God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future


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New Year

“Well,” as my Mum used to say on 2nd January each year, “it’s all over for another year”

I’ve never given much thought to her remark until this morning, when I realised I’d been saying the same thing myself for years!!!

It’s odd, don’t you think, that from September onwards every year Christmas and New Year are everywhere: in the shops, on the radio and T.V., in the newspapers. If some cataclysmic event happens somewhere in the world we tend to say, “What a shame it’s happened at Christmas”, but the tragic event would be just as dreadful were it to happen on 12th June, or 31st October.

Christmas, as most of us know, is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, albeit probably not on the precise date. But do we put as much effort into celebrating that wonderful event as we do with the shopping and gift wrapping that means Christmas to so many?

When I was a child I rarely went to church. I remember attending Sunday School but (dare I say) only to collect the picture stickers that would eventually add up to receiving a book, the value of which would reflect how many stickers I’d collected over the year. What’s more I would be eligible to go on the Sunday School outing, the details of which I have no recollection – it must have been somewhat low-key, I fear!

I can’t remember, either, whether or not we had a Nativity Play, but I’m sure there would have been one. I don’t recall ever taking part.

So from this you can see that the religious side of Christmas meant very little to me.

We always had presents and extra food, Santa always came and left us a pillow-case with fruit and sweets in. I know for sure he came because Dad always left him a mince pie and a glass of beer. Next morning they had gone but Santa had left us a note saying, “Thank you” – and Rudolf thanked us for the carrot – magical times!!

New Year was celebrated with a party for Mum and Dad’s friends and we had to go to bed as usual at 7 o’clock. However, at 11.45 Dad would come and wake us up to see the New Year in with them. We’d all stand round the radio waiting for Big Ben to strike twelve and on the final “bong” everyone would cheer and toast the New Year. We kids had to be satisfied with a glass of lemonade, then, back to bed we’d go. I wasn’t sure what it was all about but everyone else seemed to know what was going on!!

Almost Midnight

This year, my husband and I were in bed by 10 p.m. and were undisturbed all night. If there were any fireworks we didn’t hear them – it all passed us by. Perhaps I’m getting too old for strenuous celebrations.

So, may I wish you all a very happy New Year and may 2014 bring you all you desire.

Happy New Year 2014


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Winter 1947

It’s January 1947 and I’m 4½ years old. During the winter of 1946–47 the UK experienced several cold spells, beginning on 21 January 1947, bringing the severest snowfalls for 150 years to the country. Roads were closed and railways became blocked. Coal supplies, already low following the Second World War, struggled to get through to power stations and many were forced to shut down due to lack of fuel. The government introduced several measures to cut power consumption, including restricting domestic electricity to 19 hours per day and cutting industrial supplies completely. Radio broadcasts were limited, and some magazines were ordered to stop being published; newspapers were cut in size. Public morale was very low due to these measures and the Minister of Fuel and Power received death threats and had to be placed under police guard. Towards the end of February there were also fears of a food shortage as supplies were cut off and vegetables frozen into the ground.

Imagine frost on the inside of the bedroom windows! We had no central heating, just one coal fire in the front room. At night Mum would find as many blankets as she could, after which it was coats to keep us warm. The bedroom floor was covered in linoleum, not carpet, so our feet felt as if they would stick to the cold floor when we walked. I recall going with Mum to the coal merchant and pretending that I was someone else’s little girl so that Mum could get an extra bag of fuel. So two bags of coal were loaded into the baby’s pram (he wasn’t in it at the time!)

It was grim! It has gone down in history as one of the severest winters in living memory. However, as I was such a small child it hardly seemed to affect me. I don’t remember going without food, but it must have been very hard for my parents.


One thing I do remember with vivid clarity was the time I was stuck in a snow drift up to my armpits. Now, you might think that’s hilariously funny (I do, now!) but for a 4½ year old it was terrifying. I’d been sent out to play so that Mum could “get on with things” (probably connected to my seven-month old brother). So, off I went on my adventure. I have no idea what I was thinking about but I can remember a sudden “sinking” feeling. Apparently I’d stepped where there was a snow-covered ditch and down I went. When I think now of what might have happened I am horrified but I must have shouted or cried so loudly that someone came along and pulled me out.

I’m not sure to this day whether I received loving cuddles or not when I arrived home soaking wet, frozen cold and a very unhappy bunny.

I love reminiscing about my childhood as it makes me reaslie just how fortunate we are these days.

We’ve been warned that this winter may well be as bad as 1947, but, even if that transpires to be true, we will have a better time of it than we did 67 years ago.

How our lives have changed since then. And most of us, including myself, take so much of it for granted. Heating, lighting, carpets, well-stocked shops and supermarkets. We really have it all.

