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Thursday, 31 January 2013


Another birthday guest post, this time from Harv ...

In an age when we’re all looking for the spectacular, seeking the next big thrill or the next brush with celebrity, and accumulating a list of experiences to the tick off from the list (been there, done that, got the mobile phone pic), it’s all too easy to overlook the mundane, the quotidian, the ordinary.

In the Christian calendar ‘ordinary time’ is the time when there are no big festivals or celebrations, a season of quiet growth and maturing.

And a dictionary might tell you that the ‘mundane’ is the opposite of ‘spiritual’. But that just might not be the case. If perhaps the two are not incompatible, but two sides of the same coin, we need to find ways to glimpse heaven in our daily work, rest and play, to be attentive for clues of redemption, rumours of glory, and signs of heaven touching earth. Where ordinary becomes extraordinary.

In the words of William Blake:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Or “heaven in ordinary” as George Herbert wrote.

And ordinary people, living ordinary lives, in ordinary days, make a difference. In 1937 a letter placed in the New Statesman invited people to join a project of ‘anthropology at home’, asking them watch and study ‘the behaviour of people at war memorials, shouts and gestures of motorists, anthropology of football pools, beards, armpits, eyebrows and female taboos about eating’. The organisation ‘Mass Observation’ was born, recording everyday life in Britain and challenging the notion that history consists solely of the lives of great men.

From these tales of regular folk to the birth of a boy to a carpenter in a town in the middle of nowhere, history has changed through the sum-total of ordinary people’s actions.

Yesterday I finished reading Middlemarch. The last paragraph echoes the same sentiment: ‘for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs’.

Monday, 28 January 2013

winter walking



daresbury. where nature sits aside industry and imagination is fueled.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Looking back

Last weekend I wrote about how I was going to try and live differently on a Sunday, and Monday I was able to post the pictures I had taken on the Sunday as I had wandered down the garden.

So how did the rest of the week go after having that period of stopping on Sunday? I'd like to say it was an easy week, one which I had just glided through after stopping on a Sunday. The fact is, life never goes to plan. There was a major crisis at work which caused added stress, plus out of work life seemed to be on permanent fast forward, and I struggled to keep up.
By Saturday I was exhausted. So- no difference then by doing things differently on Sunday? The difference was that last Sunday as I sat down to read the bible the words Isaiah 54 v10 leapt out at me.

' Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace removed' .

I'm struggling to take in what that 'covenant of peace' means, as doing everything in fast forward can mean I frequently lose sight of peace. But this week I've prayed around that, I want to claim that promise of a covenant of peace no matter if the mountains are shaken.

The other thing I've been aware of is the change in mindset. Yesterday I was already thinking about jobs that needed doing so I wouldn't have a list to-day. It's like a watering hole once a week; that I'm now just longing to get to. Last night Ellie said 'are we going to do this week what we did last Sunday Mum, I liked that'. That made me feel good, especially after stress levels being high at the end of the week.

The snow has now gone, and the heaviness of white in the sky has cleared to blue. On my kitchen windowsill a little bit of spring sits.

In their simplicity they are beautiful, but also a sign spring is coming. Out of living Sunday differently I can see a small breakthrough, a change in pace. This week I'm going to continue to circle in prayer that covenant of peace.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

snowy monday


what is it about snow? it makes everything look like the best version of itself. well, certainly when the first snow falls it does, not once it turns to slush, freezes and then becomes a treacherous ride, not then, no. but it does make everything look pretty and i like that.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Look what I found......

So, on Sunday following my commitment to do things differently, I stopped. I sat and watched a film in the afternoon, read a book and played cards.

I also found the time to wander through the arch to the bottom of the garden:

It was worth stopping and making the time.


Sunday, 20 January 2013


today i went walking again with my friend di. before we arrived at our destination i had to stop the car. as we drove roads that twisted and turned i saw something i had never seen before. something that made me stop the car to go back. 

as i continued driving we had to stop again. this time we both got out.

as we were walking away from the car a lady coming past on the other side of the road slowed down to ask if we were alright, fearing we had broken down. we explained we had stopped to look at and take photographs of the icicles. she told us that the road had flooded and as temperatures plunged and cars drove through the water it had sprayed up onto the hedgerow and had frozen in place. it was quite a sight to behold; ice stalactites dripping from english hedgerows. a great start to our winter wonderland walk.



I've been challenged through Redemptions beauty to re-think how I spend my Sunday. I long for rest, for space for time to recover and replenish both body and soul from the challenges of the week, yet I never take that time, or space, and certainly have not thought for a long time about what it means for Sunday to be a day of rest.
Last Sunday I had resolved to spend more time with family, to not do 'jobs' and to live Sunday differently. So, I did really easy food, no washing and even managed to sit down for an hour in the afternoon. However, what I did notice was how much stuff I still actually did. Online food shopping order needed updating, emails that 'had' to be replied to, posting messages on Facebook, homework that  had to be completed. It took me by surprise, I hadn't realised how much I still did on a day when we are instructed to do nothing.

Yesterday the snow hit England, and brought an unexpected halt to many normal activities.

The result of this is that two things I was supposed to be doing tomorrow have been cancelled. I've also peeled vegetables tonight so they are done for tomorrow, done my planning for youth group early, and tomorrow am not going to be visiting Facebook, and most definitely no washing will be done.

This was the view from my kitchen window yesterday:

This arch leads to the bottom of the garden, where I very rarely make time to go. At the bottom of the garden it is mainly overgrown trees, but within that there are a few hidden gems, nature that makes you stop and appreciate it's beauty. Tomorrow I'm going to go and wander to see what the snow is like at the bottom of the garden, but mentally as well I'm going to leave the busyness of the week behind with all it's stresses (did I tell you about the angst to find a camera for a school trip or an elastic band for homework? Really I must tidy) and move through the arch through to a place of rest, of observing that Sunday is different.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

what's in a name?

today i returned a call to someone called pam. it turned out the 'called while you were out' message was taken incorrectly, the lady who wanted to talk to me was called tammy. we laughed about how badly wrong we had got her name. she told me she was called tammi after tammi terrell, her mums favourite singer. i told her if she was going to be named after any tammi that was the tammi to be named after. she agreed only her name was spelt the plain way; not with an i but with a y. like tammy wynette i said. yes she said. the minute she said tammi terrell into my mind came her duet with marvin gaye "you're all i need to get by". i spent the last hour of my working day singing the song in my head. so here, on a cold and almost snowy thursday night be transported by miss tammi terrell not once, not twice, but three times. enjoy.


Monday, 14 January 2013

asking for help

last week i found myself sitting down to this

cheese and biscuits alongside christmas chutney accompanied by a glass of wine. i'm sure that my house is not the only home in which christmas treats are still being got through be it cheese or a box of chocolates. the cheese and biscuits and the wine, they are all gone. the chutney? well, the chutneys still sat on the side in my kitchen.

see those marks on the label? the rip? that's where the ring i wear on my thumb took the label off. why? because i couldn't open it. i tried until my hands were bright red and sore. i tried until my nails dug into my skin. frustrated i cast it aside in favour of another chutney i had been given as a christmas present. i guess there is nothing unusual about that. but. that jar of chutney has been winking at me all week. every so often i would pick it up and try and unstick it. i used a cloth. i used a tea towel. i used all the force i could muster. exacerbated, i resorted to shouting "oh come on!". no, still no joy. i left it to one side sure all my effort would loosen it telling myself "i'll get it next time". nope. it didn't come off the next time either. 

i needed help.

the thing is, i'm not very good at asking for help. ask anyone close to me. i have been brought up by a strong woman. that strength is a good thing. i am an independent woman. it's just sometimes i am too independent. i think i can do everything alone. more than that, some days i think i have to do everything alone. never before has there been such a life lesson sat on my kitchen work top. i still have cheese to eat. i wanted to taste the chutney i bought to go with it. only i couldn't do it alone. the lid was stuck and so was i. if i wanted to eat it i needed to ask for help. finally i did. yesterday. it took me five days to ask. five days. i knew i was independent i just didn't realise how stubborn i was too. (it's a family trait, how on earth i thought i'd avoided this trait is beyond me.)

the cheese is out of the fridge, coming to room temperature. the wine is open and is breathing. tonight after a stressful work day i will sit down and taste the delights of asking for help. i'm quite sure it will taste the sweeter for it.  


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Birthdays, Mindfulness, Friends and A Day of Rest

Hi a red letter day for 'what are days for', their first guest speaker.  I'm Peter, husband to Jane and I've agreed to do a blog today in honour of my birthday.

My day began pretty well!

Breakfast in bed and the promise of pie later, all made by my daughter from base ingredients of course. Although I expect mum helped more than she was taking credit for.

I found out the weirdest thing today, I'd known since last year that I shared my birthday with two twin daughters of a church friend, as I did with my grandmother, but imagine my surprise when I learned from a friends Facebook post that his children, also twins shared the same birthday.  I can't imagine there can be many of us who have friends with two sets of twins in their near circle, never mind two sets which both share your birthday.  Pretty wacky! (Incidentally it is more common than you think though since Jane also shares her birthday with twins we know well).

I've planned this day for some time, working out logistics, agreeing and shopping for presents and then imagining what I'd do with the day.  But something Jane had said earlier in the week made me rethink my plans.  Today was Sunday and as such I resolved to rest.  Sure thing my friends came round as planned, we watched TV and chatted, running through our plans for future weeks and catching up on the latest stories of injuries and progress (we all run a fair bit).  But my aim was to approach it restfully.

I think in a life, probably more than it should, the values of capitalism and achievement consumes time and attention in a way that I think is different from that God intends.  I'm a fan of audio books and love a breadth of reading.  Right now I reading a book on being Free from Stress and Fear.  The emphasis of the book is about daily being present doing what you are doing, rather than skipping forward to your future plans or leaping backwards to past recriminations.

Good advice that and this picture sums up where I was and what I was doing when this struck me, 4 miles from home on a cold January evening, being 'out for a run' the irony of being precisely at that point in the run when I stopped to change clothes and noticed this sign made me smile!

So 44 years old today and that is precisely four times the length of years from when this picture was taken.  This is my old secondary school form class from 1980.  This picture was significant in my week since it represents a remade connection with my cousin, albeit Facebook only.

He is third from the left on the middle row, myself three more along looking particularly cute with the large ears and jet black hair is me.  I reconnected with most of this class through Facebook now and occasionally we reminisce about school and people thinking where they are now.  For the record most of our lives see to have panned out as we would have guessed.

So while we are thinking about rest, mindfulness and blogs here is my plea to you all.  My son Jake and I share a few bands which we both like but many more on which our preferences differ wildly.  This song and the lyrics were particularly poignant on at least three levels for me.  Imagine yourself saying to your son, your father to you and Gods instruction for life and blogging.

"Take that Rage
Put in on a Page
Put the Page on the Stage
Blow the roof off the Place"

And just for the record, I case you think God isn't into that and all we see in the world.  Try Pink's view on for size it'll blow your mind!

"God is a DJ
Life is a Dance floor
Love is the Rhythm
You are the Music"

Then watch this!

  Best wishes and blessings Peter.

saturday night light


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Little Treats

Sometimes you just need those little treats:

To help make those dull jobs.......

A little bit more appealing.

Happy Saturday,


Thursday, 10 January 2013

yesterday morning, tonight.

there is no doubt this week i am slow. slow to get back into the old routine. i work in a small team. i am the only one who has gone back to work feeling as if i didn't have enough time off. i was off for over two weeks. this either means i was in dire need of a break or i did to much with my time off. i think it was a bit of both. yesterday i was back in my groove. noticing the small things. the mild temperatures dissipated yesterday, stepping outside i noticed the spiders had been busy. it reminded me of jane and of sitting with my sister in law at her kitchen table this holiday, watching a spider spin its home on her kitchen window; effortlessly, methodically and beautifully. caught in a traffic queue on the way to work i noticed the contrast of the bare trees, against lines bringing communications to homes along my route all against a backdrop of a fog laden sky.

tonight my shoulders and neck are tight after a day working at my computer. i arrive home, kick off my shoes and light scented candles that were a present this christmas. i consider sitting down to read my newly arrived vogue. but not yet. what is it about this makeshift home desk that pulls me in? creativity? expression? deadlines? whatever it is i pour a glass of wine and sit down, down to edit photos for a friend and nurture this space again. enjoy your evening friends.


Sunday, 6 January 2013


presents, nap, park action, playing, laughter, picnic, hot chocolate, football, nap, film, music, standing, first step, cake. happy first birthday lenny.