God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future


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Which Way?

I saw in the press recently that the boy band “One Direction” is breaking up to go their separate ways.

http://weeklyworldnews.com/headlines/53596/one-direction-breaking-up/

Now this brought a smile to my face; how can One Direction be different ways? Watch this space – or, rather, their website if you are remotely interested.

But, as usual, this got me thinking about directions.

My sister and I went to Plymouth recently and just as you enter the city it’s necessary to negotiate several roundabouts, traffic junctions and lane changes. Now this might seem easy if you do the same journey day after day, but for someone like me on a one-day visit, it’s a nightmare. I have to say that the other drivers were very considerate but it doesn’t help when you suddenly realise that you’re in the wrong lane heading away from your destination! However, we managed to get to the park-and-ride, did our shopping and returned to the car. Time to find our way out! Of course, it wasn’t just a simple matter of doing the incoming route in reverse – oh, no! So, we found ourselves suddenly heading right into the city centre. O.K. so the ideal thing is to watch for the overhead directions, get in your lane and go. Bu then, the overhead signs suddenly changed to local destinations – the long distance one which I was following disappeared! I’m pleased to report that we did manage, eventually, find our way home. Next time I’ll go by train!

We shouldn’t ever get lost, though, considering all the navigational aids available to us. I don’t have a SatNav, so it’s maps and road markings.

This reminded me of another situation somewhat similar. We often go walking in the countryside and always take either a step-by-step guide or some sort of instructions. Not many pathways have signpost – and, if there are any, very often there’s nothing on them!

Sometimes in cities signposts can be very confusing……

Other times, very specific:

So how can we trust any signpost? Maybe someone has turned it round – maybe it’s been broken off by vandals, maybe it’s illegible through years of rain. Which way do we go in these situations?

My husband and I on one of our walks came across two signs to the same place pointing in opposite directions. After some discussion we decided to follow the left-hand route. We walked and walked for miles until we realised that we were lost. Should we press on, going deeper into the unknown, or should we turn around, go back and start again. We did turn around and we found the right-hand sign was the correct one. In no time at all we were back on the road home.

Many of us will have, at some time in our lives, had to make the decision on which way to go. It could be within a marriage, job, financial situation, or in our spiritual lives.

Thirty years ago I made the decision to turn around and follow Jesus and, believe me, it has been a really exciting time. I’ve been to places I never new existed on my circuitous route to where I am now. But He knows were He wants us to be, where we’ll be the most effectively used for His purposes. If you haven’t already made a decision to follow Jesus, why not do it now?

(Taken from Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1 -8)

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Learning To Ride A Bike

Can you remember learning to ride a bike? It’s a very important part of growing up and is something that has to be faced.

My cycling debut took place at the age of seven years. Remembering that I am a septuagenarian, this was quite some time ago, but the memory is still as vivid in my mind as if it were yesterday. Not for me a snazzy model with outriders nor a safety helmet. Dear me no, we were hardy chaps in those days! My bike was a hand-me-down model with a well-worn saddle!

So, the great day arrived and Dad took me to a quiet lane near to our house. It could only have been about 100 yards (91.44 metres) long and at the end was a large metal gate – for crash landings! The first thing was to adjust the saddle, then test the handlebars to ensure they moved freely. I only wish that Dad had removed the “wobble”! So, with Dad holding the back of the saddle, off I went.

Wobble, wobble, crash; down I went. Try again. Wobble, wobble, crash. At this point I decided to give up! But I wasn’t allowed to, so off we went again – and again – and again. I lost count of the number of times I had to pick gravel out of my knees, but I heard not one word of sympathy from Dad. All he kept saying was, “You can do it. Come on.”

And, of course, I did. Suddenly I didn’t wobble, nor did I crash or fall off. I was sailing along and it was great.

My parents were keen cyclists when they were young and, in fact, they met through a cycling club. The picture below was taken in the mid 1930s when they would both have been in their early twenties. Mum is sitting second from the left in the front row, my father is crouching on the right-hand side of the group. (Notice the chaperone sitting in the front row – that’s my formidable grandmother! No hanky-panky went on in those days!)

