WHAT AM I WAITING FOR?

I came across this quote the other day:

START WRITING…..
no matter what.
The water does not flow
until the tap is turned on.
Louis L’Amour

I love writing – and I mean “real” writing – with a fountain pen – but today, when we write, most people assume that it’s on the computer. Only last night, I watched a television programme where a script writer said that he still wrote with a pencil – and everyone laughed when he said that he didn’t have any technical issues with a pencil and the only thing he needed to do was sharpen it!

Nostalgia

One of my favourite fountain pens

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since 29th August but every day for the last 1,056 days, without missing a single day, I have taken a photograph and written a journal – so it’s not as if I haven’t been doing anything. This was my photograph for today – a typical Saturday in our town centre – quite ordinary really, but all these people had a story to tell – and I’m sure if I had spoken to them, they would have been really interesting.

Street Saturday 21 Nov Collage

The two guys on the left were intent on their scratch cards and looked quite upset when they obviously hadn’t won – whereas the people on the right were happy in their own little worlds. The man at the top, who is rather old, can be seen playing his mouth organ, the one in the middle was dancing around to attract attention so that people would at least communicate with him as he was trying to sell The Big Issue and the girl at the bottom right was just absorbed in her music and singing.

Thinking of all the people I meet on a day-to-day basis, I realise that no two days are the same, and in fact, many times they are not just “ordinary” but “extraordinary”.

For instance, I nearly always take the bus into town when I go in – and that is several times a week – and often sit next to a man called Joe. We got chatting a few weeks ago because he was wearing “hospital” boots and I quipped to him “I won’t stand on your toes if you don’t hit my knee with your walking stick”! I had a knee operation a few months ago, but my knee is still quite sore at times, so my comment was quite true. He explained to me that he had complications following a diagnosis of diabetes, so now whenever I get on the bus and he is sitting in the front seat, I sit next to him and we have a great chat. He is a Londoner and told me that he was looking forward to going up there to visit his family this weekend, so I told him about how I was trying to find out about my grandmother, who lived and I think was born in Lambeth, but beyond that, I can’t seem to find any more information.

Apart from taking a photograph every day, I also put up a Post-it Note, and very often people speak to me about that – and it’s amazing how a simple quote can start off a conversation.

At one coffee shop in our town centre, Muffin Break, they even have a “Maureen” wall and each time I go there to have a coffee, someone will ask me if I am going to put up a Post-it Note! Here are a few of the Post-it Notes on the wall.

MAUREEN WALL MUFFIN BREAK

Although I am a Christian, my Post-it Notes are not overtly Christian and are really just meant to make people think and sometimes smile. It’s interesting too, when friends send me a message to say that they have seen one of them somewhere – I have now put up almost 700 since I started and haven’t missed a day since Lent 2014 – often I think I should stop, but I quite enjoy doing it. Interestingly, when we were out with our grandson yesterday – and of course, I had to leave one at Pizza Express – he asked if anyone ever “told me off” for leaving a Post-it – I can’t remember anyone ever doing that – in fact, most people are quite happy to read them – and they are ALWAYS positive, so I guess that’s a good thing.

IMG_0106

So I guess what I am saying is that our days can be as “ordinary” or as “extraordinary” as we make them – I often speak to random people wherever I go – and like to think that I make a difference, even with just a smile or an encouraging word. For some elderly people (and I guess I must be in that category myself now, although I don’t yet admit to it!) I do think when I speak to them that if they live alone, they perhaps don’t have any other communication, so it is good to start up a conversation. It is usually with a woman, because to start a random conversation with a man could be misconstrued in this day and age – but if it is an older couple, then that’s different.

I have been challenged to do some RACK-ing in the next few weeks running up to Christmas – and for those not familiar with the term it means doing a RANDOM ACT OF CHRISTMAS KINDNESS – which could be something as simple as paying for the coffee for someone behind you in a queue in a café to buying a bar of chocolate for someone you don’t know or even paying a shop assistant a compliment – such simple things, but they could make such a difference in someone’s life. How about joining me? You don’t have to tell anyone about it – just do it!

I will be generous with border Fotor

 

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THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS….

My blog mojo has been missing for a while – and I don’t really know why – but guess I felt I didn’t have anything useful or interesting to say, but here I am – back again.

