God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future


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A Spider in the Bath

Ever since I was quite young I’ve been afraid of creepy-crawlies – spiders, butterflies etc..

The butterfly terror started when I was in the playground at school and suddenly one flew straight at me. I now know that their guidance system is so acute that they won’t actually hit anything, but I didn’t have time to think about the behaviour of Pieris brassicae – I just screamed. You can imagine the result of a screaming child in a school playground, but we won’t go into that!

The anxiety didn’t stop at butterflies. In later life I lived in or visited several countries overseas where creepy-crawlies abound, including Hong Kong, Cyprus and Thailand . It was not an easy time, I can tell you. I have lots of tales to tell about me and cockroaches, but not this time! And now, even though I’m well into my second childhood, I still treat spiders with great respect.

So, imagine my horror yesterday at finding a spider in the bath!

We don’t have a separate shower or wet room, just a small shower unit over the bath. This arachnid was there and I wasn’t going to get into that bath until he moved. I realise that he was several million times smaller than me, but that gave me no reassurance. (We won’t go into how I managed to bathe that day).

This morning I went into the bathroom and he’d gone! But how? And where? I always leave the plug in to minimise draughts (and spiders!) so he couldn’t have gone down there. I looked everywhere but couldn’t see him. So, I felt quite secure about taking a shower.

Halfway through I spotted him! He peeped out from behind a small soap dish I have in the corner of the bath. Was this going to be the confrontation I’d always dreaded? But, as I looked at him (I’d named him Boris), I realised that he wasn’t so big after all. Actually I felt quite silly being so afraid of such a tiny and rather handsome specimen. It wasn’t half as bad as I’d made out.

But, isn’t that like life’s problems? Sometimes something will seem virtually insurmountable, but, if we face it head on, with God’s help and putting our trust in Him, we will beat anything.

    I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
    (Philippians 4 verse 13)

    “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
    (James 4 verse 8)

    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31 verse 6)

    (All Scripture references are taken from the N.I.V.)


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I Am So Small

Whenever I’ve asked people what is their earliest recollection, I’ve almost always received a different answer. There are those who cannot remember a particular early recollection, others will pinpoint a particular event that was the earliest thing they remember, and one person I know claims to remember being born (which I find hard to believe, but who am I to question it?)

I fall into the second group. Judging by the ages of my siblings, I must have been about 4 or 5 years old at the time.

My father didn’t go through any military service during the war – I don’t know why that was – but instead he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service. You may have seen old film of the wartime fire fighters and I believe their work was just as important as any military service. He was often away for long spells having been sent to Plymouth and Coventry during the Blitz in 1940 (before I was born). However, when the war ended he stayed on in the A.F.S. for a short while.

My sister would have been about 7 or 8 at the time and Mum realised one day that Dad had forgotten to take his lunch to work. Big Sister was drafted in to go to the Fire Station. I so desperately wanted to go too, but was not allowed. “You are so small”, I was told. I couldn’t see the logic of this so I decided on Plan B – follow my sister at a discreet distance. All went well until we came to a junction. My sister could have taken either the left or the right fork – but which one? Big decision! “Eeny meeny miney mo, down which road should I go?”

Well, “Mo” won so off I went. There is now a gap in my memory so I have no idea for how long I walked until I realised that I was totally lost. My next recollection is of being dragged along by a very tall lady (I was so small). Then I was being asked a lot of questions by some nice policemen and ladies. “What’s your name?” (I knew the answer to that one); “Where do you live?” (Up the road“, I replied). I must have been quite distressed as I was then offered a sweet (remember “rationing”!). Looking around (in my adult imagination) I can see the exact layout of that room and one thing that stands out is that there was the tallest fireplace I had ever seen (I was so small!). I figured that the police persons must have been really tall as they were head and shoulders above it.

So, after a drink and (probably) another sweet, I was “grilled” again! “Where was Mummy?“ “Did she know I’d gone off?” (“I don’t know” is all I could say).
The next question I could answer. “Where is Daddy?” (“At work“); “Where’s that?” (“At the station”); “Which station?“ (The luggage station”, I replied). Bingo, they realised that Dad worked on the railway!! But, of course he didn’t!

There is now a further blank, but the next thing I recall was walking along the canal towpath holding the hand of a lady I didn’t know and suddenly seeing my Mum walking towards us pushing my brother in his pram. (How they managed to contact her I have no idea as we had no telephone at home.) I vividly remember rushing towards Mum and receiving a rather stern scolding. And of course “Just wait till your Dad gets home”.

