Monday, May 30, 2005

This I know...

For once I am up to date with the my Bible readings - I have caught up! There was a moment there when I thought I would just have to throw in the towel. I Chronicles was was almost my downfall - in that it contained unappealing lists of things, but was also what what caught me up - no interesting little side lines to loose myself in! That is my problem - I like to stop and look at the view, examine the flowers as I walk, but in doing do I get left behind! I Chronicles is chronically short on distractions!

John 9 proved a good distraction. It's about seeing and not seeing and thinking you see when you don't and knowing you don't see and wanting to. I was reading through it thinking about Shona - about being blind to the resources that God makes available. Then God quietly pointed out that I was just as blind - not seeing the resources he has made available to me. I have been reading the New Living Translation and it has a way of putting things in a much more poetic way thatn the new International version - it appeals to the writer in me!

The first step in seeing is in wanting to see. I visited Shona this afternoon. I wasn't sure that I wanted to, but I am aware that I see her for such a short time, and lately always with the children. I haven't had time to talk properly with her for a while. You see what you want to see - if you have come to the conclusion that someone is taking advantage, then everything you see is looked at through that lens - and you "see" things in a particular light. I think that the enmey was kind of hoping I would just see what he wants me to see and not look for what was really there. Being with Shona today, I erased my notions and theories about what she was or wasn't doing. She is stuck somewhere inside herself and moslty unable to do anything about it. There is also a little bit of unwillingness too. For Shona the fear of the pain and discomfort of the cure outwieghs the familiar current pain she is experiencing. The cure - facing up to the past and all its horrors - is far worse than now - the not eating, the children taken out of her care. I just pray that God leads her to the way out of it.

Knowing that she wouldn't allow me to pray for her, I asked if she would pray for me! Tomorrow is the new timetable and new classes. I am not looking forward to it and feel unprepared. She stressed that it was an "emergency" and allowed herself to do it! On the whole though, she is keeping her distance with God.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Sprints and Marathons

Patrick was competing in the Primary Inter-School Sports day today. It was a very cold day and not the kind of day one wants to spend outside watching kids running around. Different Primary schools had been groupd together to win different cups or shields.

Patrick was in just two of the races - both of them quite late on in the afternoon. He came second in the 150 metres and first in the 4x100 metre relay. The school didn't accumulate enough points to take the trophy, but they gave us a run for our money!

To while away the hours and deal with the boredom of waiting for Patrick's races, Joe and I bet 10ps on the outcomes of the earlier races. Some of those children can run very fast. I think we just about had an even number of wins and losses.

Then Joe disappeared to watch Celtic playing Dundee United in the cup match.

After the sports were finished, the children and I went up to visit Shona. Patrick may have been doing a sprint - but Shona is involved in a marathon! I don't think we are any closer to seeing an improvement in her condition than we were four weeks ago! I think to some extent that seeing the children helps to remind her just what she has to get better for. She enjoys seeing them, and they have a family time together while I sit outside and gaze out of the window and read old magazines. One magazine - Closer - was so image obsessed it was frightening! It is no wonder that so many women have poor self images when they are confronted with diets, wieght loss and glamour. They feel that they will never match up. To see these magazines in a mental health hospital seemed to be even more offensive!

Actually, I don't really think that Shona is competing in a marathon. I think she is just a spectator! She is not a participator at all. She knows that so much depends on her in terms of getting better, but she is not doing anything about it! She says that she is waiting for something to happen or click or something.

I think it is us - the children and us - Joe and I - who are competing in the marathon! I suppose that there gets to a point in a race that you hear the bell that tells you it is the final lap, or you can see the finish line coming up ahead so you speed up a little! I don't see anything like that with Shona - there are no last lap bells or finish lines on the horizon. We just keep putting one foot in front of another and keeping on moving!

I know that what we are doing is appreciated, but there is a little voice inside that tells me that we are being taken advantage of. Knowing that the children are safe, knowing that we will not let them be taken into care, I feel that Shona is just sitting back and letting us do it. There is no incentive to get back on track because we are there looking after the children. I am not so sure that I can talk myself out of that thought! Then I think that it is such an ugly thought that I shouldn't be thinking it at all. I guess that just goes to prove that I am human!