Since I last blogged on 27th June, although my leg is a lot better, I am still in quite a lot of pain after I have walked for some distance – so I try to do my walking during the day and then rest in the evening. I never thought I would long for the time when I could just get up and do things without thinking about it – and of course, many of us take these things so much for granted, until we can’t do them.  However, I have still been taking photographs to upload every day to my Blip journal and at times, this has made me forget the pain in my leg!

One of the things I have missed doing though is – wait for it – housework! I have always enjoyed doing housework, as there is something quite satisfying about cleaning and tidying and although our home is by no means a show home, I feel better when it is looking good. However, as I can’t stand for long periods without pain, I have only been doing the basics – but I have always believed that as long as the sinks, worktops and toilets in the house are clean, then the dust can wait.

My husband has been very good and has “put the cleaner round” as he says, quite often – although not quite as often as I would have done – but I’m not grumbling – every little helps, as they say.

However, today, I had the urge to do a bit more and get rid of some of the grunge that has accumulated, so I found the Kilrock and an old toothbrush and off I went – the kitchen was the first to be done, followed by the sink in the downstairs toilet and then upstairs to the bathroom.

I can now fully understand why, when I go to the hygienist at my dentist’s surgery, and she gets some of the plaque off my teeth, she gives a shout of joy – I was delighted, yet stunned, to find so much limescale, and mucky at that, underneath the taps. I am almost ashamed to show this photograph, but I guess perhaps it might shame me into doing this job more often!

Oh dear!

Oh dear!

Actually, it does look worse than it was!  Well, most of the bits you can see in the sink were hidden, so although the actual sink was clean and is cleaned every day, there were mucky bits stuck fast underneath the taps – and I guess our lives can be something like that!

We can dress up, put on our best clothes, wear a touch of makeup, spray on some perfume and off we go – to all intents and purposes we look good, we feel good and we smell good. But often underneath, there is “stuff” that is either eating away at us or that we keep hidden from those around us – because we are fearful that if they see what we are really like, we will go down in their estimation or they will not want to be seen with us, or even worse will drop us from their circle of friends.

I’m sure the woman caught in adultery, or as the Contemporary English version puts it “…..a woman who had been caught in bed with a man who wasn’t her husband” and who was brought to Jesus, and made to stand in the middle of the crowd, thought that was the end for her, and there were plenty around who were pointing the accusing finger, but the words spoken to her by Jesus stopped them in their tracks:

“If any of you have never sinned,
then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!”
John 8 : 7 Contemporary English Version

Having thought about the grime in the house, I started to think about “good” grime so I went outside and opened up the compost bin – inside there was a load of muck, rubbish and waste matter, but THIS will eventually become garden fertiliser, and although I only saw one little worm, there were also lots of ants running around and working on the stuff in the bin. It was fascinating to watch them, but I didn’t stay for too long as I didn’t want to be bitten!

Then I looked into the next bin, and this is looking good – and is almost ready to be spread on the raised vegetable beds, and under the fruit bushes, to impart all the goodness into the soil ready to feed the crops for next year.

Compost!

Compost!

Not content with just looking at the compost, I wandered around looking for other things to photograph, and came across this little marmalade hoverfly on a garlic chive flower – and then managed to get a shot of it just flying off together with another little fly.

Marmalade Hoverfly on Garlic Chives flower.

Marmalade Hoverfly on Garlic Chives flower.

So whilst some soiled and grimy things are not acceptable, and need to be cleaned and got rid of, there are other mucky things that are beneficial, and once they have disintegrated and are rejuvenated, they can be put to good use.

If these blackberries, courgettes and runner beans hadn’t had lots of good compost put into the soil to fertilise it last winter, we wouldn’t be picking such wonderful crops now.

Blackberries, courgette and runner bean flowers

Blackberries, courgette and runner bean flowers

However, not only do we need to keep our homes clean and free of grime and dirt, but we also need to ensure that our bodies and our minds are free from the “stuff” that can so easily be absorbed by seeing, hearing and doing things that we are know are wrong and not good for us. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into the mindless watching of television programmes, just because it’s on, or reading unsavoury books and even surfing the internet and finding things that leave an impression on our mind. I know that I need to be more selective in what I watch, read and do and even how I spend my time. Food for thought in the days ahead!

Paul gives this advice, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, and I need to remember this too:

Philippians 4 : 8-9

Philippians 4 : 8-9

LORD, GIVE ME PATIENCE…..