So, please, if you’re reading this and you are living where there is plenty, spare a thought for those people, even in Europe and America, who have little or nothing to look forward to this Christmas because of poverty.

And thank God for what you have!!


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Feelings

I wanted to write a blog about “Feelings” and to go with it I wanted to add the Morris Albert song “Feelings”. As I trawled the internet, I discovered this delightful little ditty about feelings. Watch it and enjoy!

The way we act and react with those around us depends on our own feelings. Sometimes, as the song says, we’re a bit grumpy so we put on our grumpy face. If we’re happy, out comes the happy face. (I have a cupboard full of different faces for all occasions!)

Sometimes, though, we might prefer to keep our feelings to ourselves, but our eyes will always give us away. Look in a mirror and put on a (pretend) grumpy face. Your eyes aren’t smiling, are they? No, the lids droop, the brow furrows and the “grump” spreads all over your face. Maybe your shoulders sag a little, too. There is a long-held belief that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, but I can’t imagine how they would be able to calculate that one. (Picture the researcher frowning whilst concentrating!!).

Have you ever said something, quite innocently, and the person to whom you’re speaking is offended – you’ve hurt their feelings? It’s called “putting your foot in it”. However, whilst it’s not easy to physically put your foot in your mouth (don’t try this at home!), it’s often not difficult to upset someone’s feelings.

So what’s the answer? Well, you just go to the person you’ve upset, say you’re sorry and promise not to do it again. But you no doubt will!!

The reason I’m writing this piece is that I’ve often wondered what Jesus was feeling during His trial and crucifixion.

He knew that it was going to happen and He knew the exact time it would happen. He gave Himself up to His accusers in the Garden at Gethsemane. Imagine the feelings He must have had. He was human as well as God, so He felt all our emotions. As you read the Bible you’ll come across several passages where it tells us of His feelings.

He wept when He heard that Lazarus had died (John 11 verse 35)
He slept in the boat with His disciples (Mark 4 verse 38)
He was hungry because He had fasted for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4 verse 2)
He was thirsty whilst on the Cross. (John 19 verse 28)

He felt all the things we feel.

Imagine the pain and agony He went through on that Cross, just for YOU. He was the only sacrifice good enough for God to forgive us all our wrong-doings, past, present and future.

At this Christmastime, when thoughts of the Baby Jesus are in people’s minds, think about what He did for you.

I make no apologies for ending with, probably, the most famous verse in the Bible.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”
(John 3 verse 16)

Now how do you feel?


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The X Factor

It’s quite possible that you’ve done a Google search for the “X Factor” talent show and come up with this, but please read on!

Almost five years ago I returned to U.K. after having lived in France for some years. Whilst we were there we became used to living without English language T.V., so you can imagine what delights awaited us on our return! Amongst many changes that had taken place in our absence was the arrival of “The X Factor” talent show. Thinking about this recently I began reflecting on earlier shows in the same genre, but 1970s style not 2010s. In those days we were less sophisticated than people are nowadays and these talent shows would send a modern audience to sleep in ten seconds flat! I was watching some of those old programmes whilst researching for this blog and, oh my!, they really were cringe-worthy! It merits a visit to You Tube to see them. Look for “New Faces” and “Opportunity Knocks”

Today’s X Factor (and Britain’s Got Talent) are so very different to the ones I’d remembered. Now there are huge audiences, star-studded judging panels, mentoring and heats taking place in exotic locations, but when it all boils down to the final analysis, nothing really changes. It’s all fake – the tears, the drama, the “tension” – and what is there afterwards for these people? Maybe a lucrative career, maybe not.

But, in actual fact, my blog has absolutely nothing at all to do with talent shows. It’s the title “X Factor” that’s important.

With Christmas fast approaching I’ve been noticing things in the stores that have changed from last year. We all know that for years that Christmas has become less to do with Jesus’ birth and more to do with retailing. This year I’ve noticed that cakes and mince pies are labelled “Seasonal Cakes” or “Festive Mince Pies”. No more Christmas cakes it seems! We’ve already had the Yule Log with us for years. However, the one thing that’s been around the longest and hurts me the most is the use of the word “Xmas“. Everywhere you look on packaging, signs, cards – almost everything is “Xmas” Why replace Christ with an “X”? Can people no longer say His name? And if they don’t believe in Jesus or have no time for Him, then why celebrate the time of His birth at all?

    The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.
    Billy Graham

Yes, we all like to receive gifts at Christmas. Just remember, the greatest gift that was ever given was when God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, lived in obscurity until He was thirty, died on the Cross, rose again and is now seated at the right hand of God.

Make Him part of your Christmas this year.

Nativity Scene

(Luke chapter 2 verses 8 to 20 N.I.V.)

    “8. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
    13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
    14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
    15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
    16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”


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Nativity Photo Shoot

Some years ago, my daughter was asked to write and produce a short dramatic piece about Christmas, and, as I wasn’t allowed to see anything before the actual performance, I had no idea what was coming. What she came up with amazed me.

As the curtains opened, we saw the stage filled with a Nativity Scene – A Star, Angels, Shepherds, Wise Men, Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus in His manger. You could have heard a pin drop!

Nativity Scene

Suddenly, in burst a photographer, apologising for being late. “Where’s this wondrous event?“ he asked. He said he didn’t have much time to arrange the group properly but it was obvious to him that there were going to be too many people “in the shot”. He then set about squashing people in and moving them about, just to get his picture “perfect”. He moved the Shepherds to the front, sitting cross-legged, then the Wise Men were made to stand at the back, with Mary and Joseph in front of them. The animals had to go, of course – they wouldn’t keep still! But the photographer still wasn’t happy. He said that the Baby would have to be removed so as to fit everything else in.

How many of us have, at some time or another, moved God aside so as to get on with our busy lives? The excuses can come thick and fast:

“I can’t go to Church on Sunday because……….” (Family visiting, going out with friends, Car Boot Sale, etc. etc”)

I can’t read my Bible because……. “ (Too busy, too noisy, can’t fit it in, etc. etc”)

“I can’t pray because………” (Too busy, can’t think what to pray about, can’t concentrate, etc. etc”)

There are millions of reasons why we can’t do something, but one vitally important why we should.

God made us and He loves us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us – that’s YOU as well! He cares for us and is concerned with everything we do, say and feel.

So, come to Him each day, even for just a few minutes, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make to your day.

I love this poem:

    I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;
    I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t have time to pray.
    Problems just tumbled about me,
    and heavier came each task,
    “Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.
    He answered, “You didn’t ask.”

    I wanted to see joy and beauty,
    but the day toiled on grey and bleak;
    I wondered why God didn’t show me;
    He said, “But you didn’t seek.”

    I tried to come into God’s presence;
    I used all my keys at the lock;
    God gently and lovingly chided,
    “My child, you didn’t knock.”

    I woke up early this morning,
    and paused before entering the day;
    I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

    (Grace L. Naessens)

God Bless.


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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.

Differences

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“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” (“The Go-Between” by L. P. Hartley)

I watched a T.V. programme the other evening entitled “Call The Midwife”. This is a drama set in the late 1950s on the subject of, well, midwives, which set me thinking just how much we’ve advanced in every respect since then – how times have changed in those 50-odd years.

When I was eight years old (in 1950), family life was all-important. Families ate together, played together and (usually) stayed together. We had no television and very little money, but always had one holiday a year at a caravan site by the sea in Wales. We didn’t own a camera (luxury item!) so there is no record of these holidays, but I’ve never forgotten them. It was something we looked forward to all year. I used to love the train journeys almost as much as our time on the beach – hearing the whistle blow as we entered a tunnel, leaning out of the window to see the fields and towns passing by (and very often getting a smut in my eye from the smoke!). But it was magical.

Similarly, Christmas was a time for families to get together and my Gran always came to visit us on Boxing Day. We would finish off the turkey, play parlour games and always play cards for pennies, before going off the bed at 7.00 p.m. It never occurred to me until now that my Grandma wasn’t there the next day. I have no idea how she got home as we never owned a car and she lived about 30 miles away!

1937 Royal Enfield KX37

Our Christmases were real fun. On Christmas Eve just before going to bed, my Dad would prepare “Santa’s supper” comprising two mince pies and a glass of beer, plus a carrot for Santa’s reindeer. Santa always left a note to say “Thank You” for his supper. (These days we can track Santa by satellite on his Christmas Eve journey as he travels around the world). At bedtime we would hang an empty pillow case at the bottom of the bed and in the morning it would still be there, but with small gifts inside, usually a book, a roll of sweets and an apple or orange. (Sweets were a great treat as they were rationed after the war until 1952.) Then we’d rush downstairs to find our presents. I can remember having a doll’s pram one year and my sister had a doll’s house that Dad had made. We expected nothing and were delighted with what we had.

Nowadays, when I see parents buying so much at Christmastime and children expecting so much it saddens me that the world is so full of greed and selfishness. The true meaning of Christmas has been almost completely forgotten. Yes, schools might have a Nativity Play, and yes, the children probably sing the carols but how many know the real story of Christmas? Why Jesus came.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
1 Timothy 1 verse 15

“I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly”
John Chapter 10 verse 10