Talking it over with God, or should I say mumbling about it in God's presence, I felt God was not judging me for the thought, or looking at me with disapproval, but saying "If you can't look after the children for Shona's sake, then just do it their sakes, and for Mine!"

Does there come a point when what you do to help another person really just adds to the problem? When does helping become hindering? Then I think that it is not just Shona, but the children. Whatever theories I might have about Shona, it seems unfair to abandon the children to the social services. Perhaps I just need to make Patrick and Shannon's welfare my one concern and stop worrying about what Shona is or isn't doing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Report Writing

Writing reports is supposed to be easier and quicker now that it is all down to putting in codes into boxes. When the codes are downloaded into another program called Markit they are changed into comments. There is a tendency for things to sound very impersonal and I don't think it is time saving. I have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel with my first year reports!

Having said that I have picked out a few codes that just might apply to me. Gs are general comments. Ps are priorities for development and Ss are strengths.

G21- "recognises and accepts that there are different points of view on religion and morality." I know that there are some people that believe everything is either black or white and they could be right. At the end of the day there are different views, and some of those views are definitely right and some are assuredly wrong. I know that my views have changed over the years. I think that I am a lot less brittle than I used to be and perhaps more tolerant - perhaps!

G47 - "has the potential to do better, but needs encouragement to develop pace of work and complete tasks in an acceptable time." I was thinking in terms of curriculum development. I am supposed to be developing a unit on stewardship and the environment. Progress is very slow and deadlines come and go. Monday is the next deadline - will it be done? May be.

G63- "is easily distracted and therefore often fails to complete tasks properly." I have to say that I have many balls in the air, many plates spinning on poles and many thumbs in many pies. Maybe if I just had one thing on the to-do list it would get done. I am reminded of Jesus words to Martha - about being distracted by many things and not choosing the one thing that is needful.

P40 - "Needs to ask for help when required." That speaks for itself. I don't do enough asking - not just from God, but from the people he has placed me beside. It doesn't have anything to do with pride, or hating to feel inadequate. I am a very self sufficient person. I can remember thinking about times when I have testified about overcoming a difficult situation - sometimes the difficult situation would not have arisen if I had involved other people. Sometimes also other people are blessed by being the part of your solution.

P43 - "Needs to improve classroom behaviour." I seriously believe that teachers to some extent create the classes they end up with. Sometimes I am the one that creates the atmosphere in my room by the way I act and react. I did an experiment to test this. With one first year class I have adopted a different way of dealing with disruption. Rather than hand out punishment exercises that I would forget to chase up, the punishment was swift an immediate - telling a joke or singing a song in front of the class. Believe me, I had some pupils begging to be given a punishment exercise!

P80 - "Should pursue individual extension work." The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles has a line about increasing the land or extending the boundaries. I think we all need to push out and extend the boundaries. In view of recent events I thought that come September I might enroll in a evening class for car maintenance. Then I might be less clueless about cars. In the old Harpers keep fit centre they had a poster on the wall about growing. The picture was a Japanese mountain scene with a tree growing out of the vertical side of a ravine. The writing part of it was how growth comes by trying something you've not done before. I can't think how a tree growing out of the side of a mountain illustrates that! I might be a bit mixed up here - there were lots of motivational posters about the place! If you want to grow, you have to be prepared to stretch yourself!

S16 - "Has developed effective investigation skills." This one comes about by having sermons sprung on me! They are not sprung - two weeks notice is not springing anything on anyone! Preparing for sermons makes me dig a little deeper into the word. I like looking at what the commentaries have to say, but I also like to find out my own revelation on things too. There is no better way to learn something than to teach it to someone else!

S51 - "Demonstrates enthusiasm." I just can't help it. If you got Nobel prizes for enthusiasm, I would be in with the running! I can't be cool and collected and aloof and detached about anything! I can't always do what I want to do - like every race I ever ran in, I might have been enthusiastic about, but it did not make up for a lack of ability! I still came in last! This reminds me of my favourite character in the Bible. There is a man called Baruch who just gets a line in Nehemiah - he built his bit of the wall of Jerusalem with great enthusiasm. I can imagine the people responsible for the bits of the wall on either side of him. Other people's enthusiasm for a project can be very inspiring!