…..but please hurry!  It’s been five weeks since my last blog and I would like to say that I have come on “in leaps and bounds” – but that wouldn’t be strictly true – well at least not as far as my mobility is concerned.

Since my knee procedure, I have been having quite a lot of pain with the result that I have needed to rest more and have been lectured by my husband and family about not expecting too much of myself etc etc – but it’s very hard when you are used to being a very active person suddenly to become someone dependent on others.

There are, however, benefits to being less mobile, and one of those is looking around

Perpetually Yours

Perpetually Yours

– because I take a photograph every day – a Blip – and write a journal, it has meant that I needed to look, not just in the house, but in the garden, for inspiration, and this has been readily available.

This rose, for instance, has been scrabbling around next to our chiminea – a position it wouldn’t normally occupy – but the fence between us and our neighbours was blown down by a gale in February, so the rose has nothing to cling onto.  I know the feeling!  Sometimes I feel I have nothing to cling onto – and then I remember that God constantly reminds me “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Because I haven’t been dashing around so much, I have been able to spend more time reading, praying (for patience) and listening to music, with the result that I have discovered that I can be still and listen not only to God, but to what is going on inside me.  My husband is happy to potter about in the garden all day and every day, but I need people in my life – but God has been teaching me that sometimes there have been too many of them, with the result that I have neglected my times with Him!

I have discovered that it is all right to mourn the loss of friends, some of whom have been in my life for many years – when God moves people out of our lives, we need to let them go then move on, and of course, it is good to make new friends.  I am constantly amazed that even at my age, I can make new friends and enjoy learning new things.

Rick Warren, in his book “The Purpose Driven Life” puts it like this:

“Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent.
While your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with life,
you continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past.
Listen: those who hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now
unless you hold on to the pain through resentment.
Your past is past!
Nothing will change it.
You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness.
For your own sake, learn from it,
and then let it go.” 

One of my favourite singers, Kathleen Ferrier, sings in the words of Psalm 37 v 7

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…..

Beautiful Peony in our garden

Beautiful Peony in our garden

Waiting patiently, isn’t something I do well – but I am learning!

Photography is something that I have always enjoyed, but since being retired, I have found that I can go deeper into the subject and try things I never had time for when I was working.  Because of that, my skills have improved and I think it’s fair to say that my photography, it not my mobility, has come on “in leaps and bounds.”

Nigella – or Love-in-a-Mist

I never ever thought I would “under” or “over” expose a shot – but now I do it and am often quite pleased with the result, shown in the photograph above, and all because I have the time to experiment.

Leptophyes Punctatissima or Speckled Bush Cricket

Leptophyes Punctatissima or Speckled Bush Cricket

I am learning to look more closely at what is around me and most of the time I have my camera in my hand – so when I saw this little critter, I was delighted to make its acquaintance, although after I had taken the photograph, I didn’t hang around for too long!

Since I haven’t been rushing around so much, I have found time to listen to different types of music, and although I love the new modern worship songs and have downloaded the new Matt Redman CD, Unbroken Praise, I have also discovered the music of Margaret Rizza – and her song, Calm Me, Lord, is just so beautiful.

I enjoy finding suitable verses to go with my photographs and I really should print this one out and put it in a prominent position so that I remember it.

Ox-eye Daisy

Ox-eye Daisy

So until I am able to be more mobile, I will enjoy this season – and hopefully, when the next season comes, I will have learned all that God has been trying to teach me.

A WARM BLANKET!

Well, a week on from my knee surgery, I am doing really well – I have surprised myself because I am being sensible, resting as much as I can, and doing the exercises I have been encouraged to do.

But going back a week to the day I went into hospital, I want to thank everyone from the kind receptionist who greeted me with a smile at 7.15 in the morning, to the nurse who took me down to the car in a wheelchair at 3 p.m. the same afternoon because she felt it was too far to walk.

The first nurse I met, Helen T – and the T is important as there are two Helens on the ward – must have asked me at least six times if my name was Maureen and could I confirm my date of birth – well of course, I could!

Identity tags

Identity tags

The required tag was put on my arm, together with a tag that said I was allergic to prawns and elastoplast – don’t even ask – well OK I was concerned that they would give me a prawn cocktail when I came round and the elastoplast gives me a rash and makes me very itchy!

Help required!

Help required!

Of course, hospital gowns are not famed for being that fashionable and I had to ask for assistance from my husband to tie it up at the back – and then it was on with the pink dressing gown, ready for my trip to the theatre.

I was quite concerned as in the past, I have been very sick after an operation – or procedure as it is now called – involving being put to sleep, so when I voiced those concerns to the anaesthetist, he immediately said that things have changed and he could give me something for that, which he did and I was absolutely fine!

I was very aware, all the time I was waiting, of the prayers of friends, not only from my church, but friends all over the world, who had messaged to say they would be praying. I felt so lifted up and it reminded me of the verse in Deuteronomy 33:27

The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms. 

The next hurdle was to put on the stockings to prevent me having an embolism after the operation and to stop my ankles swelling. Well, talk about pushing and shoving – however hard I tried, I could not get them on – so in came another lovely nurse, who showed us how to do it – you use the plastic bag they came in over your toes and foot, and then just pull – well, it was a bit harder than that, but we got there in the end – phew it was hard work – for both of us!

Not quite Norah Batty!

Not quite Norah Batty!

The consultant who was taking centre stage in this production then came to see me – and drew a very large “R” on my right leg – with a huge arrow pointing to the knee – it took some getting off afterwards, I can tell you, but I guess better to do that than to operate on the wrong leg!

Marked, but not quite for life!

Marked, but not quite for life!

I walked down to the theatre in my pink dressing gown and pink slippers and after a few minutes the necessary checks had been done, including asking me my name yet again and we were ready for the performance.

Taken at home in the morning

Taken at home in the morning

I walked on stage when I got to the theatre, was put onto a trolley and was soon out like a light;  before you could say “knee arthroscopy” someone was sitting by the side of me and gently calling my name – one occasion when they didn’t ask me what it was!

I am normally very chatty at the best of times, and even more so when coming round from an anaesthetic. I have been known to sing but don’t think I did on this occasion. In fact, the more that Jennifer, the nurse sitting by me, answered me, the more I chatted. When I apologised, she told me they liked “chatty”!

At one point, I started to shiver, so was given a blanket, but not just any old blanket, it was a WARM blanket and felt just wonderful. Jennifer tucked it around my neck and across the top part of my body and I felt so comforted and secure – it was just such a wonderful feeling. It reminded me another verse:

He shall cover you with his feathers.....

He shall cover you with his feathers…..

Once back on the ward, there was no shortage of attention – very soon my husband reappeared with a newspaper and was very surprised to see me sitting up in bed, texting and sending messages to family and friends to let them know that I had had the procedure and was back on the ward. Having seen me after previous operations, I think he was quite amazed and pleased, of course.

All done!

All done!

Helen T came in several times to check my pulse, blood pressure and temperature – done very differently from years ago – and kept telling me I was doing well. I had been asked earlier by one of the catering staff what I would like to eat after my procedure and I had chosen an egg mayonnaise sandwich – believe me, it tasted like nectar when it arrived. I hadn’t eaten since about 7 p.m. the night before, so I’m sure you can imagine how I felt. The one downside was the coffee, but I guess you can’t have everything!

Nectar!

Nectar!

There was a minor blip when I felt a bit woozy after going to the bathroom, so I had my pulse, temperature and blood pressure taken again by Helen T and was pronounced fit to go home, but not before the physiotherapist had been to see me to give me a sheet of exercises to do and someone had come up from the pharmacy with some painkillers.

Of course, one problem I knew I would have was that being stuck in one place, I was wondering where and how I would put up one of my Post-it Notes (the ones I have been putting up every day since last Lent).  However, I did manage to sneak one up in the Ladies loo before I went up to the ward.

Sneaked up in the Ladies loo before going up to the ward

Sneaked up in the Ladies loo before going up to the ward

I also managed to put one on my empty plate that was going back to the kitchen and hope that the kitchen staff appreciated it.

Post-it on the empty plate

Post-it on the empty plate

All in all not a bad experience and of course, I expected my knee to be a bit sore and it was, but not that bad. I had had messages from both my sons, one of whom lives in Thailand and the other who was in South Africa and then I rang my son who lives in Thailand when I got home to reassure him that all was well. The other son was out on safari, so I couldn’t ring him – but because of modern technology, it was good to be able to let people know how I was. Helen T couldn’t believe that I was texting so soon afterwards, but understood why I was doing it!

