Well hello again little blog

Well hello little blog. I have missed you.

Here I am sitting on a train from York to Edinburgh watching the beautiful late autumn colors roll by.

This time just over a month ago I would be nearly at the end of my work week, juggling too many balls. Instead I am on a three-week adventure to connect with my British heritage of early dark and late sun-rise, dazzling Christmas lights and the promise of snow.

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Those of you that have followed this blog will know that I made the decision to go back to work full-time about 9 months ago. Best work place, amazing vision, the genuinely nicest people. Yet circumstances have led me to reluctantly put that aside (at least for now) and go back to a slightly altered version of my life for the last couple of years.

Turns out just when you think you might be able to commit yourself fully to work, things don’t always go according to plan – now there’s a surprise.

The catalyst was one of our dogs developing diabetes. Diabetes for a dog is the same as Type One diabetes for a human. there is no managing it with diet, it’s straight onto twice daily insulin injections and a pretty intense schedule of working with your vet in the initial period to get the dose right.

It is not an exaggeration to say this changed our lives over night. The injections have to be given as close as possible to 12 hours apart, food must be measured, walks must be strict and the possibility of a diabetic crash lingers closely in those first few weeks.

My wonderful workplace said I could bring him into work with me as he couldn’t be left alone. He was a very popular visitor to the office as he is very cute and loves people. Deep down though I knew this wasn’t a long term plan as he was slightly stressed by the process and it was hard to juggle taking him to various meetings.

So with heavy heart I resigned my position but we developed a two day a week position that meant I could look after Bosco, and still contribute in the form of important but not so urgent projects that needed to be bought on line.

However this catalyst became a domino on the move and I found myself weighing up work with all the other things going on in our lives – a house renovation, travel, my husband’s very full-on job, the birth of yet another precious grandchild and the announcement that there was another due early year. All good things but all that meant that something had to give.

Unlike many  people I am in the weird position of not having to work unless I want to,  so for me the question is nuanced and in some ways more difficult. I have had  several other grandmothers say that if they didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t. Yet we work for other reasons than just the financial ones and that made my decision hard. I like working, making a difference, being part of something bigger than myself, workplace banter, even wearing ‘work’ clothes. But I kind of knew as I went through the praying and thinking process, that for this season it made sense to step down for a time –  maybe permanently – I don’t know.

That was just over four weeks ago and my life has been full of  getting used to having a pet with diabetes, hanging out with our children, their little ones, my friends,  and appreciating all this  in a way I didn’t before I worked full-time for the last eight months. Also time spent catching up on all those things that don’t get done when you are both working full-time!

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Which brings me up to now. The amazing  trip  I am currently on was planned while I was working but I have been able to extend it for another week now I don’t have to fit it into annual leave.

And it is ‘I’ and not ‘we’ as it is a trip to the cold dark  Northern hemisphere winter (spurred by the  promise of a visit to a friend and the desire to see what Christmas is like over this side of the world) that did not appeal to Wayne so he graciously suggested I do it by myself – but more of that in my next entry.

It is a very big solo adventure for me!

 

Something has changed

I’m not one for writing about politics on my blog. Indeed until recently I barely made or responded to any political statements on FB. I wasn’t going to write this, especially as I could find someone who says it better and just re-blog,  but it  won’t let me go.

Here in NZ I vote for our centre-right major party, always have and probably always will.  I am a Christian and  am morally conservative on most issues.

Like almost everyone else  I know I have followed the American election; for me initially with fascination, and then with increasing concern. I have found myself agreeing with many of my more left-leaning friends, both Christian and other. I have to my surprise waded in on FB on topics that I wouldn’t normally. I have read many articulate (and some not so articulate) outpourings from all parts of the political spectrum.

I really don’t know how I would have voted when forced to chose between two such flawed candidates (and I think that may be why so many people didn’t vote). I did take an on-line test to see if I was a Democrat or a Republican. I answered as conservatively as I could – turns out I would probably be a Democrat! Which goes to show that the concept of left and right in politics all depends on where the centre is defined.