After they married, we became a “cycling family” and in order to ensure that we all went on outings together Dad adapted a baby’s wartime respirator into a side-car and fitted it on the side of his bike. This was for me and I loved it. I would have been about four years old. My sister had her own bike – she was eight years old – and my baby brother had a child seat on the back of Mum’s bike. And off we would go. I sat inside the “cocoon” and must have imagined I was in a royal coach – I still have a very vivid imagination.

On the last occasion that the contraption was used we had just arrived home after one of our rides when the bracket holding the sidecar in place sheared off. Everyone, apart from me, thought it was hugely funny. God certainly had His hand on us even then as it could have broken at any time, with awful consequences that don’t bear thinking about.

After I learnt to ride a bike I had one of my very own when I started senior school. I rode in every day, as did many of the other girls. We didn’t own a car so there was never any chance of a lift to school.

But thinking (as I do) whilst writing this, made me realise how often we are in a precarious situation and God just lifts us out, or sends us another way. Most times we don’t even know that we have been prevented from falling into danger. Our God is always there, always watching, always caring.


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As Much As You Want

Someone pointed out to me recently that this Blog is called “God and Asda” and there’s been plenty of God but not much about Asda. There can never be enough God in my opinion!

Nevertheless, I suppose I ought to try and redress the balance. I don’t intend this to be an advertisement for Asda (other supermarkets are available in the town). So, here, for the first and the last time, is a photograph of our local Asda.

Newton Abbot 006

When I was young there were, obviously no supermarkets in U.K. and strict opening and closing hours were enforced. This meant that no shop at all should open on a Sunday. Mum just had to make sure that she bought all she needed on the weekly shopping expedition into town. Sometimes we would go to the small local shops – there were two grocers, a fruit and vegetable shop, a newsagent, a haberdashery shop and a fish and chip shop. (I visited there recently and they are still there after all these years!)

None of those establishments ever opened on Sundays. However one week, something must have been forgotten on the Saturday excursion because Dad and I went to the one of the grocers. I think he took me along as back-up defence or maybe he thought the grocer might take pity on a poor little child! I can’t remember what it was we wanted, but it must have been important for Dad to go and ask. Dad rattled the shop door, then banged on the window. Finally, the grocer emerged from his living quarters into the shop and started waving his arms about as if to say “I’m closed”. Dad pleaded with him to open the door, but the shopkeeper was adamant – he would not open on Sunday no matter what. Dad suggested that the transaction be done in the house part of the building, but the grocer simply said: “No, I’m not allowed to sell anything on a Sunday”. I can remember my father being, shall we say, somewhat irate, but to no avail. Rules were rules and that was it.

Now, of course, the larger supermarkets are open almost all year round with just a few hours in the week when they close. We shouldn’t really take this service for granted and those of us who remember “life before Asda” really appreciate it. Ever since the advent of such huge organizations, we can get almost anything at practically any time of day, including Sunday (until 4 p.m.!)

There is, of course, something that is available twenty four hours a day seven days a week.

Quite simply it’s God’s abundant love and mercy. You can have as much as you want and it’s all free. No special offers; it’s the same for everyone

Have you ever thought about God? I mean in a physical way. How do you imagine Him? We all have a picture in our mind’s eye and it’s probably something like this:

But, you see, it doesn’t matter how you picture Him, whatever you think He’s like, He’s always there, listening to your prayers and sometimes even delivering before you ask! His love never runs out, it’s always there. He doesn’t have holidays, He doesn’t have days off (or even off days!). He’ s there, just waiting for you to talk to Him. He’s your Best Friend, Your Counsellor, and He gave His only Son that you should have eternal life He knows you inside out because He made you in the first place.

Give Him a chance to come into your life. You won’t regret it.


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Crowned

I was nine years old in 1952 when King George VI died. I hadn’t realised that he’d been ill, I simply remember one of our teachers coming into the classroom, whispering something to our Form Master and then he announced that the King had died. We said the Lord’s Prayer and Mr Keytes, our teacher, prayed for the new Queen.

It was all a bit sad, but I couldn’t really take it in. For a start, I didn’t actually know him; but at least we had a day off for the funeral! There were very few televisions in our street – in fact, only one – and I was privileged to watch the interment as it happened.

Then we had the excitement of a coronation the following year, and this is yet another example of how little I appreciated what my parents did for me.