The next morning our lovely neighbour appeared at the door holding a gift, a Fresh Cream Eton Mess – and believe me, it was soon eaten!

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

So what have I learned from this experience:

It takes more than one person to put on a theatre production.
Everyone has to play their part and know their lines.
No-one is more important than anyone else.
Modern technology is wonderful.
Egg mayonnaise sandwiches taste like nectar.
Husbands like mine are worth their weight in gold.
Family, friends and good neighbours are very important.
GOD IS GOOD!

So now all I need to do is get more mobile. Because I take a photograph every day for my Blip, and if you are interested in seeing that, have a look here https://www.polaroidblipfoto.com/browse/me I have had to resort to one or two indoor ones, but as soon as I could, I got out into the garden and it was SO good to be out there and especially to see that our Clematis Mayleen was blooming so profusely.

Clematis Mayleen

Clematis Mayleen

I am working hard on my exercises, because we hope to go and visit friends in Switzerland in the autumn – a great incentive!

My husband has been away watching cricket all this week, and I am very grateful for those friends who have come to “break up my day” by visiting, for the friend who took me out to lunch today, to get me out of the house, and for all the cards, good wishes and prayers – they mean so much.

Resting!

Resting at home!

So thank you to all my family, friends and neighbours – and all those involved in this latest production. I couldn’t have done it and wouldn’t be where I am today without you and I love you all.

@@@@@@ THE END @@@@@@

TOUCHED BY A HOMELESS MAN

As I get older, I find that things that happen to me or around me have the power to make me “well up” and feel quite tearful.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this and we can all be touched by a stunning sunset

Sunrise over Boscombe Pier

Sunset over Boscombe Pier

or a sleeping child

IMG_6261

or even seeing two people together who are obviously good friends.

A couple enjoying time under the pier at Boscombe

A couple enjoying time under the pier at Boscombe

And who can fail to be touched by the plight of the survivors and those helping in the recent Nepal earthquake. Now that television can “beam” pictures into our homes and we can see for ourselves on the internet and with up-to-the-minute news bulletins the devastation caused, we can almost feel we are there. Almost – but not quite!

We can be touched by the sight of the survivors, but we can’t feel the dust from the destroyed buildings in our mouths or see and smell the stench of the dead bodies lying in the streets, or hear the wailing of those who have lost loved ones, seen their homes devastated and lost everything.  We can try to feel their pain, but unless we have walked in their shoes, we cannot possibly know just how they feel.

Living in the UK and never having experienced an earthquake, I can only imagine what it must be like – and so all I can do is pray and give – and trust that the prayers will make a difference and that the money will help towards mending broken lives. But in all honesty, I don’t know how that country will manage to survive, but I am sure it will. The human spirit is very resilient and hopefully, the help needed will be there at the right time.

My husband and I were very moved when we heard that the wife of a famous footballer, Rio Ferdinand, had died as a result of breast cancer – NO – the sentence I have just written is completely wrong and I am ashamed that along with the media, I have assumed that someone’s status makes a difference.  It doesn’t!

She wasn’t just “the wife of a famous footballer” – she had a name and her name was Rebecca Ellison.  The fact that her husband is a famous footballer should not make a scrap of difference. Cancer killing anyone should be a cause for concern – and yes, the fact that she was only 34 years old and leaves 3 young children is dreadful – but surely we should be sorry that anyone that young, with their life in front of them, loses it to a dreadful disease.

“No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
…….any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind,
and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls;
it tolls for thee.”
John Donne : No Man is An Island – Meditation XVII

And then just a few days ago, we heard on the news of a 29 year old Rugby League player, Danny Jones, in the prime of his life, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest, leaving a young wife and 5 month old twins.

So many sad things happening and I ask myself what am I doing to alleviate the suffering that I hear about? Yes, I can and do pray and we do give to several charities so that aid can be given or sent, but sometimes, it’s not enough and we need to actually DO something.

Last weekend, I was down at Boscombe taking photographs – which is something I enjoy doing, as many of you will know.

Under the pier at Boscombe

Under the pier at Boscombe

I had been on the beach, under the pier and on the pier and probably took about 100 photographs, when I came across this sleeping bag on a seat underneath the pier shelter. There was no movement, and I noticed a young man sitting further along on the seat, having a quick cigarette. We got talking and I asked him if he knew if there was anyone under the sleeping bag. He said he thought there was, as he had seen him earlier in the morning and that he was a very old man, who had said he had nowhere to go. By this time it was mid afternoon, so the person inside the bag was obviously sleeping.

