Travelling Light from Los Angeles

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chola shirt

Following on from my love of the Mexican-American Chola-style look here’s a pic of the great shirt I snaffled recently. It’s got some great details – beautiful buttons and fits like a glove. It’s also been well-loved ‘cos it’s a little bobbled in places. How did this shirt, made in China, sold in a single store in downtown Los Angeles, end up in the scruffiest (but very friendly) charity shop in northern England? I’d love to know its tale.

I’ll be adding my humungous, blingalicious crucifix to this some time to cement the Chola look!

Pastoral Care Can Provide a Real Boost

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I had a meeting with Pastor 3 today. This was the first time I’d really spent any time with this pastor outside of a church setting.

I found it extremely useful and got some good wisdom on coping with various aspects of my life right now. I wrote the salient points down in my journal. I try and do that whenever someone says something that I know I need to hammer into my brain as I am prone to a lot of doubt (about the world) and self-doubt.

I am very interested in the role of pastors. I think it is because I am interested in how organisations work, even though can be something of a lone wolf myself.

Chola-Style, Religious Iconography and Me

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I’ve become fascinated by California and LA lately. This is largely to do with the music I love – rock, pop and soul. This led me to the book City of Style by Melissa Magsasay, about LA style.

I was surprised to be most drawn to Chola style and have been adapting the look for my own use, as suitable for someone of my age. The Chola look is based on Chicano gang girls’ style – working class Mexican immigrants from the 1920s onwards. It is characterised, today, by arched eyebrows, ruby lips, big hoop earrings, bandanas, checked shirts, tattoos, skinny jeans and converse trainers. In pop culture terms think of Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Amy Winehouse and Kat Von D.

At my age I can do without the tattoos but pretty much everything else is a great look for any age – strong, sexy but not slutty, tomboyish yet also girly. What’s not to love? I picked up a fabulous grey checked shirt, complete with pearly buttons, and it fits perfectly, from an incredibly scruffy charity shop in my home town – that originally came from a Los Angeles’ shop. A bargain at £1.00. What gold lies in them there hills! I wore the ‘look’ at church BBQ this evening. We humans have to wear clothes – might as well make it fun!

Cholas use a lot of religious jewellery in their attire too, albeit, Roman Catholic-related. Well, I’m not a Catholic but it’s refreshing to see faith worn as fashion when it has a direct link to someone’s heritage and beliefs rather than just in the way that crucifixes are  often worn with no thought as to what that symbol means.

Once I Had a Secret Love

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I don’t get crushes any more. This is a good thing – though a little boring.

Crushes are like drugs. They give you a warm, fuzzy glow and get the endorphins  flowing. But they are false.

I have had four big crushes in my life. Some of these lasted years! I had one crush when I was married. When my ex was leaving me he said he wanted a “new life”. Honey, we ALL want a new life. I mentioned that I’d had a crush while we were together. He was deeply shocked as I never let on at all.

My crushes were a co-dependency thing. I see that now. One of the churches I know does a Celebrate Recovery course. I’ve thought about going, once I’ve moved house. For co-dependency issues. Don’t know if I really need it but it’s a thought.

Crushes got me through difficult times and were a way of filling the void in myself. The only crushes I have now are dreaming of faraway places or fulfilling a great dream. I think that’s okay, though I think a lot of my life is spent in yearning. I’d love to learn to be content with the here and now.

Love Poem Creeps Me Out

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Platonic friend just sent me this poem. How on earth do you respond to this? I mean, is it meant as a message? Is it just ‘sharing’. God knows? And he’s not telling. I have responded by saying that it is not my scene. I even used the word ‘creepy’. I would not have even sent this to my husband. A well  seized upon song lyric is more my style.

Here is the poem:

“Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that’s honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world seem bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.”

Edwin Muir

Download: It’s Not Just a Festival

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It was the Download Festival this weekend in the UK, a rock festival attended by thousands. I wasn’t there. I’m completely immersed in stuff to do with the house and house selling. It sounds like fun from the outside but it is dull. And immensely tiring.

Yesterday my gardener guy came. He’s a Buddhist – and a dedicated one at that. He is very inspiring, not just because of what he says but because of how he is.

Anyway, I’ve had to miss church and Life Group this week and feel somewhat cast adrift with out those touchstones. Thank heavens for the DOWNLOADS though.

These are the downloads our church provides every week – each sermon (we call them ‘messages’) is uploaded on to the church website for our listening pleasure. I’ve just listened to Pastor 3. It’s not quite the same as being there but these downloads are extremely useful and help with your spiritual journey and keep you connected to the church itself.

We are lucky.

Thessalonians 2 – Our Life Group Notes

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Firm Foundations: Our Encouragement

REFLECTION: remembering the main points

  • Our Encouragement: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12: how to persevere through adversity
  • Theological Encouragement: God’s Just, Powerful & Faithful: 5-10
  • Relational Encouragement: praise & prayer: 3-4; 11-12

DISCUSSION: choose one or more questions

  • What are some of the current pressures in your own life as a follower of Christ?
  • Do we share any cultural elements with the believers in 1st century Thessalonica?
  • Have you ever felt like your encouragement has changed someone else’s life?
  • How can you develop a deeper theological foundation for hope?
  • Are there practical ways of deepening the encouragement side of your prayer life?
  • Why do we squirm when we come across passages related to God’s judgement?