S57 - "Tries hard." This reminds me of a comment Joe made years ago. Peter O'Toole was asked once what he would like to be remembered for - his roles in Shakespeare perhaps, or playing Laurence of Arabia maybe? His reply was that he would like to be remembered for being kind. There are some people who are kind like Joe. I asked him if he thought I was kind. His reply was "You try to be." For some people, part of their genetic make up includes "kind genes". I find it easier to be unkind - not deliberately so, I don't go out of my way to think of something unkind to say or do to people - except perhaps with my third year classes at school. I don't always think about the effect my actions might have on others. I am getting better at it.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Amish at Edington Road

Saturday was all planned out - a shedbuilding, BBQ and Eurovision Song Contest weekend. We had invited everyone we knew to bring their hammers and saws, their burgers and hotdogs and their Eurovivion Song Contest Scoresheet!

The shed wasn't going to be delivered unitl early evening, so one family made thier excuses and stayed at home. Another family turned up anyway ready to do whatever was needed. Joe had disappeared for a meeting with Fergus Ewing to discuss union stuff. He had a bit of "Joe time" afterwards.

I didn't know whether to tell Cliff and Michelle to go home - no shed, no Joe and no BBQ either, as it was still in Marks' shed from the last church BBQ. But Joe and the shed turned up almost in perfect synchronisation. It had been built to order and came in five bits - the four walls and the roof. It was like playing with giant lego, slotting the bits together - but not without a hitch and the next door nieghbour stepping in to save the day.

Joe got badly injured. We were carrying flagstones from the car to rest the shed on when Joe slipped. He hurt his knee, and his hand and he cut his eye and he broke his glasses (and Celtic have just broken his heart by loosing to Motherwell in a SPL league decider. They needed to win as Ranger was hot on thier heels. The Sons of Darkness won thier match - the pits!)

The next door neighbour, Ralf came to the rescue, leaping over the wall, with the dog following behind him. Between us we managed to get Joe on to his feet and nop up his injuries.

The shed was fitted together in real Amish style! The girls held the spirit level, everyone held up the sides until they got nailied inot placee. It was excellent and all it needs is a few layers of paint and preservative.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Worry Worry Worry

Joe once had a dog that he insisted talked. I am sure that lots of people think their pets talk. I seem to remember a long time ago a dog entertaining the nation on “That’s Life” by saying the word “sausages”. Joe’s dog did not say anything so inane as “sausages”, but leaned his head on Joe’s knee and said, “Worry, worry, worry.”

At the time, I think Joe had just come back from the hospital after having an operation to remove an in-growing toenail. His foot was swathed in bandages and Joe was looking miserable and uncomfortable and in pain.

I feel that this week, if Joe’s dog was still around, his head would be resting on my knee and he would be repeating “Worry, worry, worry.” There have been times this week when I have felt the world on my shoulders. For the most part it has focussed on Patrick and Shannon, but the car needing to be repaired has also added to burden. I can cope with a number of things if they happen one after the other, but when they all flock in like a swarm of locusts, I begin to loose it.

I decided that I would find some time to do some catching up on the reading plan I am following. ! Chronicles is a bit of a slog with all the lists of people. In among it all there are small gems. Jabez and his prayer is in there. There is also a little verse about the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manessah.

1 Chronicles 5v20 reads “They cried out to God during the battle, and He answered their prayer because they trusted in Him. So the Hagrites and all their allies were defeated.” It caught my imagination, the idea of crying out during the battle. Sometimes the enemy takes a sideways swipe at us that we are not prepared for, and it is in the heat of the battle that we cry out for help. God answered their prayer because they trusted Him, and their enemies were defeated.

We all know that we shouldn’t worry. It accomplishes nothing positive, but we still do it. I like it when God shines a little light that directs us back to him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When the carriage turns into a pumpkin and Cinderella has to walk.

It was a day that promised much but delivered little! I have kept away from the first year field trip for the last few years. For the most part it hasn’t been intentional, but I tend to loose the form we have to fill in and with reports and new timetable changes, I tend not to look too hard for it.

This year I didn’t loose it. I filled it in, adding lots of provisos – I was willing to do this bit, but not this bit, and only this bit, if they were desperate. Then the spanner really got thrown into the works with Patrick and Shannon added to the equation. In the end all I was required to do was to be around at Loch Morlich for the water sports activity.