Is there someone in there?

Is there someone in there?

It was a very cold day – and although the sun was shining, the wind was raw, but the seat was in quite a sheltered position so at least I thought the man inside would be warm.

The young man told me his name was Reef – so named because his father owns the Reefside Cafe, just along from where he was sitting. We chatted for sometime and he said he had often seen the man who could hardly walk (which was obviously why he had a walking aid) but that he often came and slept on the seat.

A walking aid and a plastic bag

A walking aid and a plastic bag

I took a photograph and then went back to clean and comfortable apartment, and had some lunch and a drink. I had decided that my daily blip would be a sea or beach photograph, showing all the lovely things about Boscombe and had started writing up my journal, but I just couldn’t get this man’s plight out of my mind.

We didn’t have that much food in the apartment, as we were clearing everything out, but I had some chocolate cake that a friend had sent to us from Switzerland, an apple, a Lion bar and a drink so I put them into a bag and told my husband I was going back to see if I could find the man on the pier.

When I got back to the seat, there he was, sitting on the edge of the seat, with his blanket wrapped around his legs and the hood of his anorak covering his face, and pulled up against the cold wind. I was so pleased that he was still there. I sat down next to him and explained that we didn’t have much food in our apartment, as we were only there for a couple of days, but that I had found what I could and made him a little picnic. He smiled and thanked me and when he looked inside the bag said “I love Lion bars!”

Douglas

Douglas

We chatted and I discovered that his name was Douglas and that he had come down to Bournemouth about 18 months ago to find his brother and his mother. He had obviously had an altercation with his brother, which had resulted in the brother throwing Douglas out of his flat, so he was now homeless. He said he didn’t know where his mother was, and said she may even be dead, as far as he knew.

I stayed and chatted with him for about half an hour – he told me that he used to work in a park in Scarborough and that he had enjoyed that – I mentioned that my husband was a keen gardener, so we talked a bit about gardening and about how it’s good to see things growing.

A beautiful rose from our garden

A beautiful rose from our garden

He also told me that he had a chess set in his trolley which he took everywhere with him – he offered to give me a game, although he said there was a black pawn missing, but he quickly said that didn’t really matter. I agreed, but said that I wasn’t very good at chess.  However, I told him my husband was a good player, whereupon he told me to bring him down and he would “whap him”. I told him my game was Scrabble, so he said he was good at that too – I almost wished I had a Scrabble board with me!

Despite the fact that Douglas looked rather unkempt, I felt I wanted to sit next to him and just show him some kindness and compassion – although I hoped he wouldn’t feel patronised.  I don’t know how many people saw me sitting there with him, but I didn’t really care – everyone has a story, and I was happy to listen to Douglas’s story and so many people had passed him by and not bothered to even acknowledge him.  I did ask his permission to take a photograph and he kindly agreed but said he didn’t know why I would want to take a photograph of him – I said he had a lovely smile and that was a good enough reason!

Sometimes we can get so complacent with all the good things that we have but I knew that the “niggling feeling” that I had when I went back up to the flat was God speaking to me and telling me to go back down and find Douglas.

My husband is well used to me doing things like this, so I don’t think it was any surprise to him when I put my shoes back on and said I was going back down to the pier, having filled a bag with bits and pieces for Douglas.

I was truly blessed by being with Douglas, and perhaps some of you reading this might be surprised. Sharing God’s love and compassion is a truly humbling experience and even if I blessed Douglas, he blessed me more.  Despite what Reef had said, he was certainly not a “very old man” I would guess that he was in his early 50s but you will see from his face, that he has obviously had a hard life.

I did go back down the next morning, but he was nowhere to be seen – no doubt he had moved on because on Bank Holiday Monday there were thousands down at the Pier to see Bournemouth Football Team ride past their fans on a large open-top double decker bus.

I daresay if he had been there, he would have been “moved on” by those in authority – thinking that people and especially tourists don’t want to see “that sort of thing” – but you know, we sometimes need to see homeless people and their plight to appreciate that we are so blessed by all that we have.

The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people,
no matter how unimportant they seemed,
you did it for me.”
Matthew 25:40

A NEW LEARNING EXPERIENCE

I love learning new things and today I was taught how to make a loom band bracelet.

