Aftermath

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ON THE WAY

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We have all been shaken by the tragic events in Manchester, a few days ago. The nearer death gets to us – the more real it becomes. We seem still vaguely immune to the distant tragedies of other places in the world, where similar events occur weekly – remember this?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39613313

The combination of the young age of the victims, the immediacy, the senseless damage done by one individual and the long-term effect on families and communities – all bring a huge emotional turmoil to all of us.

What can we do with all of this? How do we react? How do we process this mentally? How do we address our feelings?

Here are some of my humble suggestions:

  • we stay silent: social media is such a frustrating place at times like this. People went their hatred and scapegoat indiscriminately or parade simplistic naive solutions. Better to stop and follow…

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Close to You – Why Divorce is One Flesh ‘Rent Asunder’

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IMG_1226 1.JPGIt’s no secret that it has taken me longer to get over my marriage breakdown than it has for some other people.

This time, the season, is the first time in 30 years that I have not seen Ex regularly. We co-parented our dog for six or seven years after The Separation and she died at Christmas 2016.  Although we have been in touch a little bit by text and email we have not seen each other.  I think this is a good thing.  They say that no contact (NC) is the way forward.

I was talking to my mother about this the other day. I said, “Ex is the person that I have been closest to in the whole of my life.”  Now this may have been a little hurtful for my mother to hear but it is true.

We are meant to separate from our parents.  When we marry we expect to travel through the decades with our spouse.  Also, there is the sexual connection which binds us to our spouse; something that, hopefully, we do not share with our parents.

It seems strange but it was only this realisation that my ex is the person that I have been closest to in my whole life that made me realise why it has taken me such a long time to get over him and the marriage.  I don’t think I necessarily miss him as much as being married,  though I am not entirely sure that I would choose to remarry.  The thought of never being in love or being loved again in return, however, during my remaining life is pretty grim!

 

The tyranny of the ‘Fat’ Brigade

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vintage-1107700_960_720One of the most distressing symptoms of my prolonged health relapse is that I am very underweight. I’m 5ft 1″ and under 7 stone. I eat like a starving donkey, take supplements, including whey protein powder, I am having tests on my repeated GP visits.  I hate being this thin.  It makes me feel unfeminine, weak and insubstantial.

Yet people feel free to tell me,  most  emphatically, that I am too thin… in a concerned voice.  It seems never ending.  I find it patronising and hurtful. It is socially acceptable to tell me I am too thin  but how would they feel if I said: “Hi! Still fat, then?” or “Crikey, you’ve put weight on. Bit of a porker!”

Constantly telling someone they are too thin seems to imply that you’re starving yourself, (you’re anorexic) or just plain difficult!

I think some people genuinely are concerned but it does make me wonder if some are they’re doing it to make themselves feel better about themselves and THEIR bodies. To be fair, no-one at church has said this; it’s my secular friends! Go figure! 

I’m going to have to think of a good riposte next time somebody pipes up!

 

Valentine’s Day Prayer

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“We pray today for those in love, those off love, those in between. And for those who are lonelier today than other days.
We pray today for those whose frozen hearts cannot love & those who feel so unlovely that they can’t love themselves.
We pray for the elderly man gazing today at a black and white photograph in a silver frame of a wedding in another time.
We pray for the the mum, who quietly bought herself flowers yesterday. And the boy who dared to send a card but didn’t get one back.
King of love come comfort and forgive us this cheap, gaudy, desperate, isolating thing we have made of you. Amen.”
Pete Greig – Valentine’s Prayer

One of our pastors shared this on Facebook. It’s awesome.

Still Part of the Fellowship

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abstract-fine-color-waves-910x300A church friend contacted me yesterday and I wanted to share how encouraging she was.
I was explaining how sad I was that I haven’t been able to get to church as much, although I have made it to life group a few times and the Christmas concert.

She said: “But you’re still part of the fellowship. Every single person who can’t get to church for one reason or another is still part of the fellowship.”

This is such a powerful thing for me to hear and I realised that the fellowship IS all still going on: texts, letters, visits, support, prayer, music, podcasts and reading.

