Thursday, February 27, 2014

The ministry of cake

So, one weekend, I 'come out' at Linden and say I'm committing myself to Zac's and the next weekend sees tragedy hit Zac's. And a little voice says, 'Are you sure this is the church you want to commit to?'

Absolutely. There's no other place I'd rather be. I'm helpless and hopeless and I'm not good at talking to people but I make a tidy cake.

When I was being prayed for I was given two words in particular: redeemed and mother. So if nothing else I hope to see the mother, the Welsh mam, in me coming out. Mam's answer to everything: 'Sit down, have a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.'

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

But it wasn't all gloomy

We also celebrated Nicole's 40th birthday. Nicole has taken enormous steps and turned her life around since I first met her - she is unrecognisable now as the same woman - and is a wonderful mother to her baby son. In spite of the tragedy of the weekend her life deserved to be celebrated - although she struggled to hold back the tears as she blew out her candles.

What was especially wonderful, and I admit slightly surprising to me, was that, although Andy was a quiet background sort of person, everyone I spoke to last night had their own story to relate. He affected a lot of people and leaves behind many good memories.

A happier day: Andy before his baptism last summer. And remembering him.

And death shall have no dominion

One of our Zac's regulars died on Saturday. A fragile soul who, over past months, had enjoyed the most stable period of his lifetime. Which in its way contributed to his death.

So there was a sombre atmosphere in Zac's last night. For those who wondered if God understood fear, depression, hopelessness, for us all, Sean had us read from Matthew 26:36-46, where, in Gethsemane, Jesus laments, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.'

We lit candles in Andy's memory, in defiance of the darkness that would steal our peace because darkness cannot overcome the light.

And death shall have no dominion.

Friday, February 21, 2014

An eventful few days

The leaders had invited me to explain to the church my reasons for taking time out/leaving Linden and to pray for me. I was quite scared about being prayed for: standing up the front - what if no-one wanted to pray for me? Yes, I know that's unlikely but worry is irrational.

Anyway come Sunday morning Chris called me forward and I began to speak, starting by saying that the last thing Husband had said to me before I'd set off for church was, 'Just relax - and don't say anything stupid.' Trouble is the more relaxed I was the more likely I was to say something stupid ...

But it didn't look as if I'd get the chance to say anything much stupid or wise when mid-explanation the fire alarm went off.

Everyone looked at each other and I muttered something along the lines of, 'could someone turn that off, please?' Eventually after some looking at each other the leaders and trustees decided that we really should evacuate until the building had been checked. So out we all trooped. 

When it had been confirmed that it was a false alarm - and I'd gone back in to explain how to switch off the alarm - everyone returned and Chris summoned me back out the front. Personally I felt that it was a sign that everyone should leave Linden ...

In spite of my anxiety the being prayed for bit was really rather nice and comforting and supportive. So that was that.

Coincidentally my annual staff review had been scheduled in here. Because of my decision things were now a little up in the air so we've agreed that we'll meet again in two weeks having thought about what we/I want to do. Watch this space ...

Off to Devon for GrandSon2's second birthday.
The sun was shining so it seemed an ideal opportunity to eat ice cream on the quay at Exeter. My suggestion unsurprisingly. Followed by a birthday tea and chocolate cake.

Took the grandchildren swimming and then pottered before returning home. All was well until midnight. From then on I spent the time mostly with my head down the toilet. You'd think your body would realise when there was nothing left to come up, wouldn't you? That'll teach me to share straws and drinks with children who've just got over a tummy bug. 

Felt very sorry for myself and slept most of the day. Woken at lunchtime by the bottles on the bedroom sink rattling. In my bleary state I thought it was George, creeping around looking for me and bumping into things. Turned out it was an earth tremor.
Resisted a strong craving for eggs and chips in the evening.

Feeling as if I've been kicked in the stomach by a carthorse. Not ill very often and don't cope well with it. Still have this craving but now it's for poached eggs on toast. Think I might be able to manage some in a little while. Perhaps I should paint big white cross and hang it on the gate. Unclean, unclean! 

