October 1, 2014

Reflections on two years

For some years I've wanted to make a difference, a big difference, in the world for good. That to justify my existence I had to, otherwise what was the point of being alive? So I took a shot at it...and came to a conclusion. There is no justification, there is no point. I exist merely because God wanted me to exist. He wants me to live, and go about my life and He just delights in being with me, in our relationship, and that's that. He's not fussed about my doing remarkable things, that's not why He chose to make me. Whatever I do on this earth will always be of minimal importance to God compared to His happiness with me as a person, as myself.

Another one of the most important (to me at least) things I came away with after my 2 years of church work is: my imperfection and sin didn't stop God from using me to do His will. I did 'good' things for the wrong motives, with a bad attitude, or without giving them much attention. So every time someone said how much I helped them, I felt ashamed, because I know how imperfect I was/am and how little I really did for them.

At the end I felt that because of that I had failed. I hadn't been a very 'good Christian'...or even a very good person, if you could see my heart. On the outside I looked fine, but I could see on the inside.

And then I remembered that God knows the future...He already knew I was going to do everything exactly the way I did...That I was a lousy person to choose. That I'd mess up. And He chose me. So I began to understand that God doesn't look for perfect, flawless people to do His work. He will work through cracked vessels. He doesn't see into my heart and cross me out as useless, His strength and righteousness are big enough for us both.

June 22, 2014

The bee's knees

If one has to die, there are worse ways than doing it in the middle of a big peony. I came outside to sit in the garden a bit this evening and found this bee breathing his last. I suppose even bees come to the end of their lives...and as I said, there are worse ways to go.
The Dying Bee

On Wednesday it was suddenly decided at work that I would be sent to the Lake District to film the church weekend away. After moaning to everyone who would listen I then packed my kit and headed off to the Lake District... And had quite a good time! :) Got the best of both worlds! ;) Not that anyone was giving me sympathy for having to go to the Lakes, but still...

I don't know if anyone else saw the weekend from my point of view. I was there and not there, as it were. Most of it I saw through the eye of a lens, and therefore looked at the world differently, perhaps more objectively?

I suppose the biggest event (of many!) of the weekend was The Walk (drum roll please). I chose the 'medium' walk over the 'easy' or 'long', as did most others. Now, to the British 'medium' means 4 hours...up and down hills. No wonder they once ruled the world.

After driving along 'the scenic route' (to get to the foot of the hills) we eventually wormed our way along the 10 foot high hedges that line the roads and arrived at Low (Something) Farm, where we paid the farmer 3 pounds per car for parking and use of the outhouse. We headed out strong, an army of some 60? people, all ages. Armed with rucksacks full of sandwiches and water we headed up the 451 foot high Catbells hill overlooking the Lakes.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Four hours later the troops trickled back in...not exactly beaten, but having sustained heavy losses.

Now, I'd headed off to the Lakes without a means to get home, counting on someone there having a free space in the car that had hitherto gone unnoticed or unclaimed. Everyone was full of faith that I'd find a ride, and I had other things to worry about it, so I didn't worry about it as much as one might think. Once there I scouted some options, trying to find a car that wasn't too full and cramped...and lo and behold, I was actually offered a lift from someone I didn't even ask! Amazing. I'm still trying to work it out. It ranks high with the time that a guy of about 23 that I hardly know asked me to dance at a ceilidh. Just doesn't fit with most of my life experiences, ie kindness from disinterested men who are neither family nor particularly close friends.

So that was the weekend...In other news, my brother has been blasting my reputation and self-importance with his monthly email update to friends and family. He covers the variety of jobs I didn't get and my feelings on the matter. If anyone is shouting my feelings to the world I'd rather it were I, hence yon blog.
I thought about asking him to stop including me in his family updates but I decided if he stopped mentioning me people would think there was something to hide...perhaps I had moved in with a one-eyed gypsy mass murderer or somesuch. Speculation is always worse than truth. So I'll just let him put me down as a frustrated job seeker, it's less disreputable.

The N. Irish contingent is coming round to mine this week. I mentally analyzing why I like them so much...It's not just because they're good looking...I think it's because they invite me round to their house and take the trouble to cook for me and try to make sure I and the other guests are engaged in conversation and fed. So yeah, I think it's how polite and attentive they are. I'm a bit rubbishy about attending to my guests I'm afraid...I'm always trying to juggle different dishes when they arrive and have a tendency to tell them to 'sit quietly and amuse themselves' until dinner's ready. Sigh.

April 26, 2014

Spring update

So Spring is here...apparently. It's only 11 degrees Celsius today (52 degrees Fahrenheit) and the landlord has decided it's time to turn off the heating. Well, next time I'll know to ask who controls the heating before I decide whether or not to rent.

Still, as far as flowers go, Spring is definitely here! The streets are awash with falling petals from magnolia trees and flowering trees of various kinds, not all of which I recognize. The crocuses and daffodils have come and gone already but the tulips are still making a last stand.

I've just come back from a lovely 4 days in London with friends. We walked all over London, had coffee & cakes at Selfridges (now made famous by the TV series). Just as well I never came across the shoe department...apparently it's the largest in the world...And then we ate more cakes from Fortnum and Mason's in Green Park. But if I had to choose, I'd take cakes from Harrods. And I'm not paid to say that. :)

There was a huge queue/line for the British Museum, But a trip to London isn't complete without visiting the British Museum. And I love to revisit the mummy rooms, peek again at the Sutton Hoo burial finds, the Lewis chessmen, the Rosetta Stone, and the cuneiform clay tablets from the 7th century BC. They had an interesting one of the flood, with a map where the ark was supposed to have landed. Here's the link, if you're interested in looking at it: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/t/the_flood_tablet.aspx

This is only part of the queue, it stretched outside the grounds and around the block.
We did loads of other things as well, which would bore you to have me list, the only really interesting thing being that we saw Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre (which is a lot less grand than the theatre opposite, despite its posh name).
I have four more months left on my work contract. I'm torn between counting the days...and dreading what will come next as I really don't have a clue about my future. There are very few jobs that interest me enough to apply for...Actually I've only applied for 2 jobs here so far. One of which I know I didn't get and the other I've just sent off. So we shall see! I'd quite like to stay in England, if possible, but I'm not sure what God's plan is yet. My two goals are: to find a job, and to have a good attitude and work conscientiously at the job I have currently.