There are lots of people who can’t always get to the services, through ill health or distance.

I just wanted to say it’s true: “We are all still part of the fellowship.”

A Lover’s Story: Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield, 1988.

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“Will you stay in our lover’s story?” Kooks, David Bowie.

Back in 1988 I saw our time in Sheffield as a sad and lonely period yet in retrospect I see it differently. We were young, not yet fully formed, and very much in love.

My job was hard, physically and mentally, and I felt pulled in many directions. At work, I was the ‘newbie’, before that word was invented, who had to make her mark, a graduate among school leavers, viewed with a little suspicion. I wasn’t part of any clique and was frequently homesick for my birth town and my parents. Gray was out-of-work and lonely too. As I had dragged him to this landlocked city I felt I had to make everything alright for him. Exhausted after my day at the office I felt obliged to go out at night, to pubs or to the cinema, when really I would have preferred to stay in and just talk or be.

Sundays became special though.

Mostly we walked in Weston Park, sometimes visiting the art gallery there, and often in Crookes Valley Park, which was often swathed in mist.  He would wear his Joe Orton-style leather jacket and I would be in my blue coat with its real fur collar, which I’d picked up in Oxfam in Broomhill. It looked like something straight out of a Tissot painting. I kept that coat for years.

Crookes Valley Park comprised sloping greens and a flat lake and was peaceful in a melancholic sort of way. Gray was often sad and we were frequently tired. What we talked about I can’t recall but conversation always flowed between us as the leaves came tumbling down around us. There was this utter sense of togetherness, of being with the right one. If I’d have known my Bible back then I would have identified with the verse from Song of Solomon:

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

Sometimes we would walk down to Hunter’s Bar and end up in Pizza Hut. Having been on the dole for a few months before I got this job this seemed to us quite decadent! I relished seeing the anticipation in his eyes and we’d laugh as the soft, doughy pizza would melt in our fingers – and then in our mouths. I loved to see him happy like that.

Sundays were doubly precious because I never looked forward to rejoining the world of office politics in a department that was sinking fast in an era of privatisation. Many people in the office were having affairs with each other as if it was the last few  days of pre-war Berlin. This was the very antithesis of my world of “pure love”, monogamous, hopeful and magical.

These memories can pierce my heart, as if they were happening right now. I wonder at this, bemused, that he, in his new life with new wife, doesn’t feel it too, at the very same moment as I do.

The subconscious mind, I read, doesn’t understand past and present, but sees everything as if it IS occurring right now. And it is happening.  I’m walking in Crookes Park, Sheffield, with the man I love.

I am loved, valued, wanted.

The Heart of Christmas

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Some great questions.

CFM LIFE GROUPS

Think: main points to get across
• Title | theme: The heart of Christmas
• Read Philippians 2:5-8
• Read from The Message also
• Paul encourages them about humility
• Jesus is at the heart of Christmas
• Jesus ‘moves in’
• Jesus paid the price

Talk: questions for discussion

• Do you love or dislike the Christmas festivities?
• What do people around you think Christmas is all about?
• Is it possible for Christians to be distracted from the real meaning of Christmas? How?
• How does Jesus’s humanity comfort you?
• In which ways was Jesus’ incarnation a huge sacrifice for Him?
• What are the sacrifices we need to make to reach others with His love?
• In what ways does Jesus’ coming affect your spiritual growth?

Task: actions & prayers
• Think together of 5 practical ways you can make Christ central to your…

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

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Fab

ON THE WAY

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2016 will remain ingrained in the history books as a turn-around year, full of unexpected and surprising political outcomes. The future will have the right to judge what the consequences of those changes will be for ordinary people in the UK and US as well as the global impact that awaits us.

More than ever I became aware of my sense of alienation from the political offerings available. I felt deep down that although I resonate with many causes – there is no political movement that fully can embrace Christ’s Kingdom agenda.

The secret? As Christ-followers we are are transcending the traditional dividing lines into another, deeper reality. The Dominican father, Herbert McCabe captures it perfectly:
“The Christian minister is meant to be neither the pillar of an established quasi-feudal order, as conservative Christians are inclined to think, nor is he the democratic representative of a quasi-bourgeois society as the…

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8 Habits of Creative People

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Wise words.

