Paint your nails or put your Rugby boots on?

In past years women have campaigned for equal rights. Our great great grandmothers gave their lives in the suffragette movement so that women could vote. Our husbands can no longer throw us out and keep the children and our pay in most respects is fairly equal.

But how far do we want to go, and is being feminine important at all? Do men want us to be softer , feel a need to protect us, or do they want an equal partner who can do anything that they can? A female friend of mine is an electrical engineer and has rewired our churches and put in my cooker and kitchen lights.

I am commenting on this because my slender attractive teenage daughter is being taught Rugby. I know it isn’t supposed to be a contact sport, but they are being taught to tackle . She absolutely hates it, and I noticed that as P.E. days approach that she gets a very sore ankle. I have written two notes, but now think that I might bring this up at the next parents evening.

I loathed any kind of sport at school, mainly because I have little co ordination, but I was taught by a manly “woman” who thought that women were weak and useless and if I didn’t perform well was ridiculed and left on the side lines.

We saw fantastic , feminine woman take part in the Olympics, although they had stomachs like boards and a few had shoulders the Rev. dreams off ( for himself , well …) But they were there because they wanted to be.

So which is it, a soft framed feminine woman who works alongside her husband, in a relationship where he is ultimately the head, loving her as himself, or a more masculine strong equal partner who can knock up a garden shed, play Rugby on a Saturday while hubby shouts encouragement from the sidelines.
I know I’ve taken this a bit far but the “roles” and appearance of women has become blurred. I don’t mean that I want my daughter to look like something out of a fashion magazine, but on the other hand I’d like her to grow up knowing that there is nothing wrong with being feminine.

Surely there are sports that girls can do at school, which can be enjoyable and don’t require them to behave like Spartan women.

Oakey Dokey

I dabble with paint a bit, usually oils or acrylics and recently I’ve tried some art pencils. I’m not very good , although I did sell a couple of things some years ago.I only got as far as A level but I do it because I enjoy it.

This weekend has seen the “Art Map” trail in progress. Each artist who has a studio in the area, paints or has a wooden red circle outside their premises and maps are produced, then anyone interested can tour the studios ,view the work and purchase anything they can’t resist.

There are some very talented people in Mid Argyll. The Rev. and I have seen delicate glass work, beautiful landscapes, some abstract pieces , wood turning and photography. Our absolute favourite was a young man called Thomas Waterhouse who makes furniture,of the most beautiful design. He had made an oak bench which was supposed to go outside, but I had a brilliant idea! As we cannot seat enough people in The Manse living room on chairs at a meeting, we could put this against the wall and seat about 5 at a time. Apart from the fact that I wanted to stroke the wood as well,it comes from a beautiful piece of my favourite tree. I was brought up in a village called Broad Oak, because of the large tree in the center .

I noticed some drift wood mobiles for sale, but thought that I could possibly make these myself. I also have a whim to make a largish celtic cross. I may have to get the help of my “engineer” son to build the frame. So if the weather improves, a friend phoned from the next village to say that the Loch was already half way up her garden, I am going to out to collect drift wood. My children will sigh as I often arrive home with pieces of wood that I find interesting.

“Look! ” , I say, “Don’t you think that this looks like a dragon/snake/face etc. ?” They just roll their eyes and think, she’s at it again!

Well must go and hoover and rearrange the furniture to fit my yummy plank of oak in.

Walk, Work and Watch.

28-30″Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

This is how The Message translates Matthew 11 28-30. The more well known version says ” Take my yoke upon you and learn from me……”

Yesterday when I was asking the Rev. for advice about an essay I am writing about “Pastoral Care”, he quoted this verse. Later when I was reading a study for a bit of inspiration, this verse jumped out at me again.

In the afternoon I went to visit a friend who felt called to pray for me following my recent stay in Hosp. ,she said that she had a verse for me…. you know what it was? Matthew 11. 28.  By now I was beginning to realise that God was trying to tell me something!

I am not usually a fan of paraphrase, but the words ” Are you tired?” hit me, Yes I am! What should I do about it..” come to me”, Jesus says… easy, nothing complicated, just come. Then it says ” Get away with me and you’ll recover your life, I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”   This has green pastures and cool flowing water written all over it.

I am busy most days planning church events ,preparing props, setting agendas and filling up the calender. I send e.mails to remind others, liaise with others and write about my Christian life. So where does prayer, apart from the quick messages I send heavenward, fit in.

I’m ashamed to say, I skimp on time with God.

One of the things I’ve learnt lately is just how busy I am. Do I need to be. If you look in the Bible, if Jesus needed time away to pray ,you can bet that we do too. Strange we all know this but isn’t prayer just the hardest thing to do? Not the actual speaking but the making time.Over my years of following Jesus, time and time again I have had to stop myself,  I get so involved I stop spending time in conversation with God, yes he knows my thoughts but he tells me to  “come”, if I don’t , how can I know his will, grow in Him unless I spend time with him. I’m always telling others to do it.

Bailey McBride writes “The yoke of Jesus is all about heart and mind. It helps shape us in the image of Jesus so that we become meek and gentle in all our dealings. It equips us to deal with egos that drive us to all kinds of excesses. It helps us bring every thought and every action under the control of Jesus. It helps us love spiritual things more than we love the world. When we first put on the yoke, it is strangely uncomfortable and disturbing. But as time passes it begins to feel natural until it eventually seems to be a part of us that we could not function without. ”

Sometimes I think we forget we are yoked with Jesus and try to go it alone, that’s when we get tired. So today I am going to try cycling and praying, if the rain allows, at least it gets me out alone. Or if necessary I’ll cycle to a place where I can chat out loud.

“Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly…”

Is there an electrician in the house, my heart needs rewiring!

I have just got out of hospital again, another 5 am journey to A&E with the Rev.He is getting used to it, I say at least we are too old for it to be a maternity visit! We leave a note for the two  teens and dinner money, but he usually gets back for them.

It seems that when I am asleep that my pulse which is quite low anyway, slows enough to allow my heart to begin it’s chaotic dance. Not too uncomfortable but not good for my health either. So I spent a couple of days getting a few chemicals into my blood stream, and now I’m home again.

In hospital, the monitor checks all your vital signs, nursing staff put their heads around the door occasionally and Doctors dish out cheerful advice. Your “meals”, if I can call them that, ( why give heart patients chips? do they want me to stop coming back?  and WHERE are the veg, half a tomato is not veg!) arrive regularly and all you think about in this utopia is when you you get home.

As I tottered up and down to the loo from A&E, feeling that the right to make my own decisions  had been taken away ( some times necessary when you are a stubborn old bat like me), I saw a large notice saying “Way Out”, I had a wicked urge to leg it, but I wouldn’t have had the energy anyway.

We are really blessed in this rural area with a Community Hospital ,staffed by our G.P.’s and permanent nursing staff who on the whole are lovely and efficient.( The nurse and I who locked horns over my broken metatarsals last year have now become friends and laugh about the incident.

The staff and I are getting to know each other well, and I  have no doubt that I will need Bed and Breakfast there again in the future. 

It is good to be home , though I dread falling asleep, wondering If I’ll get woken early with flutterings. As there is nothing that I can do, I am learning and it’s not easy, to put myself into God’s hands. One of the things I did learn at CLAN, was relaxing into prayer, this was at one of the seminars,apparently a practice used by Monks in times gone by. (The other members of the audience  tottered of to commune with nature and practice after the initial instruction, but I was too tired) . Anyway, this is something I am practising and it does help even an old sceptic like me.

Breathing and praying in rhythm is very calming, and helps focus on what you are saying to God. Which when I am  in panic mode comes out something like ” Why are you letting this happen , you know I have to get the kids to school, I don’t want to get old, have a stroke or die yet!!!!!” I’m sure God listens to this just as much as the others but we live in a fallen world, I will get sick just the same as other folk.  . At the moment the treatment is coming through medication, he has given me caring knowledgeable G.P’s, and I cannot escape this situation any more than anyone else. There is no “Cure”, it is something I have to live with.I also have to come to terms with the fact that I may not live into my 90’s, but can hopefully avoid a stroke.(my worst fear!)

But God cares for me on a personal level, he is interested in the minute details, from a room where I could see trees instead of other buildings,to blood being taken by folk who could do it painlessly! And a myriad of other things.

“As Christians ,we have the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes us whole. No matter what the flesh is going through,the spirit can still praise God. Spiritual health is an inner peace, a sense of wholeness no matter what our physical bodies are going through. A healthy spirit thinks positively and focuses on success. within illness you can find wholeness and strength in faith”

Taking pills does not mean that I don’t trust God to heal me instantly, although I believe that he could. But God has supplied us with the gift of many health giving plants,Image and has given us knowledge to use them and other chemicals ,to make us well. And just be thankful like me, that we don’t have to take this body with us! Looking forward to the new one Lord, but not just yet please!………..

The photo shows how wards were when I was a student, AND I had a uniform like that! I pinched it from “Tigerish Waters” Blog.

The secret Language of Christians

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

This comes from Greg Lawrie, Harvest Ministries.

“When nonbelievers visit a church, they are not only checking out what is happening up front, but they are also checking out what is going on around them. They are watching your reaction. Do you care? Are you paying attention? Is this important to you? Should it be important to them?

And maybe there are times when visitors don’t know the protocol. But before we start to judge, let’s stop and ask ourselves, do we know their story? Is this their first time at church? They don’t know what they are supposed to wear. They don’t know what slogan is acceptable on a T-shirt. They don’t know what to say.

Some Christians might turn them away and say, “I am sorry. You can’t come in here. You are not dressed appropriately.” And guess what? That makes God angry, because the church is a place to hear the Word of God. The church is a place to worship the Lord. The church is a place to pray. And the church is a place for sinners to come and find God.

If someone comes to church who doesn’t know the protocol or the dress code or the secret language of Christians, and they are turned away or made to feel uncomfortable because of some judgmental stare from a believer, then we are missing it. We should look at those people and go out of our way to welcome them, to make them feel loved. We should never keep people from Christ. We should always be drawing them to Christ.

Are you a bridge or a barrier to people coming to Christ? Every Christian tends to be one or the other. We are all examples, whether we want to be or not. The question is, are we good examples or bad ones?”

I read this ,this morning, and it is something I have been thinking about myself, especially as we get back into “Messy Church”. The “main” church has invited  the M.C. members to join them for a Church Service.  This puts me in a difficult position and I obviously haven’t communicated properly with our church members. Messy Church IS CHURCH!   It may not be on a Sunday with a Hymn sandwich but it is still Church.Those who come  feel able to join in with out any pressure, they come at a time convenient for them and share a meal and  then worship  and crafts. How would they feel about coming to a “normal” service?
On Sunday, as we were still on holiday, we attended the Baptist Church, my spiritual home, not this particular church but the denomination. They had a wonderful family service, and although restricted to their seats most of the time, there were quizzes and competitions and children could roam if they  needed to. I was impressed, so this may be my compromise,if the Rev. agrees, invite them into church but allow as much freedom in the service as pews allow. Hoping that the regular members are not upset by it. If anyone has any experience of this I would  value your comments.


Meat or Candy Floss

Like many other folk ,we have recently returned from a Church “Conference”, I had been looking forward to it although I had never been to CLAN before.

I was ,however, quite surprised by my own reaction to it. Those old enough to remember the early 80’s, will recall much change happening within Churches as they became “charismatic”. New churches shot up, other churches split and much rejoicing went on as people discovered the Holy Spirit.I was one.

We all became older and I hope more mature in our faith, and moved on to “meat”, building on the things we had learnt and allowing God to be much “bigger” than in our past experiences. Now I am not knocking enthusiasm and drive, and it is for all of us to find new ways in which to pass on our faith to the next generation and to reach those in need of God’s saving grace. We need in an age of technology , to show that Christianity is still relevant . Infact the whole week was concerned with Mission. But I felt uncomfortable, although I never put my finger on why. It felt like holiday “candy floss” which as we all know tastes good at the time, but quickly melts in your mouth. Some of you may be quite cross with me by now if you also attended, but this is how it appeared to me.

I enjoyed listening to speakers, and some confirmed that the things that the Rev. and I had introduced since taking up ministry here, were taking us in the right direction. But, I just longed for some solid food.

However, I did spend a lot of luxurious time with my daughter and we sat on the sands, got tanned and shopped. I hadn’t realised how stressed I was, until I realised how UNstressed I’d become, so I felt less guilty about not enjoying the seminars and thankful for the rest.

On getting home, I am able to get into the swing, having collected my thoughts.  All our usual commitments begin again soon and the teenagers go back to school.

So I am glad I went, I think my expectations were wrong. God used the week to refresh me in a different way, just by relaxing and “playing”. The Rev. went to a few more events than me and was able to concentrate without me. So a positive outcome after all, and our congregation will benefit, I hope.


He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul!