God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future

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BIG School

In the U.K., from 1944 to 1976, children of school age were required to take an examination in their last year of primary education in order to ascertain admission to various types of secondary school. This was known as the “Eleven Plus” All children aged 11 and 12 were required to take this test and the results would determine which school they would be attending for their senior education. Children who failed to gain a 25% pass mark were assigned to what was then known as Secondary Modern schools.

So, having successfully passed this test, I was allocated a place at a grammar school not too far distant from home. Dad and Mum were presented with a list of items required to kit me out in the uniform. Once again, I do not know how they managed to do this as it had to be purchased in one particular shop that specialised in school uniforms. I am sure it cost an absolute fortune.

I said in one of my earlier posts that one of the biggest shocks I received on arriving at grammar school, was the realisation that all the girls were of equal or higher ability than myself. I had always been told at junior school how clever I was and how I would “go far”. The latter statement transpired to be somewhat prophetic as I have certainly travelled far and wide in my life.

So, here I was, standing in the cloakroom on the first day of term in my brand new first-year’s uniform of black gym slip, square-necked white blouse, three-quarter length grey socks and shiny new shoes, wondering where I should hang my coat and beret, when I was tapped on the shoulder by a very nervous girl who asked if she could be my friend. I said “Yes” and we remained good friends right up until I left.

It was all so exciting and the building seemed so HUGE. I had never seen anything like it in my life before. There was a lawned quadrangle which, I discovered within the first hour, was absolutely forbidden territory except for sixth formers. (I was to learn a lot more of the perks rewarded to the sixth formers as time went on!). This hallowed area was surrounded on four sides by windowed corridors consisting of classrooms and laboratories. My head was spinning and I was convinced that I would get lost if I had to find my way round unaccompanied by either Prefect or Teacher.

I soon settled in to the daily routine and was enjoying the new subjects that I hadn’t encountered in my junior school days; sciences and languages, pottery and art in a proper art studio.

I was not the perfect student, though, and, to my shame, I was very often in detention. Every morning in Assembly, the Head Teacher would read out the names of girls who had won “House Points” to be added to whichever “House” they belonged to. But, alas, she also read out the names of girls who had been given “Order Marks” and these were deducted from the House total. My name was on the latter list more often than the former!

Discipline was very strict and there was one golden rule – No Talking in the Corridors. The problem was that I couldn’t stop chattering! (Not much has changed in that regard!). Unfortunately, this behaviour was reflected in my exam results.

I found out fairly recently that Julie Walters, the British actress, also attended this school, albeit eight years after me. If you get a chance to read her biography you will find inside a photograph of her school report. This could have been one of mine! “Must try harder”, “Insufficient homework submitted” , “…. could do better.” I now wonder whether there is a generic report for pupils who are not “super-stars” at school!

And then there was sport! Not being very athletic, and hindered by my short stature, I wasn’t too good at sport. This was called P.E. (Pretty Exhausting!!) but the gym mistress gave no quarter and I had to “do my best”. This was, of course, never good enough and in summer or winter I dreaded the lesson. Very often I would be singled out to perform a new “exercise” on the ropes or wall bars, and it was pure torture. I am convinced that our gym Mistress had a huge vicious streak!

    Dream on, girl!!

Our summertime sport was tennis and I was unable even to hit the ball over the net, let alone into the opposite corner! I loved the actual game and wished, oh how I wished, that I could have enjoyed playing. Ultimately I was assigned to being a ball girl – but where would the players be without the ball girl? In winter it was hockey and I hated it! I’d get “thwacked” and bashed, hit by the ball, and tackled most cruelly, but, again, no quarter was given and I had to compete.

(Incidentally, during my basic training for the W.R.A.F later on, I was amazed when we were told that we didn’t have to attempt anything we didn’t feel comfortable doing in the gym. WOW! This lady should have been my P.E. teacher!!)

Senior school was a real struggle for me and I was delighted when, due to a house move, I left at the age of fifteen, having completed four years there. I left without any qualifications but I have no regrets on that score. I attended evenings classes for the next three years, where I learned shorthand, typing and English grammar, ending up with good grades in all subjects. This was an amazing time of learning about what I really wanted to do with my life – secretarial work. And that is exactly what I did for the next 40-odd years!

Sometimes we have to go through terrible times in our lives but I now realise, as a Christian, that God is able to see us through these difficult experiences. He is always there and knows every single thing about us.

The following is taken from The Message Bible. It’s written in everyday language to make it easier to understand. If you don’t know it, I urge you to take a few minutes to read it.

    Psalm 139
    (A psalm of David)

    Verses 1- 6:

    God, investigate my life; get all the facts first hand.
    I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
    You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight.
    You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.
    I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too –
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
    This is too much, too wonderful -I can’t take it all in!

    Verses 7- 12

    Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
    If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
    If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon,
    You’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!
    Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
    It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

    Verses 13 -16

    Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
    I thank you, High God -you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvellously made!
    I worship in adoration -what a creation!
    You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
    You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
    Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
    The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

    Verses 17 -22

    Your thoughts -how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
    I couldn’t even begin to count them – any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
    Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
    And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
    And you murderers – out of here!
    All the men and women who belittle you, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
    See how I hate those who hate you, God,
    see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
    I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
    Your enemies are my enemies!

    Verses 23 -24

    Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me;
    Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about;
    See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.


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Never Assume Anything

My husband and I are very fortunate with our neighbours. We live in the middle of a terrace of modern houses, so we have neighbours on both sides. On one side is a hard-working family with one teenage son and a cat and, on the other side, is a little old lady who wouldn’t say boo! to a goose.

Now, the hard-working family’s teenage son is studying music technology and all that it entails, which includes writing and playing the stuff. He practises in his room after college and some of the sounds emanating through the not-too-thick walls are weird to say the least! But, they are a nice hard-working family so we don’t mind. The husband of the nice hard-working family is a very hard worker. He mends cars for customers of a local garage and, in his spare time, he mends cars for other people. He also likes “do-it-yourself” so, if he has no cars to mend, we will often hear him banging and bashing in his garage. His wife works in an office and in her spare time she keeps their garden looking very trim. I think you will agree that they are a very nice hard-working family, and their cat is very cute.

Now the little old lady next door (who, as you may recall wouldn’t say boo! to a goose) seldom appears outside her door. She was widowed about five years ago and keeps herself to herself. We never hear a sound from her side of the house. We like neighbours like ours.

About a week ago, quite early in the morning, there was suddenly a terrific drilling, banging and bashing coming from next door. “Whatever is going on?”, I asked my beloved husband. Now, because the hard-working family are such nice neighbours we didn’t investigate further because we know that they wouldn’t intentionally cause us any unnecessary distress by their banging and bashing.

The banging and bashing and drilling continued most of the morning so I thought I’d just pop out into the back garden, re-arrange the dustbins and see what was going on.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that it wasn’t anything to do with the nice hard-working family with the teenage son and cute cat! It was the little old lady, and she was having double glazing installed!!!

    Never assume anything until you‘ve checked it out!

So the message here is that there is one very important thing you must never assume. Don’t assume that you are going to Heaven just because you are an upright, hard-working citizen (just like our neighbours). It’s all very creditable, but that alone won’t get you into Heaven.

There is only one way to Heaven and that’s through Jesus Christ.

God sent His only Son to die in our place so that we may be forgiven our wrong-doings, and, therefore, can be assured of spending eternity with Him.

Jesus is not only the central point of all of scripture, He is the point on which all of history revolves. You might enjoy politics, sport, literature, etc., but none of these has any eternal significance. The only thing that has eternal significance in the history of mankind is Jesus Christ and the work that God has done and is doing through him. THAT IS THE TRUTH.

Trust in Him, and Him alone, even though the world would tell you otherwise.

John chapter 14, verses 1-6 says…….

    1. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
    2. In my Father’s are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you 3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

    Jesus the Way to the Father

    5. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
    6. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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Playtime 1950s Style

There are children of all ages in our Church, and Sunday mornings before the service it’s often a bit like Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour! They are a lively bunch, ranging in age from 4 up to 12, older ones tend to gather in groups chatting or texting. The younger group will find almost anything behind or under which to hide whilst playing Hide and Seek and, until it’s rendered impossible, they will often “climb Mount Everest” over the chairs! Then it’s back to the iPod or Tablet. But it’s lovely to see them enjoying themselves and it made me realise just how much children’s games have changed over the years.

One of my favourite games when I was a youngster was usually played indoors. It was simply “Shops”. My sister was the shopkeeper and I had to do the shopping. We had already set it up with any empty packets Mum had saved for us, plus whatever we could beg or borrow from the pantry – things like Bisto, scrubbing soap, Lux flakes, Mansion floor polish, Cardinal red tile polish, bottles and jars of various pastes and tins of whatever we could find. We improvised a counter and then the shop would “open”. “Good morning”, my sister would say as I entered the “shop”, “what can I get you today?” I would “buy” several items, using bottle tops as currency, then after completing my shopping I would have to return it all so that the next customer could be served. (Me again!) We loved it and it cost practically nothing to set up. After our game the items would be returned to the pantry ready for Mum to use for meals.

I was talking to someone recently who said her little girl wanted to play “Shops” so they set it up together and the lady was the customer. As she was serving her Mum, the little girl said, “And where are you going on your holidays this year?” How times have changed.

Another game that we played was hopscotch. We would draw the outlines and off we’d go, hopping from square to square with feet astride the double ones. No touching the lines or you were OUT! It was always drawn on the pavement; flagstones were perfect as the “lines” are already there! I was reading the rules online before I wrote this and it all seems so complicated but we just did it! I saw in an online newspaper recently that a young girl was told that drawing hopscotch grids on the pavement could render her liable to criminal damage! How easy it is to steal a child’s innocence.

Other games were Tick (a chasing game), Marlies (marbles), Fives (tennis without a racquet, only palms) and Cowboys and Indians. Boys (and sometimes girls) would gallop around on their “horses”, pretending they were Roy Rogers. If we didn’t have the equipment to play these games then we’d use our imagination. Trees were great pieces of equipment. Climb to the top and you’re “King of the Castle”, hide in them from the Sheriff of Nottingham, break off a small branch and make a bow and arrow. A tree was also a hideout or a house. Cardboard boxes came in useful, too. They could be a car, a train, a boat. The possibilities were endless. We had fun and it seemed to me that it never rained.

And yet, over the years, there is one thing that has never changed, and never will.

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    (Hebrews 13 verse 8).

God has existed for eternity past and will exist for all eternity to come. He is without beginning or end. He is perfect and therefore cannot change for the better and will not change for the worse. His plans to bring something about cannot be changed.

His promises to his creation seen throughout the Bible will come to pass as they always have, without change.

He sees everything we do and hears everything we say. HE IS GOD.

Why not Google Him today, you won’t be sorry and, who knows, you might change!

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Making Lists

Have you ever thought how important lists are? Most of us at one time or another, or even on a daily basis, make lists of some kind.

I was once told of an old lady who could not function without making lists. She would have a daily bundle of lists covering all aspects of her day by day routine. There was a list called “Chores” on which she would annotate all the cleaning jobs which required to be done in the house. Another list was “Groceries” which, obviously, was a shopping list. If she had planned to visit someone it would be listed, as would any appointments of a medical nature. She then had her reminders for the next day, beginning with “Make Lists”!

I am not quite so pedantic as this dear lady, but, nevertheless, I have to make lists. Given that my grey cells are rapidly depleting, I have now placed a large calendar on my main table and write all the daily appointments I have for the month ahead, adding more as necessary. The only problem is that I often forget to look at the calendar!! Fortunately my husband’s brain is a little younger than mine so we have at least a 50% chance of turning up somewhere on the right day!

There was one very important list that we, as kids, used to make and that was the list to Father Christmas. At the appropriate time we would gather round in the sitting room and write our requests, guided by our parents. Obviously they wouldn’t want us to write down something outrageously impossible for them to produce, but we never knew that, of course. When all three lists had been completed, Dad would light the corner of each list in turn and push it up the chimney. (Don’t try this at home!). Up it would go, en route to Father Christmas. These days, of course, children email their requests, or drop them in the post-box at Asda!

Similarly when we go on holiday, even now, I have to make a list of every single item I’m intending to take in order to ensure that it all goes into the suitcase. Preparing for a holiday last year, I had made up the picnic lunch for the mid-journey break and put it in the ‘fridge overnight. It wasn’t on my list so it didn’t leave the house until we came back a week later and popped it all into the bin!!

We all of us have wish lists, even though these may not be written down. If you had to make a list of the best things that have ever happened to you in your life, who or what would be at the top?