I have known other teachers have this “cushy” deal – sitting on a beach watching the pupils bobbing around in the water in canoes and kayaks. There was no sitting around on the beach this time on account of the wind, the rain, the hail and the sub zero temperature outside the cafĂ©! It was freezing. I did manage to walk along the beach and got battered to bits by hail. I drank my way through too many cups of hot chocolate.

The pupils had it rough. They bobbed around in the water, but it was very cold and the instructors had to keep bringing them in to thaw them out with hot juice. One of the other teachers, with the responsibility of filming the pupils, was trying to find a cheerful face to focus the camera on. I am sure they will look back and think they had a nice time but right there and then they were not smiling!

The real “fun” for me was the homeward journey. I had an inkling, a gut feeling, an intuition that something would happen. I thought it would be the windscreen though as there is a crack slowly creeping downwards. It was the flat tyre. The good news was I just coming up to a layby when it happened. The bad news is that the mobile phone was dead and I decided to walk into town to find a phone. Inverness was just in the distance. The weather had brightened up so it was not so bad. I took a short cut down a farm path. I am not as fit as I used to be, but I thought climbing over a fence was like riding a bike – something you never forget how to do. My head might have known how to do it, but the body wouldn’t comply and I fell from a not very great height. I didn’t break anything essential, though I am nursing bruises. I am more concerned that no one saw me take a dive over the fence!

The AA were finally contacted, the flat tyre replaced. Now before you start telling me that I ought to be able to change a tyre – I couldn’t agree more! In this case however, I am glad that it was the AA man seeing as there was something more serious than the tyre to deal with. The bar that sticks out that the wheel slides on to – it has a proper name – that thing is very worn out and shaky. I wouldn’t have known that if I had changed the trye. I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t supposed to shake like it did.

He told me I was very lucky – lucky that the tyre burst and the sticky out bar didn’t break! Lucky that the police didn’t see it and fine me £2000 and take points off my licence. I add to that - lucky that there was a layby nearby and it all didn’t happen as I was overtaking some big lorry. Lucky that I don’t know how to change a tyre. Lucky that I was within walking distance to Inverness. Lucky that….

Actually, I don’t think it is down to luck at all. I think that God’s angels were just doing their job. I have to admit that I don’t think I make it easy for them! I did think last night that I might just be on Satan’s list of “most wanted”. I am not sure how I got on to it – just by putting one step in front of the other and keeping walking with Jesus.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

14 words and 10 minutes

One of the Faithwriters Message Board threads is a challenge to write a poem in ten minutes using only 14 words. This was what I came up with thinking about Jan's funeral.


Saying goodbye
Leaving behind
An empty shell
The immortal soul
Rushes home
To Jesus

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Holding on to what is precious

I think that few people enjoy going to funerals, but some funerals are better than others. I have been to funerals where you can tell that the church minister just has either never met the person we are saying goodbye to, or just never really knew them that well. Today we went to a funeral. Joe's best friend, Michael, said goodbye to his mother, Jan. Jan's brother, James, a church minister, conducted the funeral and it had to be one of the most tender and moving funerals I have been to. He spoke of her childhood, her growing up, her boyfriends, her love of gardening. It wasn't just about knowing Jan so intimately - he knew so many of the people sitting in the congregation and thanked them personally for coming. Jan will be missed.

Later on in the afternoon, I went to visit Shona. It almost seems like two opposites - Jan wanting so much to stay alive, battling with cancer. Shona wanting so much to let loose her grip on life, not really wanting at all to battle to stay alive. Jan surrounded and supported by so much love from friends and family. Shona choosing to be so alone and so isolated - cutting herself off from the people who care.

I talked about the funeral. Life is to be treasured and to be held as precious. But then Shona, perhaps sensing a reprimand from me, that wasn't intended, reminded me that it all depends on the kind of life that people have. Sometimes life, when it becomes endlessly painful, isn't something that someone wants to hold on to.

