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.”

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! 

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.  

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

‘Bathing’ a New Home in Music

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Scandi wallpaperI moved into my new flat around 4 months ago.  it is quite hard to meet somewhere as big as this feel like one’s own but I have put up my pictures and move my own things in here, obviously.

However, I don’t feel it will be quite mine until I have a bathed the space in my music – in my case mainly rock/hip hop/soul music. Maybe that sounds strangely spiritual.  I know people do perform rituals when they moving to a new place.  I was encouraged by someone at church to pray for the flat to clear it of negative energy,  or dark stuff.  I did.

Happy Divorce Day!

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One of my church friends is celebrating his first anniversary of remarriage today. This couple seem to live the perfect life!

I am happy for him but his announcement on Facebook and loving words to his wife reminded me that today is the second anniversary of my divorce! Cruel irony.

Yesterday, though, ex and I went to the beach. He had come from neighbouring country for work and our shared care duties. It was lovely. We got on well and it harked back to other times. I was sad that I can’t walk much (still undergoing the muscle relapse from hell) and sad that his new wife is very sporty and active.

I say to God, “Why have you abandoned me?” It’s just not fair!

Ex has changed a lot. I am sure he smiles and laughs sometimes but I never see that abundant laughter and joy on his face now. Maybe he saves it for others or other times. I don’t know. Maybe too much has happened to him for that.

 

Not Celebrating Recovery

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DSCF2594As the relapse in my health – long-term condition –  from hell continues I have dropped all regular commitments, including Celebrate Recovery at church in nearby city.

Not even sure I am going to go back to it. Not making any plans at all like that. Researching how to recover from this relapse a lot and thinking I may just stick to following my church’s sermons online while I recover.

CR is great but there are a lot of platitudes uttered from the manual. It is also a very tiring evening, especially if there are only two of you in the small sharing group. I will carry on doing my moral and spiritual inventory though. That’s useful.

Elderly Brexiters Have Sold Us Down the River

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Utterly fed up with the crowing Brexiters. What a mess. Hate crime up, the pound down, businesses in turmoil, and virtually no government going on here in the UK.

What’s worse is that my mum is here looking after me ‘cos I am having the relapse from h**l and she is making a huge difference and I am really, really grateful – BUT she voted for Britain to leave the European Union. I think she feels guilty though. She admitted that she and her generation are hankering after the Britain of the 1950s, but she knows deep down that this will never happen and that the world has changed too much for that.

Old people, Daily Express readers like my mum, have totally sold younger generations down the river -and they won’t even be around to see the mess they have landed us in! I feel sorry for the young, educated, passionate people. They are understandably bitter.

And even worse, nearly all the people I know at church, barr Pastor 3 and another leading light in the church town, were I gather, on the Brexit side. .

This, along with the fact that most of them are Tories plus some of their beliefs is making me seriously consider leaving this church. As it happens I am confined to quarters and will be for some long time. I will sped the time thinking about what to do and where to go if I ever get out of this relapse. old-people-funny-t-shirts-18__605

When God Makes You Wait

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amusement-park-438419_960_720Just having that extra night at Celebrate Recovery has shortened my week which means I have less energy to do other things. CR makes for quite a long evening but it is helpful.

I’ve decided that as God is making me wait here in this town due to the ridiculous house move delays I can use the time to go to this more local church where Celebrate Recovery is. In this way the waiting becomes useful.

If I had moved to the next town 6-8 weeks ago I may not have started the course as I would have been busy settling in and trying to forge a new life for myself there.

How Hearing of A Friend’s Shortened Life Expectancy Can Galvanise Us

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Hearing yesterday about a beloved friend’s terminal cancer (could be weeks, months or years – not sure yet) has made me aware that I’m spending too much time living in the past and the future and not concentrating on the now.

I’m determined to make some changes in my life, even just little ones, like not being involved with too many things on Facebook! I do the Christian business club page, update my church’s public page, then there is our prayer group, where I am the admin, and I also am admin on a client page plus have my own business page. Time to do something else I think.

There are some bigger changes I want to make too but I’m working my way through those and how I might proceed.

 

Eucharist at ‘Rival’ Church

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Have hideous cough and thus I felt it was not fair to breathe over my brethren at my usual church and that the long service and the drive was not a good idea.

Instead I went to a local church (Church of England) for 30 minute evensong. There were only six of us (not much chance to pass on germs) as opposed to the 50 that usually go on a Sunday eve at my church but it was nice. But I DO miss my usual church when I can’t go.

