Sunday, 26 January 2014

Eleven years, eight days...

                Early Sunday evening, and I would love to lay down and take a nap; but it is too late for that.   I got back to the house about 3.30 pm—which would have been an excellent time to have a kip.  Especially since “The Maverick” is working this evening.  Instead, I check my e-mail, played card games on my computer and checked the TV guide listing for tonight.
 Inside my mind waged this little battle of laziness verses determination to write a blog post.  Hmmmm…to give into my sleepiness and satisfy my lethargy, or live with the guilt and disappointment from a lack of disciple and nothing to show for my afternoon?  Which option do I prefer. 
                The “I shall persevere” won. 
                Today is Sunday, 26th January.  Eleven years  and eight days ago The Maverick and I exchanged wedding vows at Indianapolis Christian Fellowship on a snowy Saturday afternoon.  The morning started out bitterly cold, clear skies and sharp, biting wind.  Carrying a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich from McDonalds, I trudged through the re-frozen snow of the church parking lot to the building.  I was the first one there—arriving about 9.30 am. 
                By 2.30 pm that afternoon, the temperature had dropped a bit, the winds had brought grey, snow-laden clouds.  I stood at the back of the church, next to the coat racks, listening to the Twila Paris song, “He is Exalted” playing over the loud speaker, and watched my bridesmaids proceed into the sanctuary. 
                The back doors closed, and I walked to my place, on the arm of my friend’s arm.  The music swelled and the doors opened.  I looked at “The Maverick” and “Major Will” (who was officiating the ceremony.)  “Major Will” had and ear-to-ear grin on his face.  “The Maverick” had dropped his jaw, and I could see his eyes fill with tears of joy. 
                During the ceremony there were moments of quiet reflection, moments of laughter and moments of rejoicing music.  I don’t remember all the finer points throughout, but I do know that at the end of the ceremony we were husband and wife. 
                Last Saturday, 18th January, “The Maverick” asked me if I wanted to invite anyone to join us for a meal out—to celebrate our special day.  We asked “Ms. Celia” to join us.  “Ms. Celia” was kind and provided a lift to the restaurant to which we went—Le Bettola--
                I worked at Worldspan Inc. in Hayes, Middlesex from 2004 to 2007.  I commuted to Hayes on the 81 bus daily, which drives by Le Bettola every day.  “The Maverick” rides his bike past the restaurant on his way to work at  the airport.  We wanted to find someplace other than the regular eating places we have eaten at before.  This was a celebratory meal.  When he asked me if I wanted to go there, I was delighted.  I’d wanted to eat there for years. 
                Only one other family was in the restaurant when we walked in, which seemed curious; that is until I realised it was early, only about 6.30 pm.  The 7.30 pm, the place was busy. 
                Le Bettola is a traditional family-run establishment, with bed and breakfast rooms available upstairs.   The atmosphere is an interesting balance of rustic yet contemporary.  The back part of the restaurant is a banquet room that can be reserved.  But for this evening, it was open.  It is actually a conservatory with a grape vine growing along the ceiling rafters.  In the summer the vines actually have grapes which are used for a house wine. 
                Seeing as how I am tea-total, I ordered lemon aid.  “The Maverick” and “Ms. Celia” shared a bottle of house wine.  The drinks came with bread, butter and a dish of olives with chilli.  Although I usually don’t like olives, for the sake of the evening, I ate two—which were flavoured with garlic as well as chillies.  The bread was warm, the crust crunchy. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

The prayer from Sunday's service.

Yesterday was Sunday.  Once a quarter I have the privilege of leading the intercessions during worship service.  I quite enjoy writing prayers, because I am not just writing what comes to mind--I am actively thinking about what to pray for and how to pray.  

Often, as I think about my family, my community and the world, words seem elusive. But, I praise God, because He interprets my desires, intentions and hopes.  

When I'm writing the intercessions for church, I know He is
inspiring and leading me.  I know that when the congregation hears and agrees, God's throne is filled with the incense of faith.  Not that single smokey wisp of a slender stick of incense, (which is my prayer), but rather a great plume of smoke that is passion, belief, hope and trust that our God is faithful to answer.  

With that in mind, it is my hope that your belief and prayers are added to this intercession, which I said yesterday.

Reader: Father, we lift our hearts to you
Response: Use us to touch the World.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, and in union with Jesus Christ, let us pray to the Father:
Father of Amazing Grace and love, your promise is to hear us when we pray through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. 

Thank You, Father, for meeting with us today.  We lift up your body, The Church.  We pray for :
Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
Arch Bishop of York John Sentamu
Area Dean, Rod Cosh
We pray that they will lead the church prayerfully, with discernment, wisdom and creativity imagination?.
Robin & Juliet—for times of refreshment, rest, encouragement and wisdom and energy to use the many opportunities they will have to import experience and training to those they meet in Kenya.  We pray you will protect them as they travel. 
Bruce Russell and Colin Hartley as they fill in the gaps whilst Robin is away—that they will have grace and strength, and experience your healing Presence. 
Roger Witney-- We give thanks for his willingness to serves us during our search for a new music director and ask for your blessing on him.  Father, please bring ministers of music to our parish, to serve at St. Mary’s and Christ the Worker. 
We pray for Christian Unity in our parish, our country and the world.  Bless our ties with other congregations—Holy Family Church, the Free Church, and many smaller congregations who serve our community.  Grant that we would be one in vision and one in purpose—that of revealing Your love to the world. 

Reader: Father, we lift our hearts to you
Response: Use us to touch the World.

Father of Grace and Mercy, we pray for our Queen, Elizabeth.  (Thank You for blessing her with many years of good health, as she has sought to faithfully serve the nation.  Thank You for blessing her marriage to Prince Philip, serving as an example of commitment in marriage and family.)
We pray for our Prime Minister, the House of Commons and Members of Parliament, and the House of Lords.  Lord, You often guide us—even when we seem unaware of Your Presence.  (Raise up men of influence—like Ezra, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego—to speak Godly wisdom to our leaders.)  We Pray that our government leaders will seek to have moral integrity, servant hearts and minds who seek wisdom as well as knowledge.

Reader: Father, we lift our hearts to you
Response: Use us to touch the World.

Almighty God, we pray for the world: 
South Sudan, Egypt, and Syria:  Once again we pray You would raise up “Men of Peace” and “Men of Influence”, who possess the skills of negotiation, arbitration and peace-making.  May these men and women seek to bring equity, justice and mutual respect for all parties involved; that cooperation will be established and all races, religions and ethnicities can live openly and freely together.  We pray the peace-makers will not weary, but that their strength will be renewed daily. 

We pray for the rebuilding of Haiti, as that country still struggles to establish an effective infrastructure.  Pray that missionaries who have been working long-term will find renewed vision, procure necessary resources to continue their work.

We pray for the rebuilding of the Philippines, Viet Nam and other countries damaged by the super typhoon, Haiyan.   We pray for those who grieve over the loss of family, friends, homes, businesses, and health.  Send those with a long-term vision to direct the work of aid workers and rally the local community to contribute what they can. 

Reader: Father, we lift our hearts to you
Response: Use us to touch the World.

Heavenly Father, we pray for our local community.  Make us aware of those around us who are lonely—and seek to become their friends.  Thank you for the many cultures and races represented in our community.  We ask that You help us to build bridges and better understanding between neighbours.
We pray for:
Langley Neighbourhood Forum—that you would raise up more people to contribute to the voice of Langley residents
Langley Community Coffee Shop—that friendships would deepen and flourish, that those who would benefit by attending would discover it and join the weekly meeting
Around Langley Magazine—that all those who contribute to its production, promotion and distribution would be encouraged.  We pray that those who read it will be inspired to build stronger community by becoming more involved in the many community service projects

Reader: Father, we lift our hearts to you
Response: Use us to touch the World.

Lord, Your Name is like ointment poured out.  We pray for those who need healing of spirit, healing of mind, healing of heart, healing of body.  

Loving Father, comfort those who grieve
The loss of a loved one
The loss of employment
The loss of health
Those experiencing divorce.

Provide faith, hope, courage and peace to them. 

Father, we thank You for the lives of those, in the faith, who have recently died.  Thank you for their faithful witness, their influence and their love.  With Christ, we remember them, as we partake of the gifts. 

Lord of heaven and earth, we commit ourselves into Your loving hands.

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"


Monday, 13 January 2014

Weekend Review

          Monday is a good day to do laundry. A load of laundry is tumbling in a warm dryer, and another load is in the midst of a three-hour cycle which includes a pre-wash stage and then the regular wash.  Another load is on my bed ready to be folded and put away.  I must confess, laundry is not my favorite thing.  But I am so thankful for an electric washing machine and dryer.  I just want to get it caught up, because I want to spend more time writing this week.
          Sometimes this flat is so quiet is feels lonesome; especially when The Maverick is working double shifts.   
          But this past weekend was not one of those times.  On Saturday The Maverick worked an early shift; he arrived home about 2.30 pm.  I was delighted to know I wasn’t going to be alone.  But he was not to be my only company for the evening.  About 4.00 pm, the buzzer twiddled annoyingly, announcing that “Mr. Biz,” “Chantilly” and family had arrived.  Since we hadn’t been able to get together over Christmas, we were having a late exchange of gifts. 
        Their gifts were the result of the Gingerbread Village that appeared in my kitchen mid-December.  I was surprised that I was able to cut out enough pieces to put together seven houses—although I made only six.  My step-children are always please to get the gingerbread house.
          At the time of their arrival, I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen  and was about to start cooking dinner.  I heard “Cookie” ask, “Where’s Nana?” 
          “I’m right here!”  I said and cheerfully received a hug and kiss. 
          As I was getting a cuddle from “Lolly” I looked up to see “Chantilly” standing next to her dad, just inside the door.  In her right hand was a seven-week-old Cocker spaniel puppy.  “Chantilly” had told me on Friday that little Lexie was coming.  Okay—tiny puppy—cute to be expected.  Only I hadn’t been prepared for just how sweet and pleasant Lexie’s personality is. 
"Lolly" on the floor, ""Beau", "Jam-o", "Cookie" & "Man Cub"
          “Bell Man” stayed with a friend for the weekend, so “Jam-o” was able to make this trip up.  Because “Jam-O” likes cooking, I conscripted him into Kitchen duty.  I chopped celery, onion, garlic, and courgette (zucchini) while he opened tins of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans.  After which, he stirred the mince (hamburger) while I finished the vegetables.  Once the soup was on, “Jam-o” followed orders and did the washing up whilst I got a big pan ready for making cornbread.  He followed the recipe, making a batch-and-a-half.  Dinner was completed with pasta, which I knew would be a good option for the youngest, in case the chilli was too spicy.
          “Man-Cub” is about 17 months old—and he really liked the chilli.  Not too spicy for him! 
          We sat around chatting until bed time.  The Maverick finally managed to get into bed about 11.00 pm—and was hoping for some solid sleep as he had to be up by 3.00 a.m. Sunday to be at work by 5.00 a.m. 
          Sunday morning “Chantilly” went over to “Floss and Harry’s” flat to meet the youngest addition to our family; grandson, ”Enzo”.  On 16th December, our 18th (yes, I wrote eighteenth) grandchild was born.  “The Maverick” and I met him on 27th December.  Since “Chantilly” and company live of the southern coast of England, this was her first opportunity to go and meet the little boy who was born exactly on his due date.  “Mr. Biz” stayed here with the children and puppy. 
          A visit to “Chantilly’s” uncle was next on the agenda for them.  However, “Lolly” and I got to spend some quality time bonding in the kitchen.  We made a “Black Magic” cake .  (for the recipe click here: 

         Now the cake making was interrupted by the whining of Lexie, as she too was left behind.  I tried leaving her in her carrier, but she cried so much I was too distracted to concentrate on the recipe.  So, I blocked her into the kitchen with us and found my toy dog.  After a few minutes, she finally settled down and fell asleep.

        As I said, I was distracted by the dog, and giving “Lolly” instruction.  And I poured the cake batter into the pans.  At which point “Lolly” asks:  “Can I lick the spoon?”  (Who would say no to that face?)
          “Yes, of course.  Is it good?”

          Looking chagrined, “Lolly” shook her head “No.”
          So, I had to taste it. 
          “Lolly!  I left out the sugar!”  We got the sugar out, measured out the right amount and divided it between the two cake tins. 
          I’m happy to report that although the cake did not look pretty, it does taste really nice.  J
          Our friend, “Astrid” arrived about 2.30 pm.  I’d made arrangements for her to come for dinner with The Maverick and myself.  “Astrid” was kind enough to simply go with the flow and enjoyed cuddling Lexie, chatting with “Lolly” and drinking tea.
          “Mr. Biz rang the buzzer about 4.00 pm to pick up “Lolly” and Lexie. At that point I could quickly cook dinner.
          “Astrid” left about 6.00 pm.  And the quiet returned to the flat. 
But I just loved having family with us—a treasure. 
I pray your weekend was as enjoyable.  
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"