October 29, 2013

God's actual goal

"And so the time of trial in which we are now living will last just as long as it takes to attain this, God's actually goal. That means for each of us the length of time it will take to learn genuinely the lesson that God has now assigned us. For man in his natural state this is not easy; yet everything depends on not evading God's teaching, but willingly accepting everything that he sends us. Everything comes from his hands and not at all from those of man; every day anew God is ready with his aid, both material and spiritual, for those who really trust in him."

Letter by unnamed author in WWII Germany - 'Dying We Live'

October 11, 2013

The battle with Mould begins!

I think 'mold' should definitely be spelled the British way, 'mould'...it seems more mouldy with an extra vowel...and you'd get more points in Scrabble. 

I feel I'm on the way to happiness and content at home now that my dehumidifier has arrived. It looks like it's collected about 3/4 cup of water so far today. Not sure if that's a lot or not...Seems pretty decent going tho'.

In anticipation of a dryer house I scrubbed the bathroom down to get rid of existing mould so we (the house and I) could have a fresh start. So we'll see what happens in the next month.

Also, I put pressure on my landlord (as far as someone raised in 'Minnesota nice' actually CAN put pressure on someone) and he's finally turned on the heating! Ahhhhh! 50F/10C outside and nice and toasty inside. :) I bought a hot water bottle as well...Apparently it's one of those things that is a part of life here...Speaking of which...I'd better put the kettle on.
There we go! Nicely tucked at the foot of my bed heating it up for me. :) G'nite!

ps. Do you know to see the doctor here you have to book 2 weeks ahead for a 10 minute slot??? At least I pay via taxes so I don't know how much that 10 minute slot actually costs me. :p

October 3, 2013

So much for good intentions

There's nothing like making a resolve to finding yourself immediately doing what you resolved not to! After coming home from my latest holiday it struck me there was a lot of grumpiness at work...perhaps I noticed because I myself have been feeling grumpy for some time. Anyways, I believe that grumpiness spreads grumpiness and if I could manage to be cheerful and upbeat about work then the mood would generally spread.

So much for good intentions...Two weeks of working long, long hours have left me feeling like I'm trying to think around a cotton ball lodged in my brain. Sometimes I feel I can't even see properly...

Tonight I finished work 45 minutes late and came back in pouring rain without an umbrella...and found I'd lost my house key...Fortunately my landlord was in, so I was able to get inside. Oh, and my overhead lights are still being problematic so I'm living in gloom with only 2 lamps.

Gloom and doom aside...I've booked my train ticket to London in December! Just 2 nights but can't wait! I love London...in short bursts. I've been waiting for some time for a cheap ticket and East Coast just gave me a real deal at 22 pounds round trip. Things on my to-do/to-see list are: British Museum, theater, National Gallery, evensong at Westminster, lunch in the crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Victoria and Albert Museum, etc., etc.! :) I'm hopeful that a friend of mine will be able to come too...her ideas of holiday are similar to mine...and include intermittent tea stops.

To close with a little CS Lewis...

"Don't be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn't do. Each must do his duty 'in that state of life to which God has called him'. Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing's sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from the correct view! There can be intemperance in work just as in drink." (CS Lewis, letter to Mary Shelburne)

"...It seems to me that one can hardly say anything either bad enough or good enough about life". (Letter to Bede Griffiths)

Oremus pro invicem!

August 26, 2013

Bank Holiday weekend / A visit from the police

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend! :) Miraculously it was a sunny Bank Holiday...judging from comments that tends to be quite rare. The best word to describe today, however, is 'smashing'!

I 'organized' a group of friends to go to Finchale (pronounced Finkle) Priory in Durham and have a picnic amid the ruins of the priory. A river runs alongside the extensive ruin.
Tell me something interesting! I wish to be entertained.
A Dutch friend of mine came to visit over the weekend as well...Another Scottish friend was kind enough to drive us around visiting various National Trusts, including Warkworth, which was interesting to me as I had an ancestor who lived there many hundred years ago.
Belsay Hall
Costumes from Jane Austen films

Northumberlandia / Lady of the North

Warkworth Castle
In other news, my landlord is finally back from his 10 day holiday. One the third day or so his house alarm went off...as I was quietly sitting in the front garden reading 'Wind in the Willows' and drinking tea. I called them up to let them know...and unbeknownst to me they rang the police...So at 11pm there was a knocking on my door...The police...What good they were going to be 4 hrs after the alarm went isn't precisely clear, I suppose to re-seal the house and report it. Fortunately I'm pretty sure there was no robbery...especially as I was sitting in front of the house at the time!

Anyways, these two Yorkshire chaps decided they'd climb through my bathroom window into my landlord's backyard just to make sure there hadn't been an entry from the back. High commitment to duty there! I had to take a photo...Unfortunately it's a bit blurry as I didn't realized I'd left it on manual focus. And then the moment passed. He didn't want to stay in the middle of the window while I took the photo...strange, these Yorkshire men! :)