Having said that, I feel it’s better to go somewhere than not go at all. It focuses the mind.

Over the Moors for Funeral

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Featured Image -- 4922Well, we said a final goodbye to pretend ‘auntie’ a few days ago. A long journey in the funeral limousine over the stunning, wild moorland to a gorgeous crematorium (sounds odd, but it was). Very personal and religious service led by auntie’s friend, who’s a lay preacher, then back over the moors to a methodist church for fish, chips, mushy peas and homemade cake.

I don’t think auntie was especially religious, actually, but it was a great service.

Mum and I did not really know anyone but I talked to quite a lot of people and my step-brother and his wife came to the crematorium, too, which was lovely of them as they hardly knew auntie. I think they just wanted to support us.

My Big Posh Church, Lent, Day 18.

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As I was very tired from my night out I decided to go to our town’s poshest church rather than make the trip to my own church this evening.

Very beautiful surroundings and wonderful choir, good sermon, but strange to be there.

This posh church’s ethos is extremely liberal – which is my 1970’s upbringing background. It’s all gay vicars and seminars on transgender issues. But the hierarchical nature of the service, the Us and Them aspect (congregation v clergy), the formality, is now alien to me, yet this is what I grew up with.

At my usual church services anyone can pray out loud, singing is done by all of us and we sing a LOT! Sermons, a.k.a. the message, are chatty, funny, moving. But gay vicars are a big no-no. It’s a fundamental church, in effect, though with kindly pastoral care rather than punishing.

Sometimes trying new things can be a disappointment. But it does stretch you and also makes you appreciate what you have already.

The War Room, Lent, Day 15

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We had a film night at church tonight. We watched the Christian film, The War Room, which I had never seen. (Hence, it was NEW to me).

I did enjoy it but found its lack of subtlety difficult, and as my friend, JH, said, the ends were all very neatly tied up, rather unrealistically.

I found this review from The New Yorker interesting: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-sanitized-christianity-of-war-room

Room With a View (of churches), Day 12, Lent

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Today’s new thing was to visit a friend/client at the house he and his wife have just bought and are doing up to rent out.

The wife, who is also a friend, is a Christian (the hubby isn’t). Turns out that she bought the student house in 1988 that I lived in during 1986/87. This is a small city!

The house has a view of the cathedral plus two other important, historical churches.

The Quiet Worshipper

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Though a garrulous person in every day life when it comes to church services I am a quiet person. I do love to sing but I don’t feel any need to proclaim my devotions in any other way. I keep everything pretty low key. Quiet. To do anything else at this stage would feel so false.

In a similar way, I mentioned to Ex once that I was going to a baptism  “You’re getting baptised?” he asked, incredulous.
“No, of course not. I’m going to see a friend be baptised,” I added.

As I discussed with male friend, B, some months ago, you don’t just go and get baptised like it’s some fashion statement. B said it was akin to getting married; you do it if or when you feel it is right – if ever.

Moving Towards Life for Lent

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A Christian who lives on my street, asked me what I was giving up for Lent.

As I have a restricted life – no chocolate, no alcohol, no drugs, no gooey cakes, no eggs (allergic!) and am celibate – I thought that during Lent that I would instead go towards life rather than away from it. Giving up more things is going to worsen my already on and off joylessness.

And after all, the end of Lent is Easter, a time of renewal and resurrection. New life.

Therefore I shall be trying one new thing a day. At least one thing. It may only be a small thing – talking to a new person, buying a new food, reading a new book – but as long as it’s new and life affirming that qualifies. I guess that the sacrifice of shunning a pleasure is a small way of showing gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice.

PIC: New view towards North Yorkshire. 

‘Celebrate Recovery’ is Not Just for Addicts

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Speaking of things that don't quite deliver on their promises...

I went to my first ever session of Celebrate Recovery this week. It’s a Christ-centred 12 step programme for anyone with ‘hurts, hang-ups or habits’ that are holding them back in life.

I’d been thinking about going for a while and a guy from my divorce group suggested that I give it a go. A lot of people think it’s just for addicts and alcoholics but that’s not the case. Anyone who’s battling with various issues (and who isn’t?) is welcome. Some examples would be: perfectionism, debt, guilt, divorce, anger, abuse, insecurity, gambling, anxiety, emotional abuse and other abuses, overspending, coming form a dysfunctional family, grief – plus lots of other things.