I am thankful that for me life will never be endlessly painful - painful? Yes! Endlessly so? No, not when I am a prayer away from a loving God.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Water and Whining

I was reading John 2 yesterday, doing my usual catch up. (I have joined with a few cyber pals in reading the Bible in a year - I never make my daily quota) there are some stories that are so familiar to me that I hate do admit it, but I get bored reading them yet again! I know that you can get new revelation each and every time, but there is an initial sigh. I read through John 2 sighing heavily - Jesus turning water into wine. I know the story, I have heard it preached numerous times.

The Holy Spirit brought me up sharp and I went back to the start, praying I would see something not just new, but something that spoke into my life right now.

My first thought was about running out of resources. With Jesus and his disciples - extra mouths to feed - the bridegroom just didn't have enough wine. He hadn't planned for them to be there. If ever there has been a time when I have run out of resources, it has to be these last couple of weeks. The resources that I usually collected each day in my quiet times, because I have been busy every morning making breakfast, plaiting hair and picking fights - there hasn't been quiet times happening. Often I am heading off to school without my armour in place because I haven't had time to put it on. I have tried to catch up on an evening - but there are interruptions. My usual devotions have just gone to pot and I am running out of resources.

My next thought was about Jesus' abundant resources. Six jars of water, that each held thirty gallons - that makes one hundred and eighty gallons of water. Now if each of those jars of water are not water any longer but wine - that is a lot of wine. The bridegroom can easily meet the needs of his guest many times over. Jesus didn't just fill one jar of water but six. That speaks to me of the abundance of resources he provides.

The next thought was that the wine Jesus provided was not average or common, but the best. Jesus' resources are not just "good enough". They were getting to the end of the celebration but rather than the quality deteriorating as the evening came to a close - it got better! Jesus provides and abundant supply of the very best of resources.

My final thought was - "How do I unlock those resources?" I am running dry and I am in need of refreshment - how do I get my hands on one of those jars? The answer is that I don't unlock anything - Jesus gives and I go to him and I ask and I receive.

I do the going part well and the asking part too - but sometimes I do not wait patiently enough to do the receiving, or he is holding out the wine and I am looking the other way.

One of the last huge growth spurts of my Christian life was when Shannon and Patrick stayed with us last summer. I think they just may be the prompt for another growth spurt!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Battle of the Dirty T-shirt

I am used to peace and quiet in the mornings. I like to reflect on the day to come and to anticipate possible problems and work out strategies. I don’t anticipate problems before 8.30 am – apart from the minor things of no bread for sandwiches, or a hole in the last pair of tights. I can deal with them!

This morning a problem surfaced that I didn’t anticipate and there was no effective strategy. It was a 7.30 am problem that did not include bread or holey tights. Shannon made mention, last night, that she was running out of clean clothes. It wasn’t a problem as washing had been done – and courtesy of some very generous friends – it had also been ironed. Two tops were ready and waiting.

I took them up to Shannon. She was wearing a T-shirt that she had been wearing all week! I told her there were a couple of clean ones. She insisted that the one she had one was good enough. 7.30 in the morning is not my best times, and probably not hers either. I asked her to change it, so I could put the dirty one in the wash.

What happened next was not pretty. Neither of us come out of it with our dignity in tact! The volume rose significantly. The clean tops had long sleeves and we had bought a pink cardigan earlier on in the week. I think she wanted to wear the pink cardie, but couldn’t wear it with the long sleeve top, so she intended to stick with the short top she had on – which was dirty.

I am still working out where to draw the line between giving way or digging my trench. The dirty top was to my mind a “digging the trench” issue. Well, it didn’t go down well. She refused to take the top off. She said the “Mummy let her wear her tops even if they were dirty” and make it clear that she was not going to change! Patrick watching from the door added his match to the gunpowder keg of emotions saying Mummy wouldn’t let her go out in the dirty top.

A small girl can say a lot of loud cross words when she chooses to. I manhandled – or in her case – girl handled her out of the dirty top. At one point I threatened to take a pair of scissors and cut her out of the top. I left the room with the top, leaving Shannon sobbing hysterically!

I know that I am bigger than Shannon is, and I know that there was probably a more diplomatic way to part her from her dirty T-shirt. At 7.30 am I was not looking for diplomacy – just obedience. I don’t want her to be the mini dictator in my home. I don’t want to be a big dictator in my home either. We both find ourselves in a situation that we would rather not be in. I want to put boundaries in place so we can live harmoniously.