We visited Little Pickle Deli Cafe in Boscombe and a little girl was sitting at the next table with her parents. As it is a very small cafe, the tables are quite close together, so you can’t actually help speaking to those at the next table.

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Today was no exception, and I was interested to see that Isla was making loom band bracelets, which were all the rage a few months ago. We got chatting, and I asked her parents if it was all right for Isla to show me how to make a bracelet – they said it was, so she was round to our table like a shot!

It took me a while to pick it up, but she was a very good teacher, so here is my bracelet.

My first loom band bracelet

My first loom band bracelet

I guess things like this go in phases – when our boys were younger, it was playing marbles, collecting football cards and swapping the doubles and mastering the vagaries of the Rubik’s cube.

How can he make it look so easy?

How can he make it look so easy?

Going back even further to when I was young, the “in-thing” was to have a pocket solitaire game and jacks.

Pocket solitaire

Pocket solitaire

I am pleased to say that I am able to play the game of solitaire and end up with one peg in the middle – but the Rubik’s cube was just not something I could master, although I know our older son was very quick at doing it – I can’t remember our younger son doing it, but I daresay he did!

However, I can still type faster than my husband and sons, and it has been a constant joke in our family that if they can do anything I can’t do, I say to them “I can still type faster than you!”

Actually, thinking about it, does it matter? Of course not – and in our family, it is just a bit of fun, but sometimes we can make things like this the “be all and end all” of our life. We can say things like – “our car is bigger than yours” – “we have a five bedroom detached house in an acre of ground” – “we belong to the best gym in the area” – “I have at least 5 lenses for my top-of-the-range camera” – not forgetting “we have a 65″ television”!

At the end of the day though, we all have to stand before God and account for what we have done with our lives and the things we have been given.  Have we been kind and compassionate? How much did we help our colleagues at work? And what about our neighbours – did we help when they were going through a bad time or did we just shut our front door and let them “get on with it”? Did we let someone in the queue go in front of us, especially if it was lunchtime, or did we pay for someone’s coffee in the queue behind us?  I have done the latter on several occasions, but people often don’t know how to “receive” although they would willingly give to someone in need.  Actually, someone did that for me a few weeks ago, and I was really surprised!

Capuccino and cake

Capuccino and cake

Does any of this make a difference – or should we just let people live their lives and turn a blind eye to what is happening in our street, our town, our country and even in the world?

Disasters like the earthquake in Nepal make us realise that we can be alive one minute then badly injured or even dead the next – and then, however much our car or house cost or however many “things” we own, that will not stop bad things happening to us. It’s true that we might be better prepared for a disaster but ultimately, as the saying goes:

He who dies with the most toys, still dies.

So what counts in life – is it the fact that we have merely lived and accumulated lots of things and “stuff” and still hanker after more, or is it the fact that we have made a difference to those around us and any others we may have helped, many of whom we may never meet?

Envy

Envy

It is very true that:

The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it.
So what good is wealth—except perhaps
to watch it slip through your fingers!
Ecclesiastes 5:11

Life was so much simpler.....

Life was so much simpler…..

But Jesus said:

I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Is your life “full” or is it “full of emptiness” – perhaps we all need to take stock of our lives, before it’s too late.

The best way to live!

The best way to live!

The Post-it Notes are a selection of those I have been putting up in various places for the last year – in fact, since last Lent;  as a Christian, I believe that Lent is not just about giving things up but about making a difference to those around us by being generous with our time and our money, showing them God’s love, making them think, and sometimes even making them smile.

WHO READS INSTRUCTION MANUALS?

Are you one of those people who always reads the instructions when you get something new – or are you like me and just “wade in” and hope for the best?

Sometimes it’s good to be “hands-on” and just get on with it, but of course, the instructions are there for a reason – to help you get the best out of the product.

These days, most instructions manuals are online, but if I do want to read how to use something, like a camera, I don’t necessarily want to read it on a screen – I want what is called “hard copy” so that I can refer back as many times as I want to – I need to see things as they say, in black and white or even in colour!

Printed instructions

Printed instructions

I have had a little Panasonic Lumix camera for some years, and have managed with it pretty well, although the small instruction booklet that came with it was pretty useless and just about told me how to switch it on! I did want a bit more detail and so went back to the instruction manual on the CD – then decided that I would print off some pages so that I could grasp things better.