Sympathy please. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Not being Sean

Steve was supposed to be leading Zac's on Tuesday but he ended up in hospital after a cardiac arrest: the things some people will do to avoid leading. Anyway I offered to do it and afterwards Ric said, 'Well, that was another study you scraped through by the skin of your teeth.'
I asked him what I could do to be better. He replied, 'Be Sean.' Which isn't exactly helpful but true.

The trouble is, for lots of our regulars, it's not so much Zac's place as Sean's place, and anyone trying to step into his shoes is at an instant disadvantage. That aside I don't help myself.

At the end we prayed for one young lad whose mother had just died. In the prayer I asked that God would be a mother to him. 'And father, and brother ...' and instead of stopping there I sort of carried on. And on. I was just about on the verge of asking God to be great-aunt and sister-in-law to the boy when I said, 'and child. No, not child. I don't mean child. I'll stop now. Amen.'

You see I panic. I'll say something with conviction ending it with 'as it says in the bible,' and then I'll doubt myself. And instead of just keeping quiet I say, 'I think it says that in the bible; does it say that in the bible? I think it does.' And I'm usually right but by focusing on it I draw attention to my uncertainty.

Afterwards Nigel took me aside and said, 'when you were praying, just before you said child, I sent up a quick prayer. I said, please stop Liz now; she's waffling.'

So you see it was Nigel and God's fault. But if I hadn't panicked I'd have got away with it because most people would have got bored and stopped listening by then.

I need the gift of authority and the ability to - not bluff exactly but to keep calm and - deny everything.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cleavage and failure to connect

Undressing and getting ready for bed the other night I took off my bra and Husband burst out laughing. Which isn't really the reaction a girl hopes to produce.

It turned out that the tissues I'd stuffed in my cleavage earlier had stayed in place even when I'd removed my bra. (I know: too much information)

* * * * * * * * * *
On Monday mornings I get into work and get down on my knees - and try and work out why the modem isn't working.

This morning I had jiggled and twisted, pulled out and pushed in, switched off and switched on everything I possibly could jiggle, pull or switch and I still wasn't getting a connection. 

There was only one thing for it: I'd have to phone one of the techy-men. Which is when I discovered we didn't have a phone connection either.

I used Husband's mobile, which happened to be in the car, to call him and ask him to report the fault to BT. It wasn't until I was back in the office - we don't get a signal inside - that I remembered we're not with BT. When I tried to call him again I discovered he was out of credit. That's when I adopted Garfield's 'I hate Mondays' pose and went back to bed (metaphorically speaking). 

(Allegedly the weather was responsible.)

Husband has a mean streak

In all the years we've known him Husband has never given George a bit of his breakfast toast yet George continues to hope that this will be the day that it all changes.
It wasn't.

A very good weekend - almost

It was Daughter's birthday yesterday so we've been in Devon for the weekend. Son-in-law took Daughter out on Saturday afternoon while we took the grandchildren swimming and then GrandDaughter and I set to making a cake. GrandDaughter is definitely of the opinion that more is better when it comes to chocolate hearts, chocolate balls and mini marshmallows.

Daughter was very pleased with the present I almost kept for myself: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Yummy recipes and fun words to accompany them. I found it in a local bookshop but have just noticed it's available for kindle on Amazon. It won't be the same as a book though ...

She was also pleased with her large box of Thorntons Viennese truffles, which she opened straightaway ... and offered to the children!!!! I was appalled. 'You don't give those to children!!!' When our children were little we didn't give them chocolate for years: we even ate their Easter eggs (for their good of course) until they got wise to us. They certainly didn't get to eat any of our 'posh' chocolates.

Somewhere along the way during the course of the weekend we watched the Wales Ireland rugby game. In bed that night I tried to think of something positive to take from it: I couldn't think of a single thing. The best I could come up with was: at least they didn't totally thrash and humiliate us. Oh wait, yes, they did.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Life - alien and otherwise - and dark

My 86-year-old uncle lives in one of these cottages on the sea front so George and I walked down this morning to see if he was okay.
I didn't think he'd have been affected by the flooding as there's a strong sea wall, promenade and road between him and the sea but this photo was taken about an hour after high tide so the sea must have been quite impressive at its height.