Vision Unravels

If you are someone who thinks that he or she does not have a single inventive bone in their body, you my friend, are dead wrong. While not everyone can be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs but you can surely optimize your brain for creativity by adapting and abandoning a few simple habits.

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The Jubilation-Despair Clash

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Things have been very up or down here.  I’ve just had a very busy week,  busy for me that is.  

JUBILATION   I went to a prayer meeting at the tiny church on my new street. This church is linked to my usual church – they belong to the same family. I’m hoping to get involved in their home group whilst I am recuperating from my long health relapse.

I’ve had beloved visitors to the flat which has made it feel much more homely. I also met a woman and her partner at a social event. She  invited me to her new home which is a palatial edifice overlooking the sea. The views are spectacular.  They moved up from London six months ago. Gentrification is definitely taking place here.

I also went to a craft/technical workshop yesterday which I absolutely loved.

DESPAIR  But there are downsides too. I went to my GP and asked to go back on antidepressants as being housebound much of the time has been really getting to me.  I am feeling a little brighter for that.  I am also going to be tested for Addison’s Disease.  I don’t think I have it but it is a good place to start,  to find out why I have had muscle wasting and weight loss over the last 3 years.  Personally I think it is to do with hormones,  lack thereof,  after my hysterectomy.  Low testosterone can be a real problem.

I am really struggling with my trusted mechanic, who is looking out for an automatic car for me. It’s taking ages and I feel that there is a breakdown in communication. I feel like a ‘problem’ to him, which is how my ex used to make me feel, whereas we have always got on brilliantly. 

My relationship with my  best friend, G, is also proving to be quite difficult. We have had some talks recently about how I feel the friendship is being eroded by his extraordinarily busy, stressful life. Much of his life is negative. I really do fear for his health – and he does too! He got defensive when I brought up this ‘fading of our friendship’.  He basically told me to ‘get over it’ and ‘get on with it’.  I  believe  he has lost perspective and sees me as attacking him rather than trying to sort the problem out.  We have been friends for 31 years.  I don’t think he has any conception at all of what it is like to be very often housebound and vulnerable because of that. Disappointing.

Therefore, I have jubilant times and times of despair.  I have a large desire to tell a few people to sling their hooks.  But I know that that will be self-defeating in the long run. I must master my emotions! 

Overcoming Divisions

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Love IS a choice!

CFM LIFE GROUPS

Think: main points to get across
• “Overcome Divisions
• 1 John 3:11-19
• Love is a choice: 11-15
• Love is Christ: 16
• Love is a verb: 17-19

Talk: questions for discussion

• If you were to use an example of what true love is like, what story/person comes to your mind?
• In what ways does can the lack of love manifest itself in the church community?
• What are some of your favourite examples of true love in the Bible?
• Love is costly. What could be some of the sacrifices we need to make in order to love others?
• What Did Jesus mean when he said in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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Exploring the Subconscious

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Emotional Freedom Technique in action.

Against The Grain

Over the last month or two I’ve taken a giant leap away from the biochemistry of the body and toward the workings of the subconscious.  Meditation and many podcasts have me convinced that the keys to my progress at this point lie in tending to unconscious thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

It really started when I listened to a podcast by Dave Asprey, interviewing Vishen Lakhiani. Vishen is a meditation teacher and has an online presence called Mindvalley and a book called Code of the Extraordinary Mind.  I have been listening and watching a bunch of his stuff, including amazing speakers and visionaries that he promotes, like Lisa Nichols, John DiMartini, Peter Diamandis, Jeffery Allen, Tom Cronin, Emily Fletcher, and many others. A common theme that I’m hearing is that if you don’t have the life you want, something – some subconscious resistance – is in the way. …

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Home Alone

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When People Stop Visiting…When I moved into my home people wanted to visit.  I think they were fascinated by the novelty factor.  I really appreciated seeing them, especially as my relapse began and continued.

