Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 30th March: mothers

The simple pleasure of spending time with your mum. You never know how long or short your life is so spend time with those you treasure. John and I spent time with his mum today. I saw mine on Friday. Both are not in the best of health. Both are treasured. Not all mums are purfect. Not all love us as they should. Maybe there is someone else you call 'mum' who cares for you? Mothering Sunday or Mother's Day, call it what you will, can be a difficult time for many. If you don't know the love of a real mum, or have lost yours, here is a big hug. Remember you are loved and special; yes you!

My Mother-inlaw is the one in the middle.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 29th March: Time

Sorry there was no blog yesterday. I did write one but it's slightly differnt from those I have been posting during Lent and I want to give myself a little more time to ponder before posting. 

Time is our simple pleasure to reflect upon today. In the UK the clocks spring forward one hour tomorrow marking the beginning of British summer-time. Summer-time what happened to Spring? We can become very complacent with time. We scurry along at such a pace we miss the moment. We fail to enjoying the here and now. (This is some of what I was writing about yesterday.) When we are young we want to be older. When we are older we hanker after our youth. 

Time is precious. Life is precious. You are precious. Hmmm maybe I am sounding a bit like Gollum from Lord of the Rings talking about 'my precious' as he rubs his hands and stares at his beloved gold ring. I mislaid my wedding ring yesterday and felt a little bit like Gollum when I put it back on my finger where it belongs. Time is more precious than gold. Whilst a gold band can symbolize our love for each other it is the time spent together that really matters. So what are you going to do with your time this week? Revel in the moment and give thanks for the here and now. If you have a special someone tell them you love them whilst there is still time to do so.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Efficiency Express

Faster and faster we hurtled along. The landscape blurs from the window. Faster and faster we travel. The beauty of where we were lost quickly to the past. Faster and faster the efficiency train ran head first along the track that had been laid down. Faster and faster we rocked in our carriages coupled together; resistance was futile. Where were we going? How long would it take?

Brakes slamming we ground to a hault. Wondering what was wrong we looked at our watches. Anxiety clamoured for attention as schedules were lost. Phone calls and texts and emails rang out. Sat on the tracks our journey before us wondering why you and I should be waiting this way? A voice from heaven declared an emergency. Hearts skipped a beat as we waited to hear. What happened? Who was it? What casualties were taken? Anxiety and panic an alarm call of pain and distress. First Aid is needed an ambulance called. We sat and waited some answered the call.

No longer faster and faster but ground to a stop we sat and we pondered and reflected some more. How long must we wait? How long will it take? How long will it take on this journey of faith? Anxiety subdues and peace starts to reign. No point in worrying about the schedule delayed. Acceptance and reassurance enter the carriage, sanity breaks. We see for the first time the beauty outside.

The train begins to shudder and we start moving once more. Tracks laid down a lifetime ago dictate the direction. Faster and faster the train flows once more. But who laid the tracks? Do they still show the way? Do we journey together or each our own way? Does the voice in the sky make any sense? Do we ignore the tanoy instead? So many questions to ask on the way. The conductor just smiles and says, 'Have a nice day.'

Lent 2014 - 27th March: phone chats

Phone chats are one of life's simple pleasures. I often phone a friend who lives in France just for a natter. It amazes me how easy it is to stay in touch with people and yet we don't. Is there someone you need to ring? They say, 'a problem shared is a problem halved.' Maybe there is something that is worrying you that is better shared with a trusted friend? Maybe a phone call isn't a simple pleasure for you but, maybe, it would make someone else's day? Spread a little happiness and pick up the phone.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 26th March: writing

I find a simple pleasure in writing. Anyone who knows me well will know that spelling is not my strong point, even when I know how to spell a word I will make a simple error. It is often in haste to get words on a page. I love to write. If I'm writing an essay I normally write too many words and have to edit large amounts. I can't seem to help myself when words start to flow. I have a few ideas in my head at the moment of things to write but alas I am struggling to concentrate fully on the task. Blogging through Lent is a way of disciplining myself to write a little every day. Hopefully it will encourage me to write more. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 25th March: Spending time with Dad

March 25th is my Dad's birthday, he is 79 today. This is a photo of me and Dad, I must have been about 10 I think. Birthdays can be simple pleasures to enjoy and to look back on the past year. Birthdays come and go every year but dads are far more special. So today's simple pleasure is spending time with Dad. They don't last forever and I am conscious as I write this yours may have passed away. I hope you have fond memories. 