We got there and he was out - so I'm assuming he wasn't too worried!

Last night in Zac's we began on  the gospel of John, looking at what other people said about Jesus, including:
"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:4-5)

You get to see something of the debris of life when beach-combing but it's not every day you find a toilet seat.

Or a toilet duck. (I have just this minute realised why they're called toilet ducks!) The thought occurs to me that maybe someone was washed away while cleaning the toilet. And wouldn't that be depressing? To have gone to all that effort only for it to be washed away without anyone appreciating your hard work.
I'm just glad I didn't come across the toilet cleaner him/herself washed up amongst the seaweed.

But we did find some interesting alien life living on a piece of old rope.
Today Swansea Bay; tomorrow the world.

Monday, February 03, 2014

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

After thinking about it for many months I've told the leadership team that I'm taking time out from Linden. You'll still find me at work in the office but not in Sunday or other church meetings.

It's not about what Linden is or isn't but rather about where I am. I think anyone reading my blog regularly will have grasped that my heart is in Zac's and that's where my priorities are too. I'll still be going into prison and helping with night shelter, it's just for the 'normal' church stuff that I'll be absent.

My faith is strong - probably stronger than ever - and I'm not upset or angry or anything bad; in fact I'm much happier now I've made the decision that I've been dithering over for so long. 

As I said I'll still be working for Linden unless we reach the conclusion that the administrator needs to be fully committed (and, yes, people have often said that I should be committed ...) and, if there's a particularly fascinating looking meeting on, I'll be happy to attend. So it's not a final step but rather an onward step in my journey.

See you on the way.

The Welsh wedding quilt

I took my beautiful quilt to work with me yesterday to show the teacher of the quilting group that meets there. She was suitably impressed and told me the story of the Welsh wedding quilt. I say Welsh but she said it was a tradition in quilt-making counties but she didn't know about further afield.

Apparently the bride would make a quilt, pink on one side and blue on the other. When the first baby was born the quilt would be brought out and put on the bed, appropriate colour up, when the new mother had visitors or the doctor called. Then it would be put away to be brought out for the next baby and so on until the husband or wife died when it would be used for the laying out.

So, because the quilts weren't used on a daily basis and were put away carefully between use, many of them have survived for a very long time. The quilting teacher said she had one, probably made in the 1930s, and which is faded slightly along the lines where it's been folded in drawers. 

Is that a tradition in America, Katney?

After the tide

This morning's high tide was pretty impressive; the debris left behind less so. At Blackpill it's hard to tell where the beach ends and the prom begins. 

And these shells must have decided there was safety in numbers
On our way back along the beach George decided to roll in something - I have no idea what. Actually it wasn't so much a roll as an all-over body massage. Walking back up the road, even in open air with a breeze I had to keep my face turned away from him for fear of being overcome by fumes. 

I've bathed him and not only does he still smell but so do I now, in spite of wearing rubber gloves. I need some doggy deodorant.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

George eating raw fennel

His first reaction was to instantly spit it out and it was so fast and funny I rushed to fetch the camera to see if he'd do it again; of course he didn't. 

And they're off!

So, after months of planning and preparing, Younger Son and Nuora are off. 
Off to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia to set up Blue Temple Conservation, a marine environmental project. It's wonderfully worthwhile thing to do and we're very proud of them but it means that, for the next five years, they'll be spending 9 months of the year in Malaysia and then splitting the other 3 months between Wales and Italy, and the Welsh Mam in me wishes it was the other way around!

At this precise moment, ten minutes after they've left, I'm wishing I could cry as I feel a big tear weighing me down. Ah well, I tell myself, look on the bright side: at least you won't have so much trouble with the shower plughole regularly being bunged up with YS's hair.

And in about three-quarters of an hour Wales play Italy in the first of this year's Six Nations matches so that'll take my mind off things. But what I really need is chocolate.