I realised that I do suffer from some low self-esteem issues emanating from childhood, my long-term illness and the divorce. Also, I think I have a tendency to co-dependency. Not like I used to but it could still be an issue. I know I am not experiencing as much joy in my life as I used to and these things are barriers to joy or freedom.

Not sure how much I can commit to the course (it runs for a year and some people go for many years) but I’ve at least made a start.

 

Stuck on Moors – Life Group Men to the Rescue

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_65108948_peterfarrellEach year my church Life Group holds its Christmas party at a very remote farm in one of the widest upland areas in northern England. The farm is about 16 – 20 miles away from my home.

Twice I have driven to this place, by myself, with no problem, in poor driving conditions. This year was different.

Firstly, I was running late because I’d had to go back home to pick up something I had forgotten. It had been 12 months since I’d done this route.. Secondly, I had my dog with me.

As I drove up onto the moorland in the  pitch, pitch black I thought, ‘Wow – this place really is remote. How much further can this be?’

A car behind me was driving too close. The headlights were shining in my eyes. Fortunately, the car turned off and I went on my way.

But then I realised that the scenery had changed – and I didn’t recognise it. Walls had disappeared. All I could see was road (more a track) and reed beds. And very deep darkness.

It struck me that the car behind me had been turning into the right place – the farm, my destination. It was I who was wrong. I’d overshot the mark.

No problem, I would turn in the road.

I got halfway through my three point turn… Disaster. I couldn’t reverse. The grassy verge wasn’t firm ground at all. It was bog – literally! The reeds should have been a clue. My wheels were stuck fast in the mud. I couldn’t move. My muscle problems meant I couldn’t push my way out nor could I walk to the nearest building (which was probably the farm itself).  And I was blocking the road.

I got my mobile phone out. Would there even be a signal?

Yes!

I rang the pastor’s wife. No reply. I rang the pastor. No reply. I rang again. Still no-one answered. Busy with party prep and entertaining.  I was now nearly fifty minutes late. Would anyone twig that I wasn’t just late but in trouble? Possibly not.

Would I be here all night? Thank heavens I had the dog with me for comfort. I rang 999 and was put through to the police. I explained my predicament. I said I was scared. (I was).

The police could not find the road on their maps – it’s that remote. They hadn’t even heard of the village in the valley. Eventually they did manage to locate it and said they would send someone out. They suggested I call my rescue service but, tbh, I felt incredibly vulnerable and, in my panic, I thought the police would be the best bet.

As I was waiting I recalled that one of my good male friends, who I knew was due at the party, is usually ‘switched on’ to his mobile. I tried him. Joy! He replied. The signal gave out but I had time to convey my predicament and location.

Minutes later car headlights came bobbing along the road. Three strong men from my group came along. One got in my car, the other two pushed. In seconds I was free. My ordeal was over. The pastor stayed with me and I rang the police to cancel my emergency rescue. We went on to the party and had a jolly time.

What happened was, in the end, not that dramatic.  I was stuck, I was rescued. All I suffered really was embarrassment.

But much later on, when I got home about midnight, I felt tearful. How vulnerable I can be. Recent, severe floods and extensive power cuts up here have made me realise this too.

God was faithful, as they say. I was okay. But it’s shaken me.

 

 

 

 

Is This Friendship Waning?

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Didn’t go too well with Male Platonic Friend yesterday. Was at his house and felt like me and my dog were an inconvenience. He kept shooing the dog away (though he was kind to her later) and he seemed distant and cold. Not all the time but a lot.

He is under a lot of stress at the moment with work and other things, though he acts as if he’s fairly unaffected by it. I don’t believe this is the case.

All the time I have known him I’ve had doubts about how authentic he is. He’s been all over me like a rash (emotionally, not physically) but not any more!

He has said he’s a scared of intimacy. Even friendships, if they are going to last, need intimacy or else they are just ‘arrangements’. Like ‘coffee friends or someone you go to the cinema with.

I have been a little snappy with him too, which I am not proud of. I think it’s because I know he’s got major issues and he’s not dealing with them. And they are affecting his life in a big way.

I have to accept that. It’s NOT my place to make him face up to things.

As someone who is walking a Christian path, albeit quite shakily at times, I am used to being with people who are working on themselves, who acknowledge that we are all ‘broken’.  At my church there is a divorce group, Freedom in Christ course, a Grace course, bereavement group etc. At a neighbouring church there is Celebrate Recovery.

MPF pretends to be unbroken. It’s hard to get close to someone like that.