God is refered to as our Heavenly Father. The Lord's Prayer begins, 'Our Father who art in heaven'. Sometimes relationships with our human fathers are not ideal. Sometimes earthly fathers can be abusive, or unloving. I hope that is not your experience but if it is know that God is not like that. Our Heavenly Father's love is pure, full of grace and there no matter what. Today's simple pleasure is spending time with Dad, have you spent time with your Heavenly Father today?

Monday, 24 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 24th March: Prayer

Today's simple pleasure is prayer. Some people get hung up on what words to use to pray, many dislike praying out loud. Prayer is simply talking to God. He doesn't expect us to use fancy long words only to be honest with how we are feeling. I have times when I stop and pray, such as before I go to sleep at night, but most of my prayer is on the go. Something comes into my mind and I have a conversation with God about it. If I'm annoyed, or angry, or sad, or happy I pray, wherever I am. Prayer is one of the simple pleasures of my faith.

Is there something you need to pray about? 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 23rd March: God's Word

For me there is a simple pleasure in reading God's Word. On days that I spend away from it I feel out of sorts. I try to read a small portion of the Bible every day but I am human and sometimes I fail in this. It is probably my Evangelical roots that mean I feel guilty if this happens, or maybe it's my conscience? I like days that are not hurried and where I can read as much as I want to, but spending time in God's Word isn't about how much I read but about how much I listen to God as I engage with him. There are lots of different versions, or should I say translations and paraphrases, of the Bible. The Old and New Testament were written in Hebrew and Greek respectively. Our English translations try and capture the original meanings but sometimes our English language doesn't help for instance we have only one word for 'love' but in the Greek there are five words: 'agape', 'eros', 'philia' and 'storge'. I will leave you to google their exact meanings! The Bible is not just a book it is the main way in which God communicates with us today. It is the vehicle in which he uses to speak, hence the term Word of God. 

This week I picked up a copy of The Message, a brilliant paraphrase, I found that the following Psalm spoke to me (see photo). Perhaps it will speak to you to? Today's simple pleasure to give thanks for is 'The Word of God'.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Lent 3014 - 22nd March: special places

Another simple pleasure from me... special places. There are many special places that I have already blogged on. Today I focus on The National Memorial Arboretum at Arelwas, Staffordshire. It is a special place for me for a number of reasons. My husband is ex-military and served with the Grenadier Guards whilst the Arboretum is not just about remembering those who have died in conflict, for me, this is a significant reason why I like to visit. The Arboretum is fairly close to where I live and one of the places locally that I feel at peace. It is quite exposed and can be rather chilly on windy days. It can also be rather wet under foot. I love going at different seasons and seeing the change in landscape both because of the season and because there is always something new to see. It continues to live, and breath, and grow on behalf of those who have died and are remembered in our hearts. 

The Arboretum pay only a peppercorn rent, of £1.00 PA I believe, for the land that has has the gravel extracted from it. As the gravel company extracts the gravel for the adjacent land it then gives the land other to the arboretum. This is such a generous act that again makes it so special. It is a place I can loose myself in for hours. The other reason close to my heart is that a friends name (a close friend of my husband) is written on the remembrance wall. It is a special place for remembering. If you have never visited I would urge you to do so. It is important to remember those we love. For me the Arboretum is a special place I hope it becomes one for you as well. Maybe you have your own special places where you can relax, feel at peace, and remember?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 21st March: home

There are many things to give thanks for and many simple pleasures. Today's simple pleasure is... home. Home is where I am happiest. There is nothing like coming home if you have been away for a while. I remember going to Spain with my parents as a teenager. We were away for only a couple of weeks and yet when we came back all the leaves on the trees had changed colour for autumn. It was utterly beautiful.

There is nothing like coming home and collapsing in a favourite chair with a lovely cup if tea. You will already know that both trees and a cup of tea are also amongst my simple erasures.

Home is where the heart is. The heart in the photo says it all and can be found pitched in my lounge at home.

What have you enjoyed today and can be thankful for as a simple pleasure in life?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 20th March: trees

Trees are today's simple pleasure whether it's climbing them, sitting under them, admiring them, or eating their produce. 