APPLICATION: things you/we can do

  • Watch this clip and talk about the power of encouragement: https://vimeo.com/102063076. Dream, think and talk together about 4 practical things you can start doing as a LIFE Group to support each other, weekly, as you face the daily pressures of living as a Christ-follower.
  • Using good resources from http://www.opendoorsuk.org – please spend some time praying for the persecuted Christians around the world.

A Hostage to Technology

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New Male Friend helped to fix me up with a desktop computer a few months ago via this tech guy he knows It worked brilliantly for about 7 months then went berserk. I had it fixed at PC World but it’s collapsed and died again.

Blow this. I’ve ended up ditching it and buying a flippin’ new laptop. I hate being tied to tech but when your work is computer-based PLUS you have a chronic illness you are massively reliant on technology for money making and for socialising, research and creativity.

This is my first blog post on the new machine. Thank you, God, for my mum, who’s going to pay something towards it for me.

The Prodigal Son in Modern Life by James Tissot

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This evening’s message (sermon) was on Praying for Prodigals, i.e., praying for those who have been Christians but abandoned a Christian life and who have gone AWOL. Quite a complex subject, especially for me as I don’t know any prodigals. I have either Christian friends or non-Christian friends, on account of coming to the church relatively late in life.

I’m sure my non-Christian friends would see this as an ethical matter, saying, we have free will and it’;s up to us what we do or believe whereas my Christian ones see it as a spiritual crisis that must be prayed for.

Not sure where I stand. I have non-Christian friends whose actions are Christ-like (they just don’t know it or know God) and I see some Christians who are judgemental and small-minded! But I also see some great Christians and some pretty awful non-Christians.

There Was a Time for Emotional Release

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I am a big fan of rock music and throughout my separation and divorce I have been deeply affected by various songs.

One such is ‘Frail’ by Jars of Clay, a Christian band known to many. The song reminds me of Richard Hawley’s ‘The Ocean’. It is extremely haunting.

But the song that truly gets to me is called ‘There Was a Time’ by the ‘new’ Guns and Roses (2008). It’s from Chinese Democracy, a hugely underrated albumand is considered a masterpiece in all its angst-ridden, full-blown glory. The music is incredible. Would love to send this song to my ex but he’d scoff or it wouldn’t register with him that this is how I feel. It wouldn’t be a wise thing to do anyway as one should work on detachment. But… it’s the best song about hurt, betrayal, sadness and regret.

However, here are the lyrics, though you need to match them with the music for the cathartic effect. And tell me of your ’emotional’ songs.

“There Was A Time”
Broken glass and cigarettes
Writin’ on the wall
It was a bargain for the summer
And I thought I had it all
I was the one who gave you everything
The one who took the fall
You were the one who would do anything
The one who can’t recall
Where she was while she was sleepin’
In another women’s bed
Or the doctor’s or the lawyer’s
Or the stranger that she met
If there’s nothin’ that I can gain from this
Or anything at all
It’d be the knowledge that you gave me
When I thought I’d heard it all

It was a long time for you
(It was a long time)
It was a long time for me
(It was a long time)
It’d be a long time for anyone but
(It was a long time)
Looks like it’s meant to be

Social class and registers
Cocaine in the hall
All the way from California
On the way to your next call
To those non-negotiations
To stimulate a cause
For the betterment of evils
And your ways around the laws
That keep you up and sitting pretty
On a pedestal or bed
And now you’re sleeping like an angel
Never mind who gave you head
If there’s somethin’ I can make of this
Or anything at all
It’d be the devil hates a loser
And you thought you had it all

It was the wrong time for you
(It was a long time)
It was the wrong time for me
(It was a long time)
It was the wrong time for anyone but
(It was a long time)
Looks like I’m ’bout to see for myself

If I could go back in time
To the place in my soul
There all alone
Lonely teardrops ooh
Are callin’ you
But I don’t want to know it now
Cause knowin’ you
It won’t change a damn thing
But there was a time
Yeah there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
Yeah there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
Oh

Oh I would do anything for you
There was a time
I would do anything for you
I would do anything for you
There was a time

There was a time
I would do anything for you
Ooh…
Yeah, there was a time
Didn’t want ta know it all…
Didn’t wanna know it all…
Ooh…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now
I would do…
Didn’t want to know at all…
Anything for you
Didn’t wanna know at all…
N’ I don’t wanna know it now

There was a time…
There was a time

Rose, Huge, Stinson

How ‘An Education’ Reveals That Mental Maturity and Emotional Maturity Are Not the Same

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English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard at...

English: Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard, October 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just re-watched the BBC film An Education, [2008] starring the wonderful Carey Mulligan. I enjoyed it much more than the first time I saw it. Perhaps my head is in a different place.

