One of the things that surprises me for a few days every time we go back to the UK is that you can open a tap and hot water comes out. Just like that. So, uncluttered by notions of health and safety, we have taken ownership of this new shower unit, affectionately known as a widow maker:
Note the trailing flex, loosely stapled to the wall above the tiles, dangling across the plug socket, with the bath just a few inches below. The shower unit itself has an old fashioned kettle filament inside to heat the water. Fill it up, plug it in, walk away, come back twenty minutes later, unplug (forgetting that bit is likely to render your partner a widow/er), hope it’s not too hot or you’ll have to go away again until it cools down, shower. Done.
Your perspective on this will probably depend on your context. The clipboard wielding health and safety guys would have it down in a jiffy. At another extreme, the 750 million people in the world who don’t have clean water to drink would be scandalised that we’re using it to wash in. Our take is that having survived the last few winters without hot water in the house, we think we’re going up in the world.
I have just put up some sermon notes on Philippians 2 (Filipenses in Spanish) from last week. You can find them in Spanish under the sermons tab above. I got brave and for the first time ever I didn’t write out my entire sermon word for word (which probably renders the notes less useful to the unsuspecting but what ho.) I think it probably went better as a result, almost definitely sounded more natural because I wasn’t reading it out. But it was a bit nerve wracking trying to keep remembering what I’d thought I was going to say about each part – hard enough in English when at least I have the advantage of all the vocabulary to hand. My next challenge coming up is to deliver a short sermon series. I’m used to my invitations to preach arriving at six month intervals so it is probably going to be good discipline to have to deliver something good quality three or four weeks running, and to give the whole series a coherent shape.
If you’re not from the UK or have otherwise been living in a box then you might not have heard of Francesca Martinez. She’s a comedian, who also has cerebral palsy, and I love her perspectives on life.
“I wondered why physical perfection was always linked to happiness when it often appeared to cause problems. I mean, if being rich and beautiful leads to inner peace, wouldn’t we all be buying self-help books from Kate Moss? So who did this ubiquitous superficial value system really serve?
It became clear why this mass worship of conformity dominates our culture. It’s not because it spreads light and joy and peace across the globe, it’s because our society is built on consumption. And consumerism will only thrive if you can convince enough people that they’re lacking in some way, and that what they really need is the latest product/outfit/look to be "normal". That’s it. We’re sold this lie so that we’ll keep buying crap that we don’t need. So that we’ll continue to attempt to attain "normality" through purchases and surgeries and upgrades and iShit.”
Check out the link to read the rest.
There is nothing like leaving a house and coming back a few weeks later for seeing things with fresh eyes and going “what a flipping mess”. Having a big house is bad for discipline. This combined with the blessing that we have lived in this house for nearly six years, which is longer than I have lived anywhere since I left home at eighteen which was a long time ago. Back then I used to be able to transport my life in one (pink and grey, Karrimor – do they still exist?) rucksack. And of course accumulating kids increases the rate of multiplication of stuff on a logarithmic scale. So I am gradually sorting stuff into keep-give away-chuck. The spare room is done, apart from the cot to give away. I’m currently working on the kids’ room, helped variously by Joni and the new drawer unit which arrived on Friday. Our bedroom is next. The garage will be last, by which time I will have either gathered strength or run out of steam.
More difficult is the non-physical stuff. What do we do with our time, how to find more time to do the more important stuff, how to be more disciplined about dealing with strident voices of other things which demand our attention but are probably fundamentally less vital. At least going away and coming back to some extent provides a bit of a hiatus and a chance to make some resolutions and decide what to prioritise for those first blank diary pages after return. Limit screen time and make it useful, read more, pray more, sleep more, love more, eat chocolate.
We snuck into the UK for a quick visit, managed to pack in a dozen or so meetings in eight churches, by the end of which we were done with meetings, people, and especially with the M25 so we didn’t do half the other stuff or see half the friends we had planned to. Next time, next time…
We have been back in the country for six days and in San Francisco for five. Still haven’t quite managed to distribute the mountain of stuff that we transported across the Atlantic on behalf of other people (“Did you pack this yourself madam…?”). It’ll happen. In fact I need to make a couple of phone calls to find out where some of it needs to go to.
Currently having technology failure, the first thing that happened after we arrived was that my pc decided not to boot up anymore. It has gone for repair. The next thing was that the phone line fell off the wall because the atmosphere in our office is mostly reminiscent of an Amazonian swamp. Martin fixed it yesterday (the phone line that is, the swamp remains without remedy). So naturally the car wouldn’t want to miss out on its share of the attention. Luckily 22 hours plugged into a battery charger took care of that. I’m hoping my pc might come back soon. The laptop’s fine but I’m missing various useful documents, notably the one that has all my passwords to everywhere else, and I also have three hundred photos on my camera waiting to upload and sort into their relevant folders.