I do not want this post to be about being anti Donald Trump. While I really (really) did not want to see him in the Oval Office, I do not doubt the legitimacy of his presidency. I’m not happy he is now in charge of the free world, and I am very concerned about the implications of the Executive Orders he is rushing out, but he has been elected and that is the reality both the USA and the rest of the world all need to work with.  I have certainly been praying for him and his advisors –  that they would lead with wisdom and integrity.

What this post is about is that somehow, by being drawn into this process, I have become aware that there are some things I care very deeply about and some things that I should care more deeply about. The act of thinking about American politics, and the implications of campaign promises, has made me look at everything I believe in both as a Christian and a citizen of this world. I have been challenged to look at my own hidden racism and prejudices, to try and work out which tenets I hold are based on a cultural view of Christianity, rather than what Jesus actually envisaged.  I have been forced to articulate to myself some of the things I vaguely stood for. Turns I’m actually far more complex than I thought.

So can I be a conservative yet liberal, Christian? Both deeply pro-life but also understanding that pro-choice is important too? Aware of the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism but sympathetic to Syrian refugees? Is there such a hybrid? How do I work that out in my life, in my dealings with others, in my everyday choices?

Even the fact that I feel that I need to get these disorganised thoughts out is a very big change for me.  I feel challenged and stretched. it’s quite painful and I don’t know where the stretching will take me. I am actually quite excited – I feel like I am finally growing up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent Musing #3

In praise of the ordinary.

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here in Auckland at this pause point of the Easter weekend, and I have been thinking about the last entry in the Lent app I have been working my way through during the lead-up to Easter. The final reflection  summed up what I have been trying to articulate in these Lent thoughts. The writer states that if we spend long enough in the desert we can let go of the illusion that we are somehow more special than others. That is a powerful challenge to my own sense of self-importance and one that I haven’t mastered by a long shot!. And then I read this:

The devil sometimes puts ambitious desires into our hearts, so that, instead of setting our hand to the work which is nearest to us, and thus serving Our Lord in ways within our power, we may rest content with having desired the impossible.
 – Teresa of Avila

I had to read this several times to really start to understand the implications of this.
I mentioned last time about how our online life is cluttered with quotes inspiring and urging us to live a life of greatness, and we hear it in our churches and schools as well. There are so many powerful stories of people doing great exploits in both the Old and New Testament, and definitely people are called to do amazing things, go on epic adventures and lead lives of huge influence.

But I do often wonder about the countless unnamed men and women in the Bible. The many Israelite families who followed Moses into the desert and bought up their families as they trekked for 40 years. Those people Jesus touched,whose lives were transformed, bodies and minds healed, who went back to their villages and families and lived out ordinary lives of service and worship. The thousands of new Christians in those very first New Testament churches who walked a new way – a way that was radically sacrificial and often dangerous. We will never know who they are, and whose lives they impacted (in this life at least).

And what if that is what purpose means or most of us – to serve where we are, to set our hand to the work nearest us, to be faithful in the little things, to worship God for the simplest of blessings and ordinary miracles He bestows on us every day?

Jesus turned down the power and riches the Devil offered Him while He was in the desert. I don’t just think that it was because He had access to riches and power beyond anything Satan could give Him; but to show us(me) that success and the validation of our (my) own importance we (I) so often strive for can be a deception and an illusion that we(I) can also walk away from.

After successfully resisting temptation, Jesus then came out of the desert  and set about building relationships with ordinary people. He told stories of ordinary things that people could relate to, made disciples of ordinary people, and was executed in an ordinary (brutal) manner of the day. Paul later spoke of the fruit of the Spirit – such simple and ordinary virtues that transform the lives of people when they exhibit them.

As we celebrate a risen Christ tomorrow, I will also be thanking Him for my ordinary life and the opportunities I get to set my hand to the work nearest me; and praying that I will become much much better at seeing them and acting on them, rather than dreaming of potential greatness.

Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things…as to do ordinary things with the perception of their great value
– Teilhard de Chardin