I could also add hugging them. 

One of my other favourite places to visit (I have already mentioned Slimbridge Wetland Centre) is Westonbirt Arboretumn, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where these photos were taken. 

Oh yeah, how could I nearly forget? Kicking leaves around in the autumn (fall). A simple pleasure to be thankful for.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 19th March: feeding the birds

Today's simple pleasure is...

Wait for it....

Feeding the birds...

One of my favourite places to go is Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire. On the banks of the River Severn it is an amazing place. The birds love the mudflats there. It is a unique place. God's creation has so much to offer us including these amazing creatures. The simple pleasure of feeding the birds. It reminds me of the following verses:

'Therefor I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body? What you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they are? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?' Mat 6:25-27 (NIV)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 18th March: Friendship and Good Company

There are many simple pleasures in life that we forget about. Blogging through Lent on this theme had helped me to realize everything I have to be thankful for in life. Today I am thankful for friendship and good company. Good friends are hard to find. Finding friends when you are pastoring a church in an area you don't know very well is very difficult. It takes time. Sometimes you think people are your friends but actually they are not. Sometimes good friends are made in unexpected places. I am blessed by many good friends. Some have known me since I was a child, others are new friends and we have only just got to know one another. I think it is in the difficult times that you work out who your friends really are, who you can trust and who you can't. 

This picture is of an ornament I have i my home. It reminds me of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It reminds me of the love that is shared between them and the need for each other. God is in relationship and we two need to be in relationship with friends and loved ones. We are not made to be on our own but to enjoy each others company. I like my own space but I need good friends. I am blessed and thankful for them today.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 17th March: books

Today's simple pleasure is a good book. I love reading. I started reading aged 4 and haven't stopped since. As a child I loved to read comics and had a couple every week. Who can remember 'Twinkle' and 'Bunty'? My favourite was 'The Beano'. I loved Denis the Menace and The Bash Street Kids'. I still have some childhood copies. I also have a first 'Nutty' comic squired away and a few copies of The Dandy. My dad was a journalist so the house was always littered with newspapers, magazines and lots of books. My mum also loves to read. 

In my teens I grew away from the Enid Blyton classics and fell in love with Thomas Hardy and Tess of the D'urberbelles, and Far From the Madding Crowd, along with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I normally have a book of sorts, if not more, on the go. 

I love books and I love to read. If I could choose only one to read for the rest of my life then it would have to be the Bible. Now that's a surprise, isn't it? Favorate book of the Bible would be difficult to choose. At the moment I'm still wandering through Exodus with Moses. I think I would choose Isaiah, or Job or maybe the Psalms. If I could read only one ever then the Psalms. 

Today's simple pleasure - books.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 16th March: kicking off your shoes

Today's simple pleasure to be thankful for is kicking of your shoes...

And relaxing! That's better.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Friday, 14 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 14th March: Country walks

Today's simple pleasure is country walks. Whether it be the Derbyshire peaks or Coteswold hills or a canal path or... just about anywhere. I think I am overdue a wander or two. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 13 March: A cup of tea

Today's simple pleasure is a 4 o'clock cup of tea. (Note it is a 'cup of tea' rather than a 'cuppa', I do so hate that expression.) I managed to drink mine in the garden today. Lovely! In case you are wondering it is Sainsbury's Fair Trade Asam tea - yum.  What's you favourite brew?

Streams of Living Water part 1

I went to the recent Fresh Streams Conference and wrote this when I was there...

Lent 2014 - 12th March: Films

Today's simple pleasure is a bit late owing to said pleasure distracting me. It is films. I love a good movie, don't you? I watch most things unless it is gory, for the sake of being gory, or it's supernatural. I generally don't like to be scared, although I like a good thriller and a bit of suspense. I don't mind army movies, John likes those. I like to loose myself in the storyline and forget about reality for a couple of hours. I guess it's my escapism. Some folk like to theologically reflect on movies but for me it spoils the enjoyment and makes it more work than fun.

My favourite movie of all time is... wait for it.... Predator. I do love science fiction and a bit of Arnie. I always have to watch it if it comes on the TV. Other favourites would be 'What Women Want' with Mel Gibson; funny film. In fact I love most of his films. Also The English Patient with Ralph Fiends, and Silence of the Lambs with Jodie Foster and  Anthony Hopkins, Favorate actors, other than the ones already mentioned, Meryl Street, Sandra Bullock, Renee Zellweger, Colin Frith, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Spacey, Liam Neeson Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford.