Would it be the person you married, or a child or grandchild; would it be a special holiday or day out?

For me it has to be Jesus at No. 1. From the day He came into my life I have been so blessed, through thick and thin. He has the answers to all of life’s problems. When I asked Jesus to come into my life back in the early 1980s I became a new creation. I didn’t want to be that old person any more. I was changed – instantly!

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?”, “What shall we drink?” or, “With what shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34 NIV)

This is a promise from Jesus that if we seek God’s kingdom, of which Jesus Christ is the head, He will supply our physical needs. Seeking first His kingdom, however, does not merely mean “asking God for a cookie.” It means that following His commandments will be the single top priority in your life.

You, too, can do as I did. Just ask Jesus to come into your life and, if you really mean it, you’ll be amazed at the difference He makes.

God Bless You.

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Living Today

Around our town there are traces of Neolithic people; an army camp has been discovered which had at some time been occupied by the Romans. Coins and a pavement have been found and there are remains of a Norman castle.

Just imagine what those people got up to in those far off days. No Asda there then to do your weekly shop, no car park for whatever form of transport they used and, in their houses, no central heating, microwave, fridge………I could go on endlessly typing all the benefits we now enjoy in the 21st century. How fortunate we are to be living in this technologically advanced age. And yet, when I was small my parents probably thought it was a good time to be alive then.

My father was one of seventeen children and the family lived in a three bedroomed terraced house with a living room, scullery and an outside toilet. There was no garden, just a tiny courtyard, and no sunshine ever penetrated the rows and rows of houses back-to-back. It must have been pretty grim (and grimy!).

Here you can see my grandparents with their family in the back courtyard. There were still three more children to be born, including my father in 1914.

So when Mum and Dad moved into a much larger house after they got married, they doubtless thought it was absolutely wonderful. We had a long garden at the back of the house and Dad used to grow flowers and strawberries. In the greenhouse were lots of tomatoes. It was the responsibility of myself or my sister to water the tomatoes and strawberries each evening during the hot weather. I would have been about seven years old at the time. As I poured the water on the strawberries one day, I looked at those plump, luscious fruit and began to think, “Well Dad won’t miss just one.” Unfortunately, one turned into two, then four, then…..Oh my goodness, they’d almost all gone!! No doubt some form of punishment was meted out!

We had no television, of course, and our radio was the size of a small fridge! I remember Dad saying that we had to wait for the “green eye” to come on (I.e. for the set to warm up) before we could listen. There were only three stations – BBC Light Programme, the Home Service and the Third Programme. I can vividly remember times when my parents would make us sit quietly whilst they listened to Winston Churchill speaking, he seemed to go on and on! One of my many cousins was married to the scriptwriter of a BBC programme and we had to listen very carefully to hear his name mentioned at the end of each broadcast.

We had a huge gramophone that played 78rpm vinyl records. (The copper needle could only be used once). These records can now be purchased in second-hand stores, sometimes for a hefty price, but I remember Dad used to put the scratched ones into the oven for a short time until they softened, and then mould them into different shapes; so a technique that is now fashionable is not so new after all!

We had no telephone, and I was 15 years old before I used one for the first time. I think there was probably only one family in our road who owned a telephone. The British red ‘phone box is famous world-wide now and can often be seen as garden features, but then they were an essential part of life.

Hatherleigh to Iddesleigh 024

Each generation that has lived will probably claim that theirs was the best time to be alive, because, of course, they knew only of improvements on the ones gone before them.

I am one of those people fortunate enough to have lived through an era of dramatic change. Technology seems almost to be tripping itself up as it dashes relentlessly along. I often wonder just how much more advanced we can become!!

But one thing has never, ever changed since time began and that’s God’s love.

He loved us enough to give His one and only Son as the price to be paid for our salvation. Without Jesus’ crucifixion and death we would all be hurtling into an unknown eternity. If you have Jesus you have the sure knowledge of life after death when He comes again.

Don’t delay if you haven’t “sourced” Him yet. You’ll find He’s the best on offer for whatever it is you’re seeking. It’s the most important thing anyone can do.

    I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
    (John 10 verse 9a)

    Jesus said (to Martha): “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
    (John 11 verses 25 and 26)

    Jesus answered: I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.
    (John 14 verse 6)