I am aware that I am a novice at parenthood. I am sure I am not having any harder a time than any other mother. I am not any other mother though. By the time the child had reached eight most mothers have had eight years of experience – me – I have had just eight days.

I am finding out that teaching and parenting are not the same. I may be able to deal with thirty pupils in a class – but one eight year old girl is a different kettle of fish.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Nit nightmare

Here's a question to ponder? What would you rather do - go to music practice or say at home and have a nit comb dragged through your hair? Or how about this one what would you rather do - teach a class of unruly third years or have a nit comb dragged through your hair? Or what about what would you rather do - sit down and write first year reports or have a nit comb dragged through your hair?

The nit comb will always be the last choice but that was what I did tonight! Shannon and Patrick were away for the weekend staying with Alyson and Tony. Alyson informed me that Shannon had nits! So I bought a nit comb and a bottle of smelly nit lotion.

Dragging the comb through Shannon's hair we managed to catch seventeen full-grown creepies. It was a sore business, so to comfort her I offered to let her return the complement! No full grown creepies on my head but she seemed to think there were one or two eggs - I think they might have been dandruff myself, but just in case I smothered my scalp in the smelly stuff!

Shannon is a real tactile person who loves to snuggle up close to folk. Just how far do creepies jump? It has got to be a long time since I last had nits. No matter how much people tell you it is not a dirty hair thing, it doesn't stop you feeling that it's a dirty hair thing.

A career in diplomacy?

If teaching gets too much I think I have what it takes to make a career in diplomacy! Yesterday almost became the first day Shannon has not cried about something – almost! Patrick came downstairs in the night to tell me that Shannon was crying.

I couldn’t think of anything I had done to set her off! Sit turned out that she didn’t want to go to swimming class the next day. At first she just mumbled that she didn’t like it and go the lecture of me not liking to do things but having to do them anyway. Not liking something was not a good enough reason not to do it. I also told her gruesome tales of when the skill of swimming might just save her life or the lives of other people! She wasn’t taking the bait and insisted that I needed to write a note to get her excused.

Now, I don’t know about this note business. A wee voice inside sort of said that Shannon had enough on her plate and whether she swam or not was no great shakes. Another voice said that if I gave way on this issue, it could be the beginning of a downward slide. How often did she get her own way at home with Shona? I was tempted to phone an expert – Alyson W – for advice. In the end I just decided to leave it till the morning to decide – let us both sleep on it.

The next morning, Shannon was still determined that she didn’t want to go swimming. It must be the teacher in me, but it goes against the grain, writing a note without a good reason. I grilled her again trying to get to the core of the problem. Eventually she told me that they were being encouraged to jump off the side of the pool and into the water and she was frightened to do that. I suggested that she tell the teacher she was frightened and was not ready for it. Shannon agreed to give it go and the request for the note was withdrawn!

It is minefield this looking after children business!

Friday, May 06, 2005

When chocolate looses its attraction

I have a very bad cold. It has been building up over the last few days. I seriously don't know how real mums do it - the keeping going bit. My normal routine is to crawl under a duvet cover and wait for the virus to get bored of tormenting me and go find someone else to play with. However, that plan was not an option any more. There was washing up to do and breakfast to sort. I know that this is normal life for real mums - but not for me.

Plan B included comforting myself with a bar of chocolate. That always works! However, this bug has dismantled my taste buds and transformed everything to the taste of cardboard - not that I have actually eaten cardboard before!

So, we just keep going. Patrick has been dropped off for a guitar lesson. he certainly hasn't made any progress since last time as he has not practised at all! There's the distraction of Shell nearby!

The skip which we hired to dispose of the garden rubbish is full to overflowing. I didn't believe anyone when they said that other people would add their stuff to it. Apart from the garden rubbish, someone has added a pink carpet to the top of it all. The skip has to be weighed and what we pay depends on how heavy it all is. I wish they had asked permission - I would have said "Yes!", but I just don't like people taking advantage.

The other thing to make it into the skip is a "For Sale" sign. This I do not grudge. For the last week it has been lying in Shell's garden. The idea of them moving and taking Shell away from Patrick would have broken more than one heart! Shell and Patrick fell in love last summer - well, maybe not love, but close freindship. They sit on the wall at the end of the garden for hours on end. Patrick blushes when Joe teases him about Shell - but she is something that is fixed and un-moving in his world right now.