The same thing happened with my Canon SX50 camera – there wasn’t even a small instruction booklet with that – it was all on CD, so I decided to print off the pages that were most relevant. I now have a hefty tome of over 250 pages – and all done at my expense. I guess the manufacturers will tell us that if they have to print instruction manuals, the camera will cost more!

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Index for the Canon SX50

So has it helped? Well, sad to say it is mostly in “photographer-speak” which is not “my speak” – and I am struggling with learning about apertures and which is best for what shot, shutter speed and how to get the best out of the camera generally. I have watched videos on Youtube, as I guess most people have, but it still doesn’t seem to sink in.

So then what did I do – well, I asked if anyone would be able to help me – and a friend’s father kindly offered to meet me for coffee and go through the various things on the camera. It was really helpful to go through it with someone sitting next to me, and I learned a lot – but I still struggle.

WHY did anyone ever think that making things do the opposite of what one would expect would be a good idea. For instance, the smaller the f stop, the wider my aperture will be and therefore will let in more light. Surely it would be easier to remember that if the aperture is small, the light will be less i.e. small=less – that makes much more sense to me. But then I am a woman and I take things at face value – so I have to keep telling myself I will get it eventually, if I keep doing it long enough!

I have taken some reasonable photographs with the Canon, but it is rather heavy, and because my iPhone is always with me, I tend to take a lot of photographs with that – and am happy with that arrangement, unless I am going out specifically to take photographs and my husband is coming with me to carry the camera!

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This is a photograph of a local beauty spot, Liddington Hill, near the Ridgeway, and as well as taking photographs, I like to add a quote and “play around” to make it look good and then perhaps post it on Facebook to encourage someone.

These COULD be 3D glasses - if they were made up!

These COULD be 3D glasses – if they were made up!

This morning while I was doing some dusting (which is not a regular occurrence, I hasten to add) – I found on the television stand a box containing 2 pairs of 3D glasses – and thought I would just try them on – well no-one else was in the house, so I thought I could do it and have a laugh at the same time. I did think they would be “ready to wear” but no, they need assembling and whilst I am not a dumbo, I do find that picture instructions are almost worse than written ones! Again, perhaps that’s me being a woman, so they will stay in the box and anyway, I’m not that keen on wearing glasses over my glasses – but it wasted a few minutes and at least I know now where to find a new Lithium battery when the one on my scales goes on the blink. You might like to know that I did finish the dusting!

God's Instruction Book

God’s Instruction Book

Then I started to think about God’s instruction book – the Bible – and here is a photograph of my well used Bible that according to the inscription inside, I bought in 1991 – so it is now 24 years old. It is well marked and although I have newer bibles, that are pristine, I love this one because it has been through so much with me.

Inside pages of my Bible

Inside pages of my Bible

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My well-marked Bible

There are so many verses that are special to me that are marked – I wish now I had marked more with the date, but the fact that they are marked is enough – I know that where it is marked, it meant something to me at the time.

I remember someone saying many years ago, that if you don’t learn passages from the Bible, then when you need to remember something, it won’t come back to mind, because it was never there in the first place, and that is so true.

There is something in the Bible for EVERY situation in our lives – to uplift us, to remind us of God’s love, to encourage, to make us stop and listen or to gently move us on. It is God’s love letter to me and to you.

One of my favourite verses was given to me when I was baptised,

Just before I was baptised - I was a little apprehensive about going right under the water!

Just before I was baptised – I was a little apprehensive about going right under the water!

An exciting moment after I had been baptised!

An exciting moment after I had been baptised!

and I had forgotten that someone (and I don’t know who) had written it out for me:

Zephaniah 3:17

Zephaniah 3:17

So, after writing all this, I realise that reading the instructions is very important – in fact, if I get cross with something and can’t figure out how it works, my husband will often say “Why don’t you just read the instructions?”  Perhaps by NOT reading them, I am trying to prove that I know what I’m doing, but have to confess that’s not always the case.  However, I don’t think God minds that I just “wade in” – in fact, He is always there to “bail me out” if I need help – not that I use Him as a “Get out of Jail free” card, but it’s good to know that His everlasting arms are there.

I saw this on someone’s Facebook page a while ago, and it appealed to my sense of humour and just about sums me up:

Kicking and screaming!

Kicking and screaming!

Enjoy this beautiful song by Bethany Dillon and Nichole Nordeman – Sing Over Me: