Sunday, January 30, 2011

Turning the Turners

I learned to swim late on in life. I was not a water baby, or even a water preschooler, or water infant– more like a water adolescent. The venue was the swimming pool at secondary school. Arm bands and polystyrene swimming floats got me from one end of the pool to another. It wasn’t a big pool, but when a person can’t swim, the size of the pool is pretty much irrelevant. I am not sure that it was a deep pool either but I am sure there is a statistic out there that one can drown in six inches of water.

I watched an amazing swimming feat the other day on a wild life documentary. The programme in general wasn’t so much about wild life but wild habitats and how the human population who lived there managed to survive. They lived in the arctic circle. Halloween trick and treat night was made that much scarier by a polar bear roaming the streets!


One family were reindeer herders. For part of the year the reindeer migrate to new pasture. To get to the new pasture there is a two and a half kilometre swim for the herd to complete. There were three thousand of them stretched out in a line and the camera under the water showed a picture of many hooves pumping away, the reindeer version of the doggy paddle.

The herd were being followed by the herders in a dinghy. They were there to make sure that the herd made it to the other side.

For the older members of the herd, they had done it all before. They were big enough and strong enough to deal with the current. For the youngsters of the herd this was the first time – perhaps not the first time they had been in the water swimming, but certainly the first time they were swimming such a long distance. It was the younger reindeer that the herders were watching. Somewhere, out in the middle of the water, where the land is far off no matter which direction you are swimming in, the young animals begin to panic. Although they are swimming next to mum or dad, and close enough to rest a neck on another animal’s back, they suddenly get frightened. Maybe it’s that moment when they realise they can’t touch the bottom! They turn around and start to swim back the way.

The herders are there to turn the turners back to forward. They lean out to the boat, grab the head of the reindeer swimming the wrong way and force them to turn around and continue swimming in the right direction.

“Even if one reindeer turns around to swim back the other way…the whole herd will turn around and join them.” The commentator commentated.

This is a great illustration of solidarity! In this case, it’s not good solidarity. The herd even if they made it back to the shore unharmed would have to do it again some other day. Suitable days are not everyday and I suppose you have to do something to build up their fitness and energy levels for a second attempt. It is better to turn the turners.

The ones who turn are the young reindeer. They lack the stamina and strength of the older animals. They lack experience and the task becomes too big.

This idea of the whole herd turning because of the actions of one animal is just amazing. If one animal in a herd of three thousand turns, they all turn.

It’s nice to know, in some ways, that the one who turns isn’t cast adrift to allow the rest of the herd to go on its way. They swim together…in one direction, or they don’t swim at all.

Where they were headed to was new pasture – essential for their survival. It’s not something they can afford to swim away from – but they will if one of them swims in the opposite direction.

There is so much challenge in living a vibrant faith life. At times it feels like a two and a half kilometre reindeer swim. There is always a challenge just out of reach to stretch towards. The Christian faith was never meant to be limited to the four walls of a church building, or the lyrics and melody of a hymn. It is daily.

There are things of God, not always reasonable things, or safe things, or comfortable things, or easy things - and sometimes quite scary things. Much better, it seems to head for the familiar and the known – so we turn around. Maybe the rest of the congregation don’t follow – maybe some do – but we are no longer going in the direction that is essential for our faith the grow and mature. The rest may go on without us – indeed, some of us may wonder of anyone would notice our absence at all! What I am sure of is that their faith cannot grow and mature the way God intended because our input into their lives is not present.

Better not to turn. Better to rest our heads on someone else’s shoulder for a while. Better to remind ourselves that God provides all that we need for life and godliness through his great and precious promises. Better not to fight God when he grabs us by the heart, and not just the head, and turns us around.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Haggis Addresser and One of the Mels

I never got around to reading the BBC’s cyber advice on how to conduct a Burns' Night celebration and I suspect that MacCallums didn’t either.

Joe and I met after work with no fixed plans in mind. We walked past an Indian restaurant and decided to retrace out steps if nothing else appealed. There was a restaurant around the corner that was hosting a fiddler, but looking in at the window it was very packed, standing room only.

“We could pop around to MacCallums.” He showed me the ticket. It promised haggis, neeps and tatties and live music. It was in aid of a charity. If the food was merely a mouthful or two, there was always the chippy to visit afterwards.

I wouldn’t say that we are experts at Burns' Nights. We have done s few – mostly low key, without speeches. I think we have the edge on MacCallums.

A work colleague of Joe’s was holding up the bar, clutching a brace of Burns' poetry books. He didn’t just read them, but knew a few by heart. He was looking a bit doleful as the woman behind the bar was doubtful that anything “cultural” was going to happen. The juke box was blaring out music and lights pulsated around the dance floor.

It wasn’t the biggest of public bars and seating was kept to a minimum, so we stood at the bar. There wasn’t anywhere to put a jacket and a scarf so I kept them on. I suppose I had all the appearance of someone not staying.

Joe and his work friend swapped Burns' trivia while I stood nearby. I was hot and working my way through a glass of the guest whisky – not a single malt, I suspect. I hadn’t eaten since lunchtime and the whisky had nothing to mop up. The trials and tribulations of the day were becoming fuzzy around the edges.

An hour or so later, the barman asked Joe is he was willing to address the haggis. There would be a piper, the haggis would be paraded around the room, Joe was to wipe the wee sword on a napkin, address the haggis and then kill it. This was all new to Joe. An hour and a half ago we were looking in the window of a restaurant and addressing haggises was not on the agenda. It says something about the confidence that Joe exudes – he is a man that steps in.

Joe’s work friend lent one of his books to Joe. It had the address to the haggis in it, and Joe took a while to read through and practice.

He stood beside the table while the piper piped and the haggis was taken around the room. Then, with the barman holding the microphone, Joe did his bit.

He was impressive. No one looking on would have known that…an hour and a half ago we were looking in the window of a restaurant and addressing haggises was not on the agenda.

He did the business and was wildly applauded. He caught the tone perfectly. He has a tendency to rush through things when he has an audience and a microphone – but the boy did good.

Not a mouthful, but piled high, the haggis, tatties and neeps were wonderful. I passed on the red wine and onion gravy because I have a habit of missing the mouth sometimes and hitting the front of the jumper.

We were off…live music? Apart from the piper, there was still nothing. The juke box was back to blaring out music.

Someone really needed to step up and take the night by the horns and give it a good shake. It was all rather a bit disorganised. Joe’s friend volunteered to recite a Burn’s poem. Perhaps “Tam O’ Shanter” was not the best choice. It’s a bit long. I don’t know whether there is a link between how much alcohol you consume and how quickly your attention span deteriorates – but the crowd were not really listening. I thought that just the feat of reciting the poem was awesome, but there was a lot of talking. The longer the poem went on, the less confident he was in his delivery. He cast a couple of desperate glances in our direction. I think he regretted stepping forward. But he reached the end and was applauded – not quite the rapturous applause that Joe got.

Half an hour later, the live music began. There was a man and a guitar and a microphone and a well known folk song that people could dance to and join in the chorus. That, to my mind, was the right time to introduce “Tam O’ Shanter”. He would have got a hearing then. It’s all about timing.

So, what about “One of the Mels”?

Big George is a friend of ours. He works at the recycling centre. A week or two ago Joe has been in MacCallums after a day away in Edinburgh at a union meeting. He and another colleague, Joan, had just arrived back in Inverness on the train. They stopped off for a quick drink before heading their separate ways.

“Hi, Joe…Hi, Mel,” said Big George, assuming it was me standing there, with glass in hand.

Tonight I was introduced to Big George as “one of the Mels”. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the humour.

And...

A very good night was had by all...apart from the friend of Joe's who recited the poem.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Laughing at Nonsense

My old Weight Watchers leader would turn in her grave – if she was in her grave, which she isn’t. I broke a cardinal rule – something that has been drummed into me over sporadic attempts at loosing weight.

Food should not be used as a reward for good behaviour!

Indeed, I was tempted and gave in. Someone at work said she was going into town during lunchtime and asked if anyone wanted anything bringing back. I was drowning at the time – under a sea of test papers - the contents of which were rather dismal. I had reports to do and groups of people to organise later that day…a little incentive was required.

We talked about the size of the bar. I marked out with my hands – so wide, so long – and assumed that we were both thinking about the small bars – five or six squares. She misunderstood the hands and came back with a much bigger bar than I anticipated.

I laid down a few ground rules as per consumption of the bar. I resisted the urge to tear off the wrapping and stuff the whole thing into my mouth. I carefully doled out one square for every four or five reports written, or bits of test paper read, digested and commented on. I was strict with myself. The sea of paper diminished slowly and I reached the dry land of the desk.

The comfort gained from the taste of chocolate melting in my mouth took the edge off the disappointment of the test papers. It seemed that more than a few of my learners had departed from the path of learning and had fallen into the pit of “dunno”.

I swatted a few accusations batting about the brain, that it was my fault, somehow, that they hadn’t learned the stuff. I had faithfully done my bit – and more. Truth to tell they were the faithless ones and hadn’t done their bit. Such truth didn’t bring that much comfort.

“Don’t you just laugh at some of the nonsense people write?” someone asked.

I probably would laugh if there were no league tables or targets to meet.

I got to musing about the whole “laugh” thing. It seems to me that sometimes laughing is not always appropriate. I am not talking about funerals and sad occasions. I am not talking about humour at all really.

When I went to secondary school I was placed in a middle stream of ability. Looking back, I was perfectly placed in terms of ability. The trouble is, my best friend at the time was in a top stream, and I wanted to be in her class. There were no transfers in those days until you took your options at the end of fourth year. I worked hard. I worked hard to get out of the middle stream and prove I was top stream material. Failure was not an option and low pass marks were not laughed at but mourned.

Kids today….rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…I suppose that just because I am met with shrugged shoulders and, what can only be classed as “celebrating the failed test”, doesn’t mean that when they are on their own, out of the limelight of their friend’s approval, they don’t actually mourn the fail. I suspect not. But the joy of failure annoys me. It is not part of my mental make-up.

The opposite of laughing is probably crying. Maybe I don’t laugh at the things people write, but that doesn’t mean that I should be crying either - making myself responsible for the things they didn’t write that they should have. They chose to write what they did, just as they chose to forgo revising and chose throughout the year not to apply themselves to work.

You may take the student to the book, but you can’t get them to read it! You may present the material with technicolour powerpoints and a few dozen interesting five minute youtube extracts but whether they learn it or not…

Laughing at the nonsense suddenly seems a good idea.

Make way for a dozen light titters, a loud ho ho, a playful ha ha or two, a sprinkling of hee hees and a snorting honk.

I'll try not to sound too unhinged!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Down There...Somewhere

I stand at the edge of the cliff
Looking down
Dizzy

I think I just pushed our friendship over

Just because I didn’t hear
It shatter and break
On the way down
Doesn’t mean it didn’t fall
Just because I cannot see
Fragments or
Clouds of dust
Doesn’t mean it’s not
Down there
Somewhere

I am left desolate
I can’t imagine a day
A moment
A single breath
Without you
The knowledge that
I failed to cherish
Something precious
Leaves me devastated

Saying sorry is inadequate
But I say it anyway
And more

Tell me, I plead
That there is something to salvage

Forgive me, I cry

Your word promises that
What’s broken
Can be restored

I beleive Your promise




(Inspired by Psalm 51)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Undiminished Enthusiasm

I received a book journal for Christmas this year. It has all the appearance of an address book, with the alphabetical tabs along the edge. I am encouraged to fill a whole page with the book title, the name of the author and his or her nationality, the day I read the book and whether the book has any awards or was translated from another language. There is a huge space for a quotation and another huge space for my opinion of the book along with a five star rating system.

I have made just the single entry so far – “The Winter Ghosts” by Kate Moss. It’s a very well written, but very sad ghost story.

Our bookshelves are turning into a library – sometimes with multiple copies of the one book. You see, I love browsing the book shelves of charity shops. I will pick out a book, read the blurb on the back cover, allow my imagination to be ignited and buy the book – and then find that I bought the book a number of months ago – or years – perhaps even read it. My memory, never that great at its peak, is an inconsistent beast.

I am not quite ready for my next entry but I have found a quotation. The blurb on the back is about a shooting at a Salvation Army concert in the middle of a Norwegian city centre where the assassin realises he shot the wrong man. I am just about half way through the book and the shooting – and the realisation he has the wrong man – has just happened. Yes, it is slow moving.

“Harry had once said that what separates a good detective from a mediocre one is the ability to forget. A good detective forgets all the times his gut instinct let him down, forgets all the leads he that he believed in that led him nowhere. And pitches in, naive and forgetful again, with undiminished enthusiasm.”

As much as my memory forgets sometimes the essential things, the things that it seems to hold onto, with a fierce tenacity, are the not so good things. I remember the things people have said that have upset me or criticised me. I remember injuries done, deliberate or accidental. I remember disappointments and failures. The trouble is that I have gone over things in my mind, reconstructing conversations – the truth as I saw it – without realising that I have been revising it in subtle ways. My recollection of what happened that day is probably not what happened at all! Don’t call me for a witness at a trial – I will crumble at the cross-examination.

“The ability to forget” is something that is not just good for good detectives, but for us all. I am not sure when, perhaps as a teacher, my enthusiasm diminished. I dare say it wasn’t one single event, but the steady, slow drip of years of dealing with difficult classes, or teaching lessons that I had never really got my head around. I struggle with the ability to forget.

I think about all the areas of my Christian life and whether my enthusiasm is undiminished. I am not sure that I am the one to ask. If I say “No” you will perhaps say, “Show me the evidence!” If I say “Yes” you may perhaps seek to encourage me by sympathetically patting my hand.

My enthusiasm may not always be demonstrated in being the first to volunteer of something, or be shown in my presence at every meeting that happens. I may not always pray in the prayer meeting, or sing in the worship sessions, or take reams of notes as the preacher speaks – but those things are not indicators of my enthusiasm.

I have a desire to draw closer to God and invite him into my waking, eating, walking, working, cleaning, reading, writing, talking, resting, sleeping parts of my life – not just the singing, praying and reading the Bible bits.

Giving God unlimited access to my life means there will always be new challenges that will call me to “pitch in, naive and forgetful again, with undiminished enthusiasm.”

God sets the ultimate example in forgetting by placing my sin as far away as the east is from the west. Maybe forgetting is the wrong word. God chooses not to remember these things. His enthusiasm to see His purposes come to pass will always be undiminished

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tatoos


I have been thinking of getting a tattoo – just thinking, mind. I am not half way to the tattoo parlour with an image on my mind and a place on my body where I want it put. It is purely a mental exercise that will never be translated into action.

I know a lot of people who have tattoos – I’m related to a few of them. It has never been something that I have wanted to do. There is nothing that I want to have written or drawn permanently on my skin. It’s not like you can rub it off when the novelty wears off.

I have a friend who has a tattoo down the front of her leg. It is some kind of flower. It cost a lot of money – money that she can ill afford. She is now saving up to have the flowers coloured in.

Another friend who is well on to her seventh or eighth tattoo, rather than going for a picture this time round, or some kind of hieroglyphics in a long dead language, is heading for a quotation written on some untouched part of the body.

The idea of a quotation has rather caught my imagination. I have been thinking of short but apt Bible quotations. After over thirty years of being in the faith, I am sure that I am not going to defect the dark side so I won’t need to think about removing the tattoo.

“Fearfully and wonderfully made” is my current favourite.

Maybe there is a company that does dabbities – the ones you lick and stick on to your skin for a less permanent effect.

Of course, the next question is where to put my quotation. Shoulders and bums seem to be the popular places. There is plenty of space on the bum right now – we could go for some fairly big lettering and still have room for a tasteful illustration. However, I think I want to be able to read it. What’s the point of having a tattoo where you have to do contortions in front of mirror to see it? Why should I be the only one not to be able to read my inspiring quotation?

“Rather than proclaim that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in neat black ink on some part of your anatomy,” said God in His still small voice, “why don’t you proclaim it through the way that you live your life? Live life gloriously because you are fearfully and wonderfully made!”

So I guess I’m not getting a tattoo after all.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Duties That Are Ours

I am into the last few days of my Christmas holidays. Work is peeking around the corner and the relaxed pace of life that I have enjoyed over the last couple of weeks will be cranked up to “manic”. Suddenly life will take on the appearance of a white knuckle fair ground ride, with weekends to catch my breath.

Did I start the holiday with a “To Do” list to work my way through? Not really. The house was clean for a while. The school reports never got written. Only today did I get round to phoning a joiner to replace the bathroom door. We are having visitors in February and I suppose we can’t expect them to put up with all the little inconveniences that have become part of our lives – like singing loudly in the bathroom to let someone know it’s occupied. There’s no lock on the door and it doesn’t close securely either.

There is a thing that is hovering in the background waiting for my attention. It’s not exactly tapping impatient feet, or pointing to its watch – but it is there, expecting some kind of action. I hesitate to spell it out, to give it a name, or describe it in any detail because then it would know that I know it’s there. Right now, I’m playing peek-a-boo.

A couple of days ago I was following some links from a friend’s blog. She had posted a link to an article at www.peaceforthejourney.com - "Entrusted - Word for 2011"

Something in her opening paragraphs caught my eye:-

We all need jobs that belong to us… need a focus and a reason to stir our hearts into action each day that we live on this earth. Without our attachments along these lines, we default to couch-livin’ and ample tears. We pass on the duties that are supposed to be ours rather than living out the responsibilities that are within our reaches and tethered closely to our hearts. God made our hearts for good work—for putting our hands to the plow and breaking up the unplowed earth beneath our feet. He understands that faith is best preserved when faith is liberally sown. Thus, he’s given each of us a job.

“We pass on duties that are supposed to be ours”. I find that to be extremely challenging.

Later on in the week, listening to UCB radio while cleaning the living room, the same truth was expressed in a song – “I refuse” by Josh Wilson

I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
I could choose not to move
But I refuse


I am stuck on the line “I could choose not to move”. I make that choice in so many ways, and I want to move on to “But I refuse”.

I know far too many people who seem to move on. What they do is not what God calls them to do, because for many they don’t know God yet. They recognize and respond to something that tugs at them. Maybe for a while was hovering in the background waiting for their attention. Maybe they played peek-a-boo with it for a while…but then there came a time when they stopped playing.

I don’t want to pass on those duties that are mine and say to God, “I chose not to move.”

Friday, January 07, 2011

Marching Out His Army of Stars

At about 7.30 this evening, I stuck my head out of the front door and glanced upwards. I wanted to check that there was a clear sky. Then I scuttled back into the house, made a thermos of hot chocolate and put on a second pair of socks. The plan was to go stargazing.

Earlier on in the day, while listening to the local radio, I heard the invitation to join the Astronomical Society in looking at the stars. There were other things on offer to do on a Friday night – a local church was hosting an evening of top class bands. Created by “Open Doors Youth” – it seemed aimed at a younger generation, and even if the older generations were also invited along, I was sure it would be loud and throbbing. The stars were calling to me!

Isaiah 40:26 “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

The Astronomical Society has a website. I took a while looking through the gallery of the photographs of the stars they had taken. I even watched a two minute video of the stars in the sky. Nothing moved – I thought maybe they had caught a shooting star or something. It was the same patch of stars – for two minutes.

I read the page about “Star Gazing Etiquette”. I could do the dressing in layers, the hot chocolate and walking around waving arms to keep warm. I worried a little bit about parking beside the gate if I wanted to leave early. There was a 300 metre walk that required a torch. It was the torch that worried me. They were very insistent that the torch had a red light rather than a white one because it took the eyes twenty minutes to adjust to darkness and if you shone a white light, no one would see the stars quite so well for the following twenty minutes. I decided to just blunder around in the dark.

It seemed as if everyone and his next door neighbour took up the invitation. I arrived on time to discover the small observatory and its compound teeming with people and telescopes. Those that didn’t have telescopes had binoculars, and they were all looking upwards, pointing out various constellations to the uninitiated.

I have to admit that even without a telescope or a pair of binoculars, the sky with all the stars was just glorious. There were so many of them, and the more you looked, the more stars there seemed to be.


There was a slow moving queue to look at the big telescope inside a small observatory. The lens was fixed on Jupiter. I thought it was slightly out of focus, but the expert assured me that the problem was not the telescope but the atmosphere. I am used to seeing photos of stars and planets multi-coloured and dramatic. I guess I have seem too many episodes of Star Trek spin offs. My momentary anti-climax at seeing this small pale ball, with a dark band around the middle – Jupiter – was overtaken by a sudden realization that I was seeing something that was far, far in the distance. I thought about all those stars out there, and how some of them probably no longer existed. The light I was seeing in that spot was hundreds and thousands of years old. Amazing!

This is the handiwork of the God that I know.

In the words of The Message, He (God) marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name - so magnificent! So powerful! - and never overlooks a single one.”

It’s a big army!

And yet...

The One who takes the stars and flings
Them wide for all to see
Creation balanced on His palm
Yet still He cares for me

Sunday, January 02, 2011

If I really Knew

If I really knew
If I had carefully listened
And understood
The things that I have been told
From the beginning
I would know
That You sit enthroned above
The circle of the earth
That the rule of politicians
Prime ministers and presidents
Is fleeting, just a sigh
It’s Your power that
Puts the stars in the heavens
Each one named and placed and known
And what you do for the stars
You do for people
Each one named and placed and known
If I really knew
This
Would I complain?
Would I insist
My way is hidden from You?
If I really knew
You are the everlasting God
The Creator of the ends of the earth
Who doesn’t weary or tire
Who alone understands the deepest things
I would reach out
To grasp the strength You offer
To feel the power surge
Of connection
Then I would soar
Competing even with the eagles
I would run
Not stopping to hold my knees and snatch at air
I would walk
Secure and unassailable

These things I should know
These things I should understand
These things that I have been told from the beginning
These things…

I know.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Delight and a Joy

My husband moved into a new job earlier on in the year. The old job had been handed over to another branch of the Scottish Office to do, and, although he had the opportunity to move with the old job, he opted to take on a new challenge. I think the problem was that management, to be honest, didn’t really have another job for him to move into. So they created a new job for him. His new boss, a lawyer commissioned by the Commission, needed an administration assistant, but hadn’t really sat down and worked out exactly what assistance Joe could offer. As it was, the old job connections were proving more than a little challenging to close down. The other branch of the Scottish Office was new to Joe’s old job and the old job connections preferred dealing with someone who wasn’t new to it.

Eventually, my husband sat down and wrote out his own new job description and the goals he intended to cover in the coming year. The new boss nodded his approval and Joe settled into meeting his goals.

For about six months he had felt like a rudderless boat – drifting and directionless. Once he knew what it was he was aiming towards, he relaxed in his mind.

I do have a rudder to my boat in life’s ocean, although I act as if I am rudderless. I have a direction to head towards, but sometimes it requires me to row against the tide, and so I am inclined to drift.

Thinking about New Year’s resolutions I planned to make them vague enough so as not to put myself under pressure and to make them achievable at different levels too

1 Tim 3:1 holds my first one - “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” I aspire not to be an overseer, but simply “to aspire to be” something. All the “aspiring” was taken out of the equation a number of years ago when someone confusing the church with a rapidly expanding business venture had us fill out forms and on the basis of the results, assigned us to a task that made best use of our skills and talents. At the time I aspired to join the worship team, but because my results didn’t swing that way I was denied access. I was firmly put into the teaching team – my day job was stretched to cover Sundays too.

The form filling has since been thrown into the bin and doors opened wider to aspire to something other than what the results say you can be. So “aspiring” is back into the mix.

I don’t think I want to aspire to one single thing in particular at the moment. I think I just want to have a “will do” kind of attitude, that doesn’t look around the room to see if there are any hands up from other people first before I make my move.

Isaiah 65:18 is my second plan. God speaks of creating a new heavens and a new earth. “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” The delight and joy refer to Jerusalem and its people, but the two words struck a chord. I have known people who have been a delight and a joy to be around. I wouldn’t say that I am quite the opposite with misery and heartache – but there are times when I am not a delight or a joy. I am somewhere in between. It is God that will do the creating in me, but I need to cooperate in His work.


My final plan comes from the chapter of a book by John Orthberg “When the Game is over….”. The title is a lot longer than that. The book is a comparison between the “Christian” game of life and principles about playing games generally. He is an entertaining writer. The chapter “Be the kind of player that people want to sit next to,” talks about monopoly. It’s not a game that I enjoy playing because I am not ruthless enough to win. However, he suggests that it is not the ruthless player that really wins in the end. They may win the game, but lose in the winning. Monopoly players, apparently, don’t like to lose to “browbeaters, insulters, know-it-alls and inconsiderate players”. I am not that kind of a winner – if I win at all, I feel very guilty. To win, someone else has to lose. The book recommends being a person that others don’t mind losing to because they don't rub anyone’s nose in it. It’s about living life graciously and dealing with people in a gracious way. It also includes losing graciously too and not bearing resentment and grudges.

I want to be that kind of a person.

What exactly did I say about vagueness and not being put under pressure? What I have written looks very sharp and precise and I see "pressure" stamped all over it.

BUT I don’t do this alone! It is God that will create these things in me if I will surrender to His hands.