can speak to a technical manager on tour about something, have I filled in the information on this database, have I returned medical certificates to regional offices because they're written in Arabic and I can't understand a word that's written, what time am I leaving work today, is there enough petrol in the car, do I have a babysitter for tonight, is the washing done, has the dog been walked, have the pets been fed, are the clothes on the kids bedroom floor there because they're dirty or are the kids too lazy to put them away, have I replied to that birthday invitation one of them brought home yesterday, have I read my Bible today, have I prayed today ........

Life.  Just plain ordinary busy hectic life.  But some days it gets too much and I wake up feeling totally overwhelmed.  Headaches start, I get short tempered and snarky with the people around me I love and they take the brunt of my vain attempts to do it all under my own strength, despite me having a wonderful husband who does so much to help and often tells me to stop worrying about things.  So, today I'm off work, because I'm feeling a bit grotty and run down.  But instead of vegging in front of the television I've decided to use some time to be a Mary, rather than a Martha and I'm already feeling a little uplifted.  I'll be blogging more on My Martha, My Mary over the next few days as I really feel that God has given me a good talking to over the last couple of weeks and I'm starting to find my balance.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Expectation and Fulfillment

Andy told me earlier this week he was going to a Desktop Virtualisation Seminar. To the IT geeks out there I presume this is something to get excited about. He loves all things tecchie. I'm pretty hopeless in that department and as long as something can be turned on, used and turned off again, I'm happy. I won't even begin to try and understand what this seminar is about. 

I had visions of him being stuck in a stuffy airless room, surrounded by technonerds all speaking in trainspotter voices, rapidly blinking as they manually downloaded the information to their brains.  I felt a bit sorry for him.

Until he sent these pictures to my e-mail account at work.  Venue:  Kensington Rooftop Gardens.  Complete with four flamingoes named Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks.  He hasn't mentioned the seminar at all, but he's enjoying the surroundings.  It's just a shame the sun isn't shining more for him as it looks a beautiful place.

When I was pondering my expectations of his day out of the office, my thoughts were brought to Hebrews 11v40.  When God's faithful people of the Old Testament stood firm in their hope and faith that He would fulfill his promises of something better, they lived in expectation that God would send their saviour.  In the New Testament Paul speaks to the Hebrew Christians exorting the fact that what they have received is the fulfilment of those promises in the form of Jesus Christ which is so much better than the unfilled covenant of their forefathers. 

So expectation of something good is one thing, but receiving it is quite another.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Grasping independence

My eldest son, Joshua, 12, is a smart kid.  Having gone online last week and wheeled and dealed his way around the Internet finding a mobile phone contract deal that would undercut the current ones I held for him and his sister, he managed to find a way of getting them both a brand new smart phone each that had all the gadgets they desired, for less than I was currently spending each month.  Having previously told him that an upgrade was out of the question as I was not prepared to spend more money, I found myself having to concede to his request as he quite rightly pointed out my fears were unfounded and that I'd actually make a saving.

As a parent I could have reacted two ways.  One is that I could have got angry that he continued to pursue something I'd originally said no to and punished him.  Or, as I chose, I could have held back and allowed him to rise to the challenge and make his own discoveries.

I'm glad I did.  With his perseverance and for being sensible, gathering the facts in, making sure the tariffs were correct, working out Internet bolt ons, researching through the current provider what his current text and talk usages were, he could compare differing offers and make an informed choice about which level of contract would suit him.  He wasn't greedy, he didn't demand extra applications and he even made sure he stayed with the same network so calls between family remained free of charge.

The money issue itself was not my main concern.  My children know we have limited budgets for some things, tight budgets for others, miracles in waiting for some things and variable budgets for others.  We've tried over the years to be honest with them about money and spending and to search for good deals, not to be tempted into impulse buying, not to be sucked into the latest craze and to analyse whether they'll really use something. So to see my son actively and quite naturally using these criteria for obtaining something he desired was wonderful to see.  It showed me he's growing up wisely, that he's thinking things through analytically before making decisions and it's confirming to me that he is listening to us when we try to advise him.  As a parent it's uplifting to see your child make wise decisions, not just because a yes or no option has been put before them, but because they've taken an idea and developed it.