So what's your favorite film and actors?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 11th March: Art

I use to spend many an hour looking at pictures of paintings. I have enjoyed Joseph Wright's work but never really noted his name until I wandered around Derby's museum and art gallery recently and realized he was a local artist. I still have the children's encyclopedia set I had as a youngst. This picture is in the book on science I think. On either end of the set are a book of art and an illustrated book of Bible stories. 

Here are a couple more of his paintings, sorry the quality isn't as good. Today's simple pleasure is the appreciation of art. I would post a photo of my recent panting by numbers but you may laugh so I will refrain... Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. 

 The Hermit

 The Blacksmith's Shop 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 10 March: Poetry

Today's simply pleasure to thank God for is poetry. I can't say I know that much about poetry only that I enjoy writing it and occasionally reading it. I really ought to read more. It seems of late every time I have gone to blog a poem transpires. It is a great way in which to express emotions. Sometimes my poetry express my own emotions, other times I try and place myself in other peoples' shoes. I can't say I have a favourite poem but here is one I learnt as a child. 

Here am I with my four daughters
Dead from drinking Cheltenham waters.
If I'd have stuck to Epsom Salts
I wouldn't have been in these here vaults.

I like it because it is local (Cheltenham is not far from Stroud where I grew up) and because it amuses me. The voice from beyond the grave has a certain sarcastic tone that always makes me smile. Growing up I spent many a happy hour in the local grave yards looking at the graves. Destined to be a vicar don't you think!

What is your favourite poem or poet?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Lent 2014: March 9th - Cows

Today's simple pleasure is...

Can you guess what it is yet? ....

Maybe another hint? ...

Yes, it really is...

Cows. I love gazing at cows. I'm not sure why I love them so much but I do. Maybe love is the wrong word? We use it so flippantly these days. Cows remind me of the countryside. In particularl they remind me of my home town of Stroud where they freely wander around the local commons and have free grazing rights. I have a few cows adorning my study walls, not real ones you understand (far too messy). I like the way in which they stare at you and seem to weigh you up. I wonder what they think, if anything, beyond where the best bit of juicy grass is to be found? 

Today's simple pleasure is cows - for their beauty, for their part in making the countryside so complete, for the milk and cheese they produce, for the lovely filet stake I enjoyed eating for lunch! ;-)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 8th March: Sleep


Today's simple pleasure is sleep. This is Holly who loves to make herself a den under the covers of the spare bed when I am working in my study. I work, she sleeps. It's been a long day so night, night... Zzzzzzzz...

Friday, 7 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 7th March: warm spring days and flower buds.

It was a lovely sunny day today so I tidied up the garden a little. I could loose myself for hours pottering around. Spring is on its way and I feel a lightness in my spirit. Mr Snail doesn't seem to get very far though! The crocuses are out in vibrant purple, daffodils in their majestic yellow and the little pink buds on my tree (can't recall its name) are bursting into flower. I am thankful for and take simple pleasure in warm spring days and flower buds.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 6th March: Laughter

I like to laugh, big belly laughs that I can't stop. Silly things make me laugh. I don't really like jokes as such, it is more situation humour that makes me chuckle. I like to banter and tease folk and I like for them to do the same back. For me the world is a dismal place without laughter. I haven't laughed as much as I should have recently. Life has been stressful but c'est la vie. My husband John and I took a trip to London to see a show recently and came across Chalie Chaplain. Photo opportunity or what! Well it made me laugh. I thank God for the simple pleasure which is laughter.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lent 2014 - 5th March: Memories

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. This year I will try and do a quick blog every day. More importantly, my aim is to appreciate and give thanks for the simple things in life that give me pleasure. For today here is an old photo of me and mum on Juniper Hill, Stroud. We often use to walk from the Uplands, were we lived, up Folly Lane and either we would turn right down into the Slad Valley or left to Juniper Hill, along Wick Street and back. Mum and Dad loved to walk and so do I.

Simply pleasures of memories. 
Full to the brim.
Overflowing with laughter,
Squeals of delight.
Fun in remembering
Times gone by.
Thoughts of a lifetime
Of you and I.

© Revdjo 5/3/14