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  • Dogged Determination...!

    Today I decided to give Quorn Mince another go - I'm still not a huge fan of this stuff, but it is quick and easy to create healthy meals!

    My latest attempt was a big improvement on the past but still a long way to go on seasoning (sort of mince and tatties but not quite!).

    I guess that's a bit like faith sometimes... we persevere with the practices that we know are healthy, even when they don't 'taste' that great, even when they lack a little 'je ne sais quoi'.

    Perhaps we all benefit from tweaking the seasoning, or trying new herbs/spices from time to time... and perhaps it's no bad thing to be reminded that faith, like anything  worthwhile sometimes depends on dogged determination...

     

    God of all creation,

    It's easy to say that we need the feeding of scripture, prayer and worship;

    But sometimes it's all dry and dull and tasteless.

    Give us both the determination to stick at it when it seems unsatisfying

    And the willingness to try new flavours, that just might turn out to be tasty!

  • Another turn of the seasons...

    I took this photo a few weeks ago, when I first noticed the leaves starting to change colour.  In my personal calendar, this is always significant, a reminder that another year has gone by since the fateful day in 2010 that changed my world view forever.

    This photo, taken a couple of days ago, is the same leaf now a richer shade, and still holding fast to its tree with no sign of dropping for a while yet:

    autumn leaf 2.jpg

    Ever since I was a toddler, I've loved watching the leaves change colour, ending one season's growth.  As autumn progresses and the leaves fall, I enjoy waiting to see how long the final few will hang on, defying the forces upon them.  And every spring, I delight equally in looking for the first signs of new growth.

    Somewhere in all of that I find cause for joy and celebration at my own continuing life, along with a measure of 'pause' as, in my own small way, I defy 'forces' and remain in the (decreasing) good part of the statistics for another year.

    I've come a long way in the seven years since I was diagnosed with cancer on 23rd August 2010, I have much for which to be grateful, life continues to be good, and I'm still a NED.  Perhaps I will yet prove to be one of the tenacious leaves that clings on into the winter - but whatever the future holds, I believe I am truly blessed.

     

  • Going Deeper - with Mother Teresa

    My Own Story

    When Agnes Bojaxhiu was a child in Skopje, no one could have imagined that she would one day become something of a celebrity, let alone be officially recognised as a Roman Catholic saint.  Her dramatic experience of being called, and determination to follow that through, would shape the rest of her life, and prove hugely influential on a global scale 

    • When I look back on my own childhood - however recent or far away that was – how much of the way my life has worked out as I, or others, would have expected?
    • Can I identify any significant moments that informed the direction my life took – achievements or disappointments can each lead to wonderful possibilities
    • As I look back on my life so far, for what am I especially grateful?

    Public and Private

    Like many of the heroes we’ve encountered in this series, Mother Teresa was a complex woman with a strong public persona alongside a troubled and painful private life, which she endeavoured to keep hidden.  After her death, personal letters revealed her struggle with ‘darkness’ and a sense of God’s absence.

    • A lot of us fear being ‘found out’ for who we really are, assuming that people will reject or ridicule us. What is it I keep hidden away for similar reasons?
    • After an intense experience, came silence, and this left Teresa bewildered – had God abandoned her? Why was God silent?  What part do my emotions or feelings play in my faith?  To what extent am I dependent on ‘feeling’ God’s presence in order to believe?
    • Mother Teresa maintained her outward life of prayer, contemplation and worship even when it felt that no-one heard or cared. What might be the benefits of maintaining rhythms of prayer or reflection in my own times of darkness, silence or emptiness?

    Saint or Sinner

    There is no doubt that Mother Teresa’s work touched the lives of vast numbers of people, and inspired many to respond, often sacrificially, in seeking to support or emulate her work.  There is equally no doubt that the work she did, and which continues to be done in her name, is open to justified criticism.  Her determination to enter the experience of the ‘poorest of the poor’ also meant denying them options available to the ‘rich’, such as washing machines. She did what she believed to be right, but perhaps lacked the ability to be self-critical when it came to her work.  At the same time, she tried to see the good (or potential for good) in everyone.

    • How do I view Mother Teresa? How well informed is that view?  How generous or gracious is that view?  How do I hold together truth and tenderness in my evaluation of her or others?  How do I do so in my evaluation of myself?
    • Jesus reminds us that it’s easy to see the speck in the eye of someone else and miss the enormous plank in our own. Do I honestly appraise my own endeavours?  Am I brave enough to invite others to review or critique them with me?  If someone wrote about my life’s work, would they record a saint, a sinner or a blend of the two?  How would that affect the way I live now?