Nevertheless, I lived to fight another day!

This set me thinking of just how small I am in God’s Creation. A tiny speck of humanity in a huge cosmos- but God loves me! He loves me.! This is absolutely mind-blowing. That the Creator of Heaven and Earth is interested in what I do – even though I’m still so small!

We are so small and He is so Great.

Jesus gave His life for me – and YOU – when He went to the Cross. He did this so that we can all be forgiven for wrong-doings past, present and future. Jesus loves you and wants you to be saved from a lost eternity. Why not come to Him now? Accept Him by faith now – it’s no good waiting until tomorrow, it may be too late.

Just one simple prayer, something like this can change your life forever.

“My Father in Heaven, I believe that Jesus is your Son. I believe that He came and died to pay the penalty for the wrong-doings I have committed. Please forgive me, Father. I ask You to give me the gift of eternal life through your Son Jesus. Come into my life and cause me to be born again. Amen”

God bless you.

Silently stars are rising in the endless night
I walk in thought, lost in the moon’s unearthly light
Wondering why the One who governs all I see
Would could care so deeply for a tiny being like me

CHORUS

I AM SO SMALL
YOU ARE SO GREAT
I KNOW YOU’VE GOT BIGGER THINGS TO ATTEND TO
YET YOU NEVER TURN AWAY
I AM SO SMALL
BUT I NEED YOU TOO
AND I KNOW THAT THE LITTLE THINGS
ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

You send the currents swirling circling the seas
Making the atoms dance to mystic rhapsodies
‘You flung the suns in burning radiance
Through silent fields of space’
And set my earth spinning in its place

CHORUS

Sometimes I’m frightened by the power of your hand
But I know you understand
For you lived here as a man


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Price Guarantee

I was doing my shopping the other day – nothing unusual in that, you say! Well, no, but I realised that almost everything I bought that day was on “special” – buy one get one half price – three for the price of two – £1 off usual price. You get the picture. And this set me wondering how it’s all worked out.

The many and various supermarkets in U.K. all have special offers of one kind or another, in order to attract people who might not otherwise go there. Once in the store they hope you’ll buy loads of stuff you never knew you didn’t want!

There are four main supermarkets in our area – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrison’s. They regularly compete on the same item which makes it most confusing. (I thought supermarket shopping was intended to be easier -just walk round and select what you want!).

My supermarket is Asda as my husband works there and staff have a discount on their shopping. It would be silly not to take advantage of this, now wouldn’t it?

The latest idea from these four retail giants is that they have come up with promises of “if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, still come to us as we’ll give you the difference” or words to that effect. (Are you still awake at the back there?!).

Asda calls theirs the “Price Guarantee”. Quite simply, if Asda isn’t 10% cheaper than any of the other three, they will give you the difference (to be redeemed from your next shop – cheeky!!).

Shopping was never like that when I was young. Just after the war there were shortages of just about everything and, of course, we had rationing. So, whereas now I need the car to go and do my weekly shop, Mum would take us all on the ‘bus into town and then we would help her to carry the shopping home. We didn’t have much money but we always had fresh meat, vegetables and a cake for Sunday tea. There were no special offers that I can recall – the prices were marked and that was it – take it or leave it!

I well remember the two old sisters who ran a small greengrocers’ at the top of our lane. They always seemed so grim, probably because the shop was very dark. Mum had to buy our potatoes loose by the half stone (7lbs or 3.17kg), not pre-packed as nowadays, and I can tell you that was very heavy for a little girl to carry! However, having said the old ladies were dour, they would sometimes give me an apple for free.

There will be lots more tales of me shopping and going to school in the future, but for now I want to concentrate on the Price Guarantee. Asda may think that they were the first to introduce this promise but I can assure you that they were not.

As we approach Easter, let’s just give thought to the Price that Jesus paid to Guarantee forgiveness of sins.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5 verse 8)

Jesus went willingly to the Cross at Calvary on that first Good Friday. He died for each and every one of us who repent of our sins (wrong-doings).

“Many think the word repent means “to get your act together” or to “get religion” or “fly straight”; as if we could. Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God’s way. God simply asks us to turn. This is the way we accept His gift. When we do, certain outcomes are promised. If we don’t, or we “turn back”, alternate outcomes are promised.”

http://www.acts17-11.com/repent.html

I make no apologies for the following picture.

Happy Easter!


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It’s Raining Again!

How many times in the past year must those words have been uttered here in the U.K., I wonder?

We are experiencing some of the worst weather on record with floods and low temperatures almost non-stop throughout 2012, and still it continues into 2013. It’s been unseasonably cold most days and when the sun comes out it’s gone again in minutes.

Not that I’m complaining, you understand! However, it has served to remind me how fortunate we are living in this part of Britain. Even today there are places further north that still have remnants of a blizzard earlier in the week. So, be thankful for what you have (or don’t have!)

When we were kids we used to love the rain. “Put your wellies on!”, Mum would call as we ventured out. Splashing in puddles, making boats from fallen leaves and having races (making sure the other person didn’t deliberately sink yours!), creating dams thereby blocking the rainwater. Simple, but fun. We would build a shelter by bending branches of small bushes, and we’d have secret meetings in there. (Usually girls in one and boys in another). And afterwards, returning home, probably soaking wet and covered in mud, to a nice warm fire and crumpets with Golden Syrup on top for tea . (In the Midlands these are known as pikelets – don’t ask me why!).

(Life was certainly less stressful then!).

Talking about rain, I love the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis chapters 6 to 9). It’s probably one of the first stories that children learn in school or Sunday school and in book shops and toy stores everywhere can be found stories and toys relating to this wonderful story.

I find it almost impossible to imagine how big the Ark must have been in order to contain two of every kind of creature. We’re told in the Bible that it was about 140 metres long, 23 metres wide and 13.5 metres high. (I was brought up in times of feet and inches, so that must be approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high) – now that’s HUGE! and Noah built it with only the plans given to him by God, the Great Architect. He had no Site Manager; nor any delivery trucks bringing the wood and pitch. What he used he had to acquire himself and, with the aid of his sons, build the Ark according to the plan given him by God. The people around laughed at him – but he and his family were the only ones to survive the Flood

Noah had no SatNav to guide him, nor any idea how long they would be incarcerated, but in faith he did as he was told.

Most of us know that after forty days it stopped raining, Noah sent out a raven. The Flood had covered the whole earth so there was no living thing left. The bird returned with nothing on two occasions, but then Noah sent out a dove. The dove brought back an olive branch, to show that the water was abating. He sent it out again and again until it didn’t return. Noah then knew that it was time to leave the Ark.

And God promised that never again would He cover the earth with water. He made a rainbow as a sign of His promise.

What a wonderful story of obedience, faith and trust in God.

Why not re-read this wonderful story again – and put yourself right there in the Ark with Noah and his family.


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I Want To Go Home

Isn’t it strange when something you’ve been wondering about for ages suddenly becomes clear – when the penny drops?

I was sitting in church this morning when exactly that happened. The penny dropped as to something my Mum had said last year.

Mum died on 29th August last year. She was 97 years old and had taken a fall six weeks earlier. She broke her hip and, as many of you will know, at such a great age as this, that can very often result in the person not making it to full recovery.

My sister and I live quite close, so we and our respective husbands took turns in visiting Mum in hospital. At first she wasn’t too bad and we hoped that things would get better.

Of the three siblings, I am the only Christian, so all the praying was down to me. I never really knew whether or not Mum had ever asked Jesus into her life; it wasn’t a subject we talked about much when I was growing up. Nevertheless I lifted Mum daily to God in prayer, asking for His will to be done.

As time went on, Mum’s condition deteriorated and finally we had to accept that she wasn’t going to make it, despite the encouraging start.

We visited her daily and she was moved from the hospital into a home that specialised in end of life care. We were told that there was little they could do other than administer palliative care.

In the last two weeks of her life, Mum was almost delirious. She didn’t know us and we weren’t able to get through to her. All she would do was to keep repeating over and over “I want to go home.” “I want to go home.”

Did she mean she wanted to go home to be with Jesus, I wonder? I would like to think that’s what she meant.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. (1Corinthians 13 verse 12a)


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Why Me?

If you have siblings, and especially if there were three of you, as in my case, you’ll not need me to tell you what it’s like being the “fall guy”.

Until I was about fourteen years of age, it always seemed to me that whatever went wrong or whatever was broken or lost, it was always me that had done it, broke it or lost it. It never seemed fair to me that, as the middle one, my sister was “old enough not to do such things”, my brother wasn’t accountable due to the fact that he “couldn’t possibly have done it” – so that left me!