There are times he does things for me because I don't understand how to use them, or he explains how something is made or how it works.  Usually with a big cheeky smile on his face and a roll of the eyes because my level of ability is at 'muppet' level.  There are a lot of times he's just the boy he is, but I'm confident that as he grows, and as time goes on, I'll have to let go a little more each time and allow him to take hold of opportunities.  This week it was just a mobile phone, but it won't be long before those choices become more complex and he'll be able to take life with both hands and get the best value out of it he can.

Oh, and their phones arrived yesterday.

Monday, 9 May 2011

What if ...?

So much of life is full of what ifs?  Usually coupled with regret and missed opportunity, leaving us swimming in a soup of disillusion and peering ahead with little hope for the supposedly great thing we missed.  I try not to have too many what ifs now.  Well, not backward, hopeless ones, but more forward thinking, opportunistic ones.  I suppose it could be viewed as risk taking rather than optimistic what iffing.  So, where's the harm in a little risk taking?  Does taking risks expose you as a flippant, nonchalant and spontaneous person with little regard for responsibility and consequence, or does it generate an inner core of you that expels great confidence, hope and trust in those things to come?

I often think about why people just don't believe in Jesus and His resurrection.  Look at all the cuckoo crazy stuff some people are passionate about.  Diversity awareness and acceptance of all modern quirks and idiosyncrasies are drummed into us, so why are people so cautious and sceptical about God, Jesus and all things in the Bible?  What are people REALLY afraid of?  I'd like to think the real reason they're hesitant or dismissive is that they have the little what ifs floating around their head.  What if people think I'm a loony believing in somebody that you can't see?  What if evolution is the source and destructive force of the Earth?  What's the point in me believing I'm going somewhere better if there's nowhere else?  What if I'm not good enough? What if I'm beyond saving?  What if I fail and muck things up?  What if my family disown me or my friends tease me?   So, here's my limited take on a sample of little, but obstructive what ifs that people have posed to me over the years when they've questioned my faith.

What if God really does exist?  What if we're so restricted in our intelligence that we simply just can't comprehend the notion of omnipresence?  When new species are found, we see them and accept they were always there, so why is the barrier of sight and proof so prevalent amongst us?  What makes some of us blind to Him, and what opens the eyes of others?

What if God really did create man and woman?  Scientists can now grow body parts from stem cells.  We know they can do it.  They can create a whole out of a part.  So what stops us believing that God created a whole man from the parts of the world He'd already created before that?  Who's to say that the vital components of a human being weren't already part of creation and that God just put them together?

What if Eve was really tempted and really did eat of the fruit and there really was a serpent possessed by Satan?  If we're taking a risk on believing in God here and God is love, it stands that we have to accept the presence of an oppositional force - evil.  How is that evil represented?  If good and love are represented in the form of a being, then evil must be too.  We know that good and evil exist. Doesn't it stand to reason that at the first sight of something good, evil will try to find a way in?  We see Satan at the beginning of the Bible, he doesn't wait around before having a go.  In the same way now, Satan uses deceit and lies to deceive people into believing God isn't real.  Isn't it strange that Satan's existence itself is invisible, yet people are ready to believe someone can be possessed by Him, yet struggle to believe and accept that somebody can have the spirit of God living in them? 

What if God did part the Red Sea and lead his people out of slavery?  If God made the sea, then He surely has the power to rule its tides, motion and current.  If He can suspend Sun in space and orbit planets perfectly around it, then holding a bit of sea back is not too difficult.  We've seen the devastation of a tsunami.  We know the sea can draw back on itself and then surge.  So why is it hard to believe that God drew the sea back in order to save His people?

I could go on forever with my what ifs.  So really what I'm saying is to look closely at the reasons many people struggle to accept the presence and love of Christ and to delve into what's REALLY holding them back.  All too often there is an answer and one that's simpler than we thought.