Although I am not as clever as the Carey Mulligan character, (Jenny) who is based on the writer of the memoir, Lynn Barber, the school she attends really reminded me of the grammar school I went to in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even the insistence on the fastening of that top button of one’s school blouse…

It almost beggars belief that Jenny’s parents could be taken in by smooth talking David, the older, glamorous man, but when I look back my own parents were equally naive. Not that I was getting up to anything outrageous but I’m sure that they trusted me far too much. In effect, their trust, while flattering, could almost be seen as a benign neglect.

But when you are in the top class at school, singing songs in Latin in the choir, and articulate, you are trusted. Yet this does not mean that you are emotionally mature – not at all. This is the lesson that Jenny learns through her dalliance with David. She may have seen Paris and the insides of jazz clubs but she’s just a child playing dress up.

Incidentally, it was through going to church of England schools and singing in choirs that I always had some tenuous relationship with Christianity. Okay, I didn’t truly understand what it was I was singing about but the ground was prepared.

The Best Thing About Being Single Is…

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I don’t really evangelise such but what I do is ‘testify’ – in other words, I talk to non-Christian friends about how I became a Christian and involved with my church when they ask me.

When they can see that you have not turned into a nutter they take you more seriously. My personality hasn’t changed greatly but my behaviour has, on the whole. My beliefs haven’t changed too much – rather they become more my own beliefs. I think before my beliefs were very heavily influenced by those of my husband, who is a man of very strong opinion. Only through becoming single have I been able to work out what it is I actually do believe and don’t believe about all sorts of things.

This discovering who you are is the best thing about being single after a long marriage or relationship has ended.

Beyond Belief (album)

Beyond Belief (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where’s God on Days Like This?

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No. 1 in Heaven

No. 1 in Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to believe when things go wrong – like today.

  1. Lost the flat that was perfect for me to buy. (Buying due to divorce). It truly was great and I thought I had it in the bag.
  2. Left my landline handset out in the rain. Now it is a dead line not a land line phone.
  3. Aged dog vomiting blood. Can see that she is heading for the heavens – dog heaven. Am heartbroken about this.
  4. Trailed around numerous estate agents – nothing doing.
  5. All this only exacerbates my chronic illness. Terrific.
  6. Guy-friend has proved to be a real let down. And possibly insane.

“God has a plan and purpsoe for your life,” they say. Mmm. Not convinced. Unless the plan is to be constantly thwarted.
Heaven knows, I’m miserable now! I’ll try praying, maybe.

How a Forum Can Be a Lifeline in Times of Trouble

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Apart from the support I get from my church family I continue to be a member of an online forum which gives brilliant support to men and women, day in, day out, year upon year.

Benq laptop

Benq laptop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The wisdom one finds among these members is phenomenal. People give freely of their time to help others. I’ve been a member of this forum since 2011 and I don’t know what I would have done without it. I know others feel the same. I’ve even read of people going to bed with there laptops with the forum pages open. This was because the forum was such a lifeline at a time when people were going through possibly the hardest time in their lives. It is as though the forum members are there, walking you through the horrendous time.

This is not Christian forum, although there are a number of Christians among its members. Everyone on the forum is anonymous which means you can be pretty free with your thoughts, troubles and questions. Of course, one should never give too much detail away as this might identify you to someone who could stumble across your posts.

For anyone struggling with any issue, circumstance or who is just questioning, I strongly recommend membership of a well-run, carefully moderated, supportive online forum.

My Three Years of Celibacy

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see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next week I shall celebrate three years of celibacy. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It wasn’t a decision as such straightaway. I just found that when men made approaches to me I was becoming less and less interested in engaging until one day I just decided: I’m going to remain celibate until I either get into a very committed relationship or remarry.

The likelihood of me getting married again is slim. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home

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I’ve spent the last few months with a new male friend. It’s platonic. And he’s not a Christian. I’m really glad that I’ve stuck to my guns, and my increasingly-honed Christian principles, and not got involved on a physical basis whatsoever. Nada.
I truly see that choosing to be celibate in a great way to bolster your self-esteem and it protects you from people who are potentially harmful.
I did try and envisage myself with this guy in a ‘more than friends’ scenario and I was aware of my own defences and barriers. I decided to give it some time – but it is not going to happen.
From the beginning I have had alarm bells but we have such a nice time when we go out that it’s been hard to refuse his company. However, I’ve realised that while we connect brilliantly mentally, emotionally he is just not ‘there’. It is like the lights are on but no-one’s home.
On the surface he is charming, cultured and very nice. But I can’t talk about anything negative/admit real vulnerability about my feelings or life. It is a false intimacy we have. When I do he ignores it or says something platitudinous. I don’t think he is truly interested in me – more in what I could do for him in ending his loneliness and single state.
There is just this strong feeling in me that all is not right. The question is what to do about it?

I’m Baaaaack!

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As one of my favourite rock stars once told his hated mananger after a failed stint in rehab: “I’m baaaaack!”

Yes, it’s been a long time but I’m back on the prayerwalking case. I never really left. Still going to church but been bloggin elsewhere. Lots of news. Let’s get started…

English: El-Rehab

English: El-Rehab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)