Blogging, Daybook

Daybook Entry – 4th November 2017


FOR TODAY 4th November 2017

Outside my window… the night sky is alight with fireworks and bonfires. It’s that time of year again!

I am thinking… that I’m glad I had my hair cut last week (professionally this time) but I am going to have to keep straightening it until it grows a bit and the curls drop out a little.

I am thankful… for my two wonderful children who have grown up to be such wonderful young adults.

In the kitchen… a new recipe of mine which I have perfected over the last couple of times of trying it, we had pearl barley risotto with chicken and mushrooms. Delish!

I am wearing… grey and blue. Not a reflection of my mood, thankfully.

I am creating… lots of stories! I am about 6 weeks into my Masters degree work and I have got short stories and flash fiction coming out of my ears at the minute. I am loving the creativity of writing, and of finding characters who speak to me so I can tell their stories. I will post some on here, but I have to be careful that I don’t share something which I am going to use as an assignment later or on else I could be caught out by the anti-plagiarism rules with the OU.

I am going… to go for a walk in Heaton Park tomorrow afternoon. Pictures to follow.

I am reading… “Rather Be The Devil” by Ian Rankin for fun, but oodles and oodles of other stuff for my Masters. I’m developing a bit of a crush on Victorian gothic horror at the minute which started out as research but is now turning into entertainment .

I am watching… “I know who you are”, which is a Spanish crime thriller shown on the BBC over the summer. I discovered it yesterday and I am hooked. It is the story of a lawyer who is accused of murder but who has lost his memory of any events before the alleged murder. It is in Spanish with English subtitles, so it needs some concentration (ie, no crocheting or Candy Crush while it is on!) but it is well worth it. Again, something I started to watch for research purposes but is turning out to be an entertainment piece too.

I am praying… in thanks for the safe delivery of a friend’s new baby, for the safe delivery of another friend’s baby in a couple of weeks and for the safe gestation for another friend who has had two heartbreaks in the last year. God is everywhere in creation, and for that I give thanks.

I am wondering… how I am going to get through the next 8 weeks until Christmas. As ever, the family calendar is FULL and if I don’t count studying, I have got 5 days between now and Boxing Day where I am not committed to something or other. I always go through this wobble around this time of year and I have never come unstuck before, but nevertheless, the next couple of months are going to be busy.

I am looking forward to… Boxing Day…!

From the boardroom…I really want to make these this year.

DIY ~~ making string ornaments.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/456974693425566704/

 

I am hoping… Ethan and Megan are having a good time in Scotland this weekend.

I am learning… that I am stronger than I think I am.

Around the house… things are very quiet for a change. It’s weird.

I am pondering… how to present a discussion for my BAP* in a couple of weeks.

A favourite quote for today…

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, you are listening” – Lisa M Hayes

One of my favourite things… is a book and brew in bed before sleep.

A few plans for the rest of the week: church tomorrow, Stay and Play then a pre-BAP meeting in the afternoon then band on Monday, band again Wednesday, Study group Thursday, praying at a funeral on Friday, band Friday night, then Messy Church on Saturday. Yes, it’s a tad busy this week!

A peek into my day…

I sit next to Gareth in band, and this is his “unique” way of keeping his music tidy during rehearsals *ahem*

Postscript:

*BAP – Bishop’s Advisory Panel. This is the 3-day selection panel where my suitability for ordination training is assessed and decided. I will be attending BAP at the end of November and there’s a bit of preparation to do before I go, including (and not limited to) booking my train tickets and deciding on how to invite a discussion around one of the church’s marks of mission.

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Blogging

Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…

new_year_meme

A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

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A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.

Blogging

The Joys of…


…Banding

After the highs of Christmas comes the lows of clearing out the pads.

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Not the best job in the banding calendar but gotta be done or else we won’t have Christmas music next August.

After the big clearout a few months ago where Gill my friend and Librarian nearly had heart failure, I didn’t want to put her through it all again so soon so I enlisted the help of Kevin my husband.

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Thanks Kevin (and sorry Gill! Hope this makes up for the last one xx)

Roll on the spring repertoire 😉

Christianity

Epiphany


Today is Epiphany, or Twelfth Night if you are of European extraction. But what is that exactly?

Well, Epiphany was when the wise men (or the Magi if you like) visited the nativity of Jesus Christ. They were a little bit after the big event with the shepherds and the angels and all that hoo-hah, and they had arrived after doing a little detour to Herod’s palace on the way. I thought they were supposed to be “wise” men, but surely, tipping off the King that there was a new king born in his land probably wasn’t the best thing to do. After all, it meant Joseph and Mary had to do a run for Egypt soon after Jesus was born or else he would have been slaughtered in the widespread massacre Herod ordered after their news.