The Head Teacher announced one morning in Assembly that the school would be performing a pageant of singers, dancers and actors, entitled “Great Britain” and we had just three months to get it all sorted. Some pupils joined the dancing classes, others were selected for the choir and anyone who wanted a speaking part was to tell the Form Teacher.

This appealed to me – “Little Miss Show Off” – so I registered and, lo and behold, I was given the part of Wales!!!

I can still remember my lines: “Though Wales be small, her heart is sound, where’re her soldiers may be found.” (As I typed “small” I realised after all these years that my selection was probably due more to my size than my abilities. Ah, well!!)

So, the next thing was to get a costume, but, of course, these had to be made at home. I was given a picture of a traditional Welsh costume and Mum and Dad had to do the rest. I can still see us all around the table pasting and sticking black squares to the hat Dad had made.

Some of the other children had really fantastic costumes specially made but mine was very special because I knew that Mum and Dad had done this for me and no-one else.

The concert went well and I remembered my lines and I could see Mum and Dad sitting in the audience with big grins on their faces.

So, the day of the Coronation arrived and, typically English, the weather was not good. It was drizzling most of the day but we still enjoyed ourselves. We couldn’t watch the Coronation live as one can today on T.V or iPhone; instead we had to go to the cinema to see the newsreel. One of the most poignant moments in the whole ceremony for me is the actual crowning. After being handed the four symbols of authority – the orb, the sceptre, the rod of mercy and the royal ring of sapphire and rubies – the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, placed St Edward’s Crown on Elizabeth’s head to complete the ceremony. A shout of “God Save the Queen” was heard and gun salutes were fired as crowds cheered. I believe we even applauded in the cinema!

The parents in our road set up a street party. There was one long table with lots to eat and drink and afterwards there was a fancy dress competition. I was dressed as a Drum Majorette, and I have no idea where the costume came from! Unfortunately, I didn’t win a prize but again Mum and Dad must have worked really hard for that one day to be a success.

I can’t thank them in person as my father died in 1972 and Mum died last year, but I can use this Blog as a way to say: “Thanks Mum and Dad for everything you did for us three kids.”

This piece of writing was actually inspired by the Crown of Thorns given to Jesus as He went to his Crucifixion.

    “Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck Him in the face.”
    (John 19 verses 1-3
    )

But even in His darkest hour, Jesus’ love still shone through, as shown in the account of one of the two thieves on either side of Him:

    “Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
    (Luke 23 verses 42 and 43

So you see, it’s never too late to accept Jesus as your Saviour. The alternative is just too horrible to think about – eternity without anyone, anything – just black, black, black solitude.

Thousands of years ago, the Bible described a place called hell in the heart of the earth that matches exactly what science is discovering. In Numbers 16, the Bible gives the account of people falling into hell alive!

    “And the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them, with their households, and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community” (Numbers 16:32-33)

If you’ve got eleven minutes to spare I urge you to watch the video below. It’s shown from the perspective of the thief on the cross beside Jesus.

There is some graphic detail of Jesus’ suffering so be warned.

Just remember, He did it for you.


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Making Stuff

In our church, about four or five times a year, the ladies get together on a Saturday morning to make cards. All the stuff belongs to one of the ladies who used to do crafting as a business. So we open the church at around 10a.m., get the room ready (10.15), make tea or coffee (10.30), lay out all the stuff required for the session (10.45). Then the other ladies start arriving so we have a chat and then get down to work (11.15). The session is due to finish at midday, but never does. I wonder why?

We really have a great time and it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are at making stuff there’s always one of the others to help out.

When I was at junior school, Friday afternoon, last lesson, was always craft. I have no idea why this was, but it was always the same throughout my four years at that school. And I dreaded it!!

Apart from knitting, I am absolutely useless at making stuff. Give me a pair of knitting needles instead of a pair of scissors and I’m happy……

2008-04-19 004

….presented with a blank canvas consisting of coloured paper, glue, card, pencils, transfers etc, I am utterly hopeless! I have not one iota of creative talent in my body. I love knitting, but I can’t make a thing without a pattern. My mind just goes blank!

However, help is always at hand at the card-making sessions and eventually I manage to turn out some quite respectable work. I even sent two of my Easter cards to family this year!!

I remember in senior school in the first year in Domestic Science we had to make our cookery apron which, it was intended, would be worn whilst doing cookery from the second year onwards. It was blatantly obvious to my teacher that I had two right hands (I’m left-handed!). The first thing we had to do was to cut out the various parts of the apron (bib, skirt, waistband) then sew them together. Easy I hear some of you say. Not for me. My teacher finished it off for me so that I wouldn’t be the only girl without an apron. The same thing happened when we had an exhibition of work for parents’ evening. I chose to make a tea cosy, but got into such a mess that – yes – my teacher finished it off. Incidentally, I won a prize for it!!!!! So, you get the picture.

Now, this set me thinking about Creation. Imagine nothing, absolutely nothing. Dark, empty nothingness. Now look outside your window and see what’s there. Trees, flowers, birds, probably an animal or two. We breathe oxygen, we drink water, we feel the warmth of the sun (not in U.K. at the moment!!).

God had a blank canvas and He made everything. There is nothing that we eat or use that hasn’t first come from the earth. Absolutely nothing!

And that’s not the half of it, because after creating the heavens and earth, He made Man in His own image. Just think about yourself and how you walk, talk, eat, sleep, laugh, cry……. The list is endless.

Every time I think about Creation it makes me feel very humble. Let us be thankful for a loving, giving God who made all this.

You can read all about it in Genesis 1 verses 1 – 31.


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Steps

For as long as I can remember I have loved steps. Steps up, steps down, zigzag steps, wide ones, narrow ones, in fact, all sorts of steps. My favourite ones are those in stately homes. The timeless grandeur of a sweeping staircase with wonderful ornate handrails just thrills me. As a child I didn’t often get the chance to enjoy such wonderful surroundings.

But any sort of steps would do. Many are the times that Mum would get furious with me because I was “not keeping up” whilst walking around town. I would be up and down the steps at the entrances to shops! I think it drove her crazy!!

However, there was one place I loved more than anywhere else that we used to go as a family – Dudley Zoo. Whenever I heard Mum ask, “Shall we go to the zoo today?”, I would have my hat and coat on before you could say “Jack Robinson”!

The zoo is built on a hill in the grounds of an old castle and is still in existence. In fact, I visited it recently for the first time in over sixty years and it is almost exactly as I remember it from my childhood. Naturally the animals are no longer kept in small cages as they were when I was younger – they now have paddocks and large open areas since awareness of animal rights came into being (and not a day too soon, either).

So off we would go, Mum with the pushchair carrying my brother along with myself and my sister walking beside. We always went on a Wednesday as that was the day for half-price entrance charges, and there were usually fewer people, being midweek. There was so many steps at the zoo, leading up to the castle on the top of the hill – I was in dreamland!

I was so excited, nothing mattered to me but the steps. But, of course, as had to happen (me being me!) came the day it all went wrong!

We had been looking at the animals on the lowest level and Mum decided that, as she had brought a picnic, we could walk up to the top and have lunch in the castle grounds. So my sister was to help Mum carry my brother in the pushchair up the steps and I was told I could go on ahead and wait at the top. How exciting, all those steps to run up and down – and with permission!.

As I neared the top I could see the castle and my thoughts went into overdrive as I imagined myself imprisoned in the castle waiting for the knight in shining armour to appear. So when I got to the top did I wait? Of course not, I just kept going. I wandered over into the castle ruins and had a wonderful time, not realising the anguish I was causing.

It seems that, as I wasn’t waiting for them, Mum had to find one of the keepers and they set up a search for me. Oh, my goodness, did I catch it when I was found!!!!!

I still like steps and much prefer them to hills, although I’m not quite as sprightly as I once was, so I don’t go looking for them nowadays!

These thoughts about steps led me to think of the many steps we take during our lives. Steps towards maturity, steps in our chosen profession, steps towards finding a life partner and, of course, steps towards asking Jesus into our lives.

My husband recently took that final step and asked Jesus into his life on Easter Sunday this year. It is probably one of the biggest steps anyone can take because it’s a step of faith. It’s trusting, believing and learning to walk in God’s way.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

“For some of you, the next step is to accept Jesus Christ into your life. For others, it may be to be baptised. Maybe you need to join a church. I don’t know what your next step is, but I do know this: You have one. God will never be finished taking you deeper in faith. There is always a next step.” http://purposedriven.com/blogs/dailyhope/?contentid=11562