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 Man Needs to Drive (And Needs ‘Drive’ Too!)

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Call me sexist but I believe that any man wanting to woo a woman needs to be able to drive. Not necessarily be a car owner – but he needs to be ABLE to drive.

Platonic Male Friend (PMF) does not drive. He doesn’t have the confidence to learn to drive. I do find this difficult. Unfair because with my chronic illness there are tons of things that I can’t do! But thinking about the right sort of man for me… he’s got to be a driver. I would find it hard to compromise on this.

Why?

  • He can take the strain when I am too tired. (This is something most women would appreciate, not just poorly ones).
  • holidays are better when you share the driving.
  • a man can drop by to see you if he drives. The PMF lives nearly 20 miles away and his last bus goes at 6.30pm. A taxi back to his home from the city is £20. Or you have to make a full evening of it. I don’t always want that or I may not be well enough for a long evening.
  • A man who drives well makes you feel cherished and safe. I always notice how a man drives. Ex did not make me feel super-safe but he was great at driving long distances.
  • Being able to drive is a sign of self-confidence. A man who does not have the confidence to learn has low self-esteem. (This is different from the man who chooses not to drive for environmental anti-consumerism reasons.)
  • It’s sexy. I like men who can do practical things well.

A non-Christian friend, T, a man, said the other day: “Any man hoping to get with a woman these days – he has to be able to drive. It’s a given.”

J, a Christian woman friend said, “He doesn’t drive?! Oh, no. I couldn’t do with that!” All my male Christian friends drive as far as I know.

I am sure there are lots of hale and hearty women out there who aren’t bothered. A man with a bicycle or stout pair of shoes is fine by them. I’m not one of these women! Maybe my illness has made me that way. I don’t think it’s just that though.

 

 

 

 

A Fire Burns Tonight, Lent, Day 17.

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_65108948_peterfarrellHad an evening at a friend’s house with some of her friends. Well, actually, it is the house of her parents, a farm estate that’s been in her family for 200 years. She’s living back at home and what a very lovely home it is! The new things were that I met two of her friends who I’d never seen before.

I felt out of place, even quite shy, to start with as they are all about 10 years younger than me and have known each other years but I tried not to let that hinder me. Most of them are Christians, but not all, and they tend to belong to looser, more liberal churches than the one I go to (which is too fundamental for me but I love the place and the people and the pastors).

I really enjoyed the evening and ate my own body weight in Pringles, dips and spaghetti bolognese and loved the large, blazing woodburner.

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.

‘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.

 

Divorce Support Group Comes Through For Me

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Divorce Busting

Divorce Busting (Photo credit: Wikipedia). This book didn’t save my marriage but it did help us to part more amicably than we could have done. 

I popped back to my divorce support group last night after a long absence – as something has come up in my ‘journey’ that made that feel necessary. After 28 years of us being in each others’ lives my Ex is moving several hundred miles away.

This has brought up a confusing mix of feelings, memories and thoughts. The group really did help though. One of my church friends just said a few sentences that made such a lot of sense and I also got to see how far I have come in relation to the ‘newbies’ – the ones who are in the early stages of separation.

Baptism is Like a Wedding Ring

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English: The photographer's wedding ring and i...

English: The photographer’s wedding ring and its heart-shaped shadow in a dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the pastor said: “It’s all about allegiance to Christ.
Baptism is like a wedding ring. It’s the outward reality of an inner experience. If you feel that you are a Christian it is a natural progression. It is serious and you should do it if you’re convinced, not under pressure. Did that help?”

Yeah, it did.

Baptism of Fire

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King Guthorm is baptised.

King Guthorm is baptised. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a query about baptism – adult baptism – and approached one of the pastors. I wrote:

“Okay,” I said, “these baptism services – is one baptised as a Christian or as a member of [our church denomination]?

I don’t have any problem with our church denomination and read the handbook quite regularly – but I’m not sure about standing up in front of the people at our church and declaring myself – at this moment anyway. Also I see getting baptised as serious as getting married. I want to be sure I am in this for the long haul before doing it. (and to do it for me and God not to please the pastor or impress my church friends, y’know.) I’ve been through such a lot of changes these last few years I want to know I am on solid ground before I do much these days!

There are things I encounter at our church that make me want to throw up my hands in a sort of laughing frustration. I could tell you some of these things (maybe I will some time) but for now, the question is ‘Who am I obeying?’ when I am baptised with our church – God or people?”

Read the next post for the answer I received.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Moved to Tears By Church Group’s Present for my Milestone Birthday

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On Sunday, I was driving on the interstate thr...

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I was moved to tears – literally – by a present from my church Life Group for my 50th birthday. As was my mum when I told her. Humbled.

The group put together a collage, and framed it, of words and stories about me. They are just amazing words. At the centre of the collage are the words: “We love you XX”. That;s just what I need to hear, every day. These words mean such a lot to me as I sometimes feel like I am a bit of a nothing, especially after being cast aside by my Ex, as his burdensome wife.

I have hung it in front room and will look at it every day, especially when feeling in need of sustenance.

It’s tough being single sometimes especially when you are ill, but at times like this I feel like I was the winner, not him. I would never have met these people if I was still with him.

The Extreme Male Pursuer Is Not Attractive to Women

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Met this guy about three months ago (not a Christian). Had known him two years via Facebook. He is single, age appropriate, cultured, kind, is an only child like me, both parents dead, owns gorgeous house and a waterfall ( a small one!)  and seemed to be chasing me. He doesn't drive and lives miles away. I don't think he has had many girlfriends. Not long-term anyway.

I don’t fancy him at all. AT ALL. I also decided, over the weeks I got to know him that there’s something a bit amiss with him emotionally too. Hard to explain but once you get to know him you see it.

I have honed my powers of discrimination/judgement over the last four years. I used to be an awful judge but now I think I am a good judge of character. Practice makes perfect!

I am not used to being pursued. At first it was pleasant and we have had some nice times out – as friends. I made it abundantly clear that I am not interested in a relationship (not with him, anyway!) and even that I am celibate by choice.

But he kept pressing for us to meet up. No opportunity went by when he did not talk of us meeting again at my place, going out to theatre, blah-de-blah, all under the guise of friendship. But it did not feel like that. I began to feel a bit… hunted. I think I felt sorry for him and that made me overlook a few comments. I also felt very strongly that he molded his opinions to fit with mine. What woman wants that, in a friend or a partner? He even echoed the words of my friend, A, to make them sound like his own ideas. Creepy.

I did not necessarily want to lose his friendship ‘cos he is good company and seeing him  from time to time has been pleasant but it all came to a head this week. One text too much. I just had to tell him to give me “some space”. IOW, stop pestering me!

What a pain! And what a disappointment. But the Extreme Male Pursuer, as Dr Bonnie calls this kind of man, is an anathema to most woman.

I could not respect him cos he doesn’t respect himself.