Both my parents were out all day, so in the school holidays we were left in the capable hands of my sister. There is one incident I clearly remember concerning my brother and I. He was (and still is, I might add) a rotten tease. I had been chasing him round the house in an attempt to retrieve something belonging to me which he refused to return. After chasing him for some considerable time I decided that drastic action was needed to regain my property. So, I picked up one of his shoes and threatened to throw it at him if he didn’t give me back what he had in his hand. He was standing in front of the window, threatening to drop it outside so I let the shoe go, fully expecting him to catch it. But no, he ducked! The shoe went flying through the window. My sister was furious, my brother was ecstatic and I was, well, caught Inflagrante Delicto!.

My protestations to Mum about it not being my fault fell on deaf ears. “Wait till your Dad gets in!” My defence was too weak in the face of a two-strong prosecution. I was sent to bed early, crying. “Why me?” I asked. “It’s always me.”

Well, of course, it wasn’t always me! I’ve come to realise over the years that if you try to be “good” you get poked with a stick from one side; if you’re “bad” you get poked with a stick from the other side. It’s a “No Win” situation every time!

Trying to be good can require a lot of will-power. And trying to be good without becoming a total bore can take a lot of careful balancing.

Jesus was a good man, we all know that for sure, but even He had his enemies. He was an enigma. People in high authority disliked the way He caused great multitudes to follow Him almost everywhere He went. More and more people wanted to know who this Man Jesus was. Why had He come?

Believers and followers of Jesus today know that He came to earth from Heaven in order to die for our wrong-doings. He died for you and He died for me. But, on that first Good Friday He didn’t say, “Why me?” He knew why He had come and He knew that He must do the Father’s will. Jesus was the once for all time sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. He died on that Cross for you and me and anyone who calls on His Name will be saved from a lost eternity.

But, the miracle of Easter is that on the third day He rose again. He was seen by many people who have testified to seeing Him. After forty days He was taken up into Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God interceding for each one of us.

So, next time you hear anyone say, “Why Me?”, just think of Jesus.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains He had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to Heaven,
Saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven and let us in.

(Taken from “There is a Green Hill Far Away“: Mrs C.F. Alexander )


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Sheltering

Ever since I started writing this Blog, my mind has been a constant whirl of ideas and things to say. I’ll hear a song or get an idea and think, “Yes, that’ll be a good theme for the next post” but by the time I get home to my PC I’ve forgotten what it was I’d thought about! They call it “ having a senior moment”. The only trouble is I’ve been having these moments for about twenty years!!

However, I was standing sheltering from the rain recently and passing my time until it was possible to walk to my car without arriving looking like a drowned rat, and suddenly the thought of sheltering not from rain but from air raids and bombs popped into my head. I know! I can hear you say, “Strange woman!” but that’s me!

So, I was immediately transported back in time to the air raid shelter we had in our garden when I was small.

During the Second World War many families had an Anderson shelter in the garden.

You can get the idea from the picture above, but it didn’t stop at just the plain corrugated iron shelter. There were even competitions in some areas for the best-kept shelter and people would go to great lengths to fit them out, often lavishly furnished. Sometimes they would be buried deep in the garden with steps leading down, for extra protection in case of an air attack.

These shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than £5 a week, and those with a higher income were charged £7. Almost 2 million shelters of this type were distributed from February 1939 to the outbreak of war. During the war a further 2.1 million were erected. At the end of the war in Europe, households who had received an Anderson shelter were expected to remove their shelters and local authorities began the task of reclaiming the corrugated iron. Those who wished to keep their Anderson shelter (or more likely the valuable metal!) could pay a nominal fee.

I never remember having to run into the shelter on hearing the siren, but I do remember that after the war Dad transformed it not into a garden shed for himself but into “Rose Cottage” for my sister and I to play in. Mum provided curtains and bits of furniture and we spent many happy hours in there. We were the envy of our neighbours’ kids, as, presumably, they had returned theirs after the war. When I left that house in 1957 Rose Cottage was still there – I wonder if it’s still standing today.

But thoughts of other kinds of shelter have since found their way in the “waiting to be blogged” file.
In Isaiah chapter 25 verse 4 we learn that God is

“….a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

Likewise in Psalm 46 verses 1 and 2 say:

”1God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

You can find countless other verses in the Bible that tell of God’s unfailing love and protection. I have had times in my life, before and since being Christian, when I felt everything was going pear-shaped. But, by trusting God and knowing that He is there always and cares for me and loves me, then I have received His strength. He is my shelter from the storms of life. Praise His Name!

May my God bless you as you read this.