But after a while people stop coming.  They aren’t mean it’s just that other priorities take over and they assume  you’re ok now. Meanwhile you’re sitting here in the same position!

My mum says this is something that has emerged in her bereavement group:  that people are all over you like a rash in the beginning but then they just stop visiting.

I’m not meaning to moan – I have been shown kindness by a lot of people.  I’m sure I’ve done the same to others.  “Let he who is without sin…” etc. 

I’ve connected with a local Life Group (very local) but can’t get to it for a couple of weeks due to previous commitments. I’m hoping that will help ‘cos despite knowing a fair few people here I can’t expect them to be on call. lancaster-from-snatchems

When You Are Not Needed

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Sometimes having only yourself to think about is more a of a curse than a blessing. Even offered to take my 83 neighbour to the nursing home where here hubby is today but she was already sorted!

Offered to help young friends out with childcare on their moving day, but they don’t need me. I’ve joined a voluntary group – but nothing’s happening yet, I’ve work promised – but for the future, have a business idea – but it is still in development. Even Life Group was cancelled tonight.

At least I got out of town today for a while! Hallelujah!

Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

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This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Educational_Program_Day_37

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.

Scary Monsters and the Buddhist Way.

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20141206sa-shepherds-hut-wagon-retreat-tiny-house-interior-example-009I’m still feeling very unsettled in my new home. I think it’s because this is the first home I have ever owned by myself, even though I am over 50.

First came my parents houses, then university halls and student houses, and then renting with my now ex-husband. We went on to buy a couple of houses. There’s always somebody by my side.  

Now I should be viewing my move with a spirit of independence but I think I’m just scared! I would also really enjoy having someone to share the renovations with. I used to love planning our houses with my ex.

A friend of mine said it took him three years to settle into his home. Everything went wrong for him until he started going to meditation classes then everything fell into place for him and he stopped running away. He’s now a practising Buddhist.

I have decided to stay here until 2018. If I still feel unsettled I will think about moving then.  

Seek Out Laughter as You Age

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cat-shaming-pics-will-have-you-rolling-in-laughter-1I don’t laugh as much as I used to. We laugh and smile much less as we get older, studies reveal.

One reason  (for me) is that spending a LOT of time with the very elderly, such as my mum, is not always conducive to joy. Perhaps that’s why people love kids – they laugh such a lot and make us laugh. (I find pets do this for me.)

With this in mind I have made a conscious decision to seek out things that make me laugh every day whether that’s films, YouTube clips, radio programmes, memories. It’s gotta be worth a shot!

Marriage support – Care for the Family

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“Every marriage is different, but all marriages experience ups and downs – there’s the romantic times when the sun seems to be always shining, and the tough times when winter seems to have set in for good. We want to support you in your relationship whether you are preparing to get married or have been …”

Source: Marriage support – Care for the Family

The Character of God

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Going to do this study while I am not going to church. Made it to life group last week due to the amazing generosity of life group guys who gave me lifts to and from the church town, which is a 16 mile round drive. Should be easier when new road opens to motorway access.

CFM LIFE GROUPS

Think: main points to get across     

  • Title | theme: The Character of God
  • Read: 2 Samuel 24 & 1 Chronicles 21
  • He Allows Temptation
    2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Chronicles 21:1; James 1:13;  1 Corinthians 10:13
  • He Considers Motives
    2 Samuel 24:3 & 10; 1 Corinthians 4:5
  • He Offers Choices
    2 Samuel 24:11-14
  • He Feels Pain
    2 Samuel 24:15-17; Hebrews 2:18 & 4:15
  • He Redeems Situations
    2 Samuel 24:18-25

Talk: questions for discussion

  • What concerns spring to mind as you read this incident in 2 Samuel 24 & 1 Chronicles 21?
  • Here are some suggestions:
  • Is it wrong to count the Congregation?
  • Read Exodus 30:11-16 The Law of Moses made provision for Census
  • How many references to the size of the congregation can you find in the early chapter of Acts?
  • Who actually incited David? 2 Samuel 24:1 or 1 Chronicles 21:1
  • Why does God allow us to be tempted?…

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