Now I don’t now for sure that the wise men arrived twelve days after Jesus’ birth, or if that is something that is a convenient number for us to remember, (if you do know, please leave me a comment below) but it’s where we get the “12 Days of Christmas” idea from. Not the 12 days before Christmas, but the 12 days afterwards. We all know the song don’t we? “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…” and so on. There are twelve verses to the song and each one denotes a different gift given on each consecutive day. There are parallels between the gifts in the song and Biblical references, such as the partridge in the pear tree is supposed to represent Christ himself, the four calling birds are the four gospels, the 12 lords a-leaping are the disciples and so on. You get the idea.

So what is it about Christmas and gifts? Obviously, the gift of light and life we receive in Jesus Christ, but how do we arrive at the gift-giving to each other? The song is one example, and throughout the world different cultures have different customs in gift-giving at Christmas time. In the UK we give gifts on Christmas Day (25th December), but in many parts of Europe gifts are exchanged on the 24th December which is Christmas Eve. The Russian Orthodox people celebrate Christmas on 7th January and have several gift-giving exchanges throughout winter.

The first gifts to be exchanged at Christmas surely had to be by the wise men. Between them they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each of these gifts was highly symbolic and foreshadowed Christ’s life and death: gold is a precious metal, suitable gift for a king; myrrh is an anointing oil and frankincense is a perfume, again suitable for a king. They were pretty standard gifts for ordinary kings, but Jesus, as we know, wasn’t an ordinary anything let alone an ordinary king.

So, epiphany. It has come to mean an insight, or a sudden illumination into a problematic situation or issue and as far as I can see, the first epiphany was just that too. Jesus was sent as the light in the darkness and the wise me followed a bright star to find him. They might have been a little late to the party, but we shouldn’t be too hard on them because that party is still going on more than 2000 years later.

Just a moment of levity for you. I saw this cartoon on my Facebook feed this morning and had to share it with you. Hope it makes you smile as much as I did.

frankincense

Christianity

Let The Light In


ernest hemingway

Contrary to popular (ie, non-Christian) belief, we are still celebrating Christmas. Most people think that Christmas is something that is done and finished with by 25th December, but that’s not true. For western Christians, Christmas carries on until Epiphany, which is when we remember the arrival of the magi at the nativity.

Christmas is a time of light. Here in the northern hemisphere are in the depths of midwinter, and Christmas falls just after the solstice, where we see the longest hours of darkness. It’s no coincidence that we celebrate the birth of the Christ who is the Light of the world at this time – the days are getting longer and lighter, we look towards to coming new birth of spring, and Christ was born to bring light to the darkness. Have you ever wondered about the phrase “having an epiphany”? It’s usually where we experience sudden clarity or insight into something we have perhaps been struggling with. Another way to look at it is that light is thrown onto a difficult issue or situation. The magi, or wise men, found the same when they arrived in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth.

Just after Christmas comes January where the pressure is on to make resolutions, usually ones about self-improvement in terms of health, fitness, attitude or behaviour. But what about us people who are content with our failures and our shortcomings? How about us who know full well we are broken, with bits missing and bits of us glued together with gaps showing?

I draw comfort from knowing that God makes use of people like me who are cracked and broken. If we were whole and have no gaps, how can we let our light shine out and God’s love pour in? Just as the same way that a watering can is no use if it doesn’t have holes in, my life isn’t very useful if it is the paragon of wholeness. I quite like having the gaps where God can shine through.

Cracked pot? Certainly. Crackpot? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

 

Did you know: The name January comes from the Roman god Janus, who is usually portrayed as having two faces – one facing forwards and one facing backwards representing the change from the old year to the new. 

Blogging

ChristmasCam


It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas in the Smith household at last!

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My fireplace. No candles lit yet but we're getting there!
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Our tree. Nice and cheerful.
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The Carol Service last night - I'm on the left of the picture. Action shot!
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My family - Kevin on the left, Ethan in the middle and Emma on the right. You'll notice Emma is standing on a step in high heels and is still the same height as her brother!
Blogging

Carol Service PamCam


A bit of a blurry one today, but this is a photo of my BANDIES (not baddies as I put yesterday – oops!) at the carol service at my church tonight.

carol service selfie

 

It’s at times like tonight where I am reminded of the privilege I have of being able to exercise my gift for music-making, and to do that with my family and friends for my church family and friends has been a joy and a pleasure tonight.

Doing something I love, with people I love, in a place I love for people I love is just the best feeling in the world. And even better than that is to be able to say “thank you God” for bringing music out of me in the first place.