In my world that is shifting and spinning about, God is my fixed point (and Joe too). In Patrick's world Shell is his. So I am glad that at least for now, the For Sale sign has been dumped.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

28 days

I was sitting this morning having a quiet time and my eyes lighted on two things that don't belong on the coffee table. Most things don't belong on the coffee table, but they have a place somewhere - these two things were alien! One thing was a pink hairbrush. The other thing a plastic doll of the male variety, without a shirt on his back, showing off his very obvious muscles, his body contorted into an impossible position.

The kids have been here a few days and already they have left their mark of ownership on the house! The skates and the bikes will no doubt filter in over the next 28 days.

The doorbell has been rung more times in the last few days than in the last few months! Children of all shapes and sizes are turning up to ask if Patrick can come out to play. The remote control for the TV has been claimed by Shannon, and I know more about Kim Possible than I want to know.

Shona is in hospital for at least the next 28 days. Shannon and Patrick will be staying with us for the next 28 days. When I broke the news to Shannon, she asked me how long 28 days was. The last time we were in this position, 28 days became much longer, so to some extent she didn't trust that it was going to be 28 days. We were able to agree that whether it was 28 days or more, in the end last time, she did actually go home, and that this time it would be the same - in the end she will go home.

In the end I think about just one day and not 28 days. I think about this day! Let's just get through this day and leave tomorrow until tomorrow!

Monday, May 02, 2005

White is the new red

A couple of weeks ago, the sight of my red card caused hysterics in the gym. If they had looked at the dates they would have had a double dose of hysterics - but just the colour red was enough for them to laugh.

It appears that the red cards are out of fashion. White is the new red! When dragging my red card out of the drawer this morning - incidentally it is very easy to find a red card among all the white ones! - this woman behind the reception desk said something along the lines of "Oh, my! We haven't been here for a while have we?" My snappish reply was "Actually - WE have been coming very regularly for four weeks - look at the dates!" She then went into a sales pitch of explaining that red cards are out and have been for a while and white cards are in!

It wasn't just the cards that had changed. The whole thinking behind how best to tone yourself up and smooth your lines had also changed. Gone was the mechanical pumping away on the bikes and the treadmill and in was pushing and pulling weights about! Apparently the bikes and treadmills are fine while you are on them but once you finish, the metabolic rate just drops right back to normal. That tells you that I listened carefully. I got "inducted" by a hunky Australian - the change over was worth it just for that!

So my red card was confiscated and a new sparkling white one - which gives the erroneous impression that I just joined this morning - has been issued in its place. I now get to lift weights. It takes a lot less time than all the cycling and walking, but makes me sweat harder.

With the children arriving later today, and my new identity as "foster mum" coming into force, I might not get to play with the weights that often.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wet beds and nit combs - again?

I have just returned from a friend's house. I was telling her about the prayer meeting on Friday. Her husband was there. I couldn't remember the name of the meeting and knew it had something to do with colours and heat - it came out as "Green Fire" instead of Blue Flame - close enough!

We were round for a more sober reason. A friend of ours is in hospital and we have offered to look after the children. It's not an ordinary hospital but treats patients with mental health problems. With an appendix or a broken leg you can know for sure when they get out, but not so with a mental illness.

This is round two! Last year, during the last weeks of the summer holiday and the start of the school term the same thing happened. Same friend, same children. It was challenging and difficult, and rewarding and...well, you get the idea. I think we were both relieved in the end when they went home, but also a little sad - empty nest syndrome does not always have to take sixteen years to develop!

There were some really low moments in those six weeks - like discovering a bed so wet that you could ring out the duvet. The wee girl had been too frightened to tell me, and I had been too inexperienced to think about checking! The discovery of nits was another low point - nit combs and smelly lotion was a first for me. There were some really high moments too - Sitting in the sunshine on the patio reading her kid's girly magazine and doing the crossword together was fun.

I am aware that at sometime during the six weeks I had run out of resources and wasn't coping so well! Well, we have a support system this time - my "Green Fire" friend will take them on the weekends to give us time to recharge the batteries!

This is the Body of Christ at its best!