NO. 5: THE CREDITS: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am writing this…

And so, to the most important part of my life – the people. These people have made me who I am today. Each one of them has brought something unique, from whom I have learnt to be a better me. With most of them, I have laughed a great deal, most of them have seen me cry, all have loved me more than I probably deserved. I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone out x

I did write this weeks ago, but more than ever, I hope my father can hear me, all the way over here. I also have put the Hubster in an earlier section, and my children, well, what they have taught me is another story altogether.

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I can’t begin to thank my family Lennons for all that they have given me. My mother is warm and loving and smarter than she knows, and my father was right, I did need to slow down and there’s no such thing as an accident, but dad, you don’t need to live in fear and worry.  Please my dear father, do this one thing for me. Put as much effort into getting help for your bodily pain as you do worrying about it. As wise Merit says, you need to change your diet, start doing yoga and/or get a dog so that you can relax. Your health was the number one reason that I would have come home (and that I know you both miss your grandchildren so much) but I can’t make you take care of yourself, only you can. Do it quickly, because I love you more than pretty much anybody else on earth and I’m not ready to let you go. My dear brother, forgive me that I have never really known how to be a good sister to you, I love you. As I watch wee Flo mimic everything her big brother does, just wanting to be near him, I see you, Ju and I playing together. You will never stop being someone I look up to. My hope for you is the same as for Carol, below. And my sister, who I have walked behind for so many years, I find it hard to express how much I love you. From the comfort you brought me as a child, to your love and support of me and my family in so many ways, especially financially and practically, I owe you so much. Including a picture. But mum, I really did need a puppy all those years ago, because I needed to learn how to care for something other than me.

The Hutchinson-Smiths have been such a wise, funny, generous family to all of us. The Halls and the Stearns welcomed me in to their family, and I am so grateful. I’m sorry to my mother in law that I found it so hard in the beginning, with Ethan. I was very defensive of what I knew was wrong in my life, and needed your help and instead, I reacted badly. I love that we share a similar taste in books, and Classic FM. And I love being with you.  I hope and pray that the love and understanding that you deserved and never got in your marriage will come in the future. Anything is possible. You raised my husband and his brother so well, and I am so, so grateful to you. You did a great job x

My father in law is one of the most interesting people I know. It has been such a pleasure to get to know you over these last few years – not always easy I grant you – but never a dull moment. There’s lots to say, but for now, we love you – the collective JEFF thinks you are pretty awesome. Merit, you are generous to your core, and a-one-of-a kind, extraordinary woman. Without your kindness, by letting us live in your house for a year, paying for our visas, and so much more, we literally wouldn’t be here. Please take time to look after yourself!

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There are many saints (in the biblical sense: believers) who have walked before me and to whom I owe a great debt of thanks for showing me the path I should take. I know that my way has, and will have, included much suffering and sorrow, so must have yours, or else you would not be the people you are.

To those I don’t know, but hearing their teaching directly changed the course of my life, thank you:

– Jackie Pulliger, Bill Wilson, and Terry Law.

To those I do know,

  • The Ghent family, particularly Ruth Mae. I learnt more about being a Christian wife and mother in 3mths with you over 15 years ago than in any other time in my life. 
  • Andrew and Sue Owen. Thank you for all that you taught me. You words and actions come back richly to me now.
  • George Alexander, a great teacher. It was a wonder to hear you first thing on a Monday morning. I am still thinking it all over. 
  • Jan Treadgold, who heard my confession.
  • Jane Gebbie, I didn’t always understand what you said at the time but now I do, thank you.
  • Peter Anderson. Your enthusiasm and integrity is a beacon of light. I’m so happy to have built with you and all at Destiny
  • Auntie Christine. You have dealt with so much, over so many years. I have listened to you, watched you and laughed with you (sometimes being laughed at!?) and your words and actions have been essential to keep me going at times. 
  • Marilyn Duff. My salvation is in part due to you, you are a wonderful, special person, and although this world has been tough to you, you have made it a better place.
  • Jo, I just love you and miss you. Walking with you on this journey has been a joy, filled with laughter. Thank you for everything.
  • Jacki, you encouraged me and kept me going when I had nothing left. The best is yet to come.
  • Jolene and Jennifer, my newest ‘J’s’, my time in Dallas has been so much better with you in it, thank you, wherever you end up, it will be a better place having you there.
  • Dr Jennifer, thank you for listening, and for asking the right questions. 
  • Emily Dodd, you are an outstanding human being, and an inspiration to me. I often  find things that I think you would like and want to tell you about it. 
  • To the Stansberrys, Fritsches, Kimmels, Cramers, Hootens, Goulets, Bowlers, Wakeems, Pfeifers, Pittmans amongst others, you have already carried and supported our family so far in this last while, I hope we can keep going forward together.
  • Edd and Jen your friendship has brought me through so much, and has been so much fun. I’m so pleased that you now have such wonderful partners, who are right for you and who I love as much as I love you.
  • Beth, you are my favourite dance partner. Whoever your fella is, is just about the luckiest man around. I think maybe you need to do like me though, you need to take a deep breath and dive in. You’ve been searching for a long time for His heart and He is desperate for you to find Him. Make one choice at a time. I think that’s all we are able to do.
  • Emma S (?) – how we laughed as we talked about sex! I thought it might be hard, but I knew you’d get through it.
  • My dear Ortons, so far away, you are wonderful. I miss your friendship but I know you are where you should be, for now. I’m thinking that between you, you may be running a country one day. 
  • Norman and the family Stones. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, You are wonderfully talented, kind and brilliant. Norman, thank you for teaching me so much about the industry. The first thing you ever said to me was, ‘Are you hungry?’ And gave me some food. Love it. What a great teacher. You fed me in lots of other ways as well. I just watched C.S.Lewis again – it was a tough one but I’d forgotten how good it is. Thank you.
  • MOPS at Lakewood Baptist. I think without doubt, this group of extraordinary and ordinary mothers have brought me closest to where I am right now, more than anything else in the last few years. You fed me physically, mentally and spiritually when I was so hungry and couldn’t feed myself. You let me cry openly and talk too much. You taught me crafts and tips that I would never have thought of myself, and all the time you looked after my children. Thank you so, so much.

For my Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Newcastle, Canadian, Aussie, NZ, NI peeps, and all, thank you. And I am from Newcastle, as much as my spiritual home is Scotland and Northern Ireland. I’m excited about the new pope and new archbishop of Canterbury. From what I hear, they are wise, and humble and servants of God. As my pastor Peter was so strict on, disunity and gossip in the church are two of the most harmful things and must be addressed quickly.  Let’s hope we can stop bickering, us prods and Catholics  and after 1000’s of years of fighting, work out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

  • Crazy Nancy – you are crazy and wonderful and very, very smart and talented. Never before has one mis-placed chocolate orange led to such a great friendship. 
  • My Dallas ‘moms’, especially Amy, Katie, Melaine, Michelle, Lauren, Lawra, Brenda, you have been so supportive of us, and we love having all your families in our life. 
  • Lyanne and Angie, I think it has cost you dearly to be the magnificent wives and mothers that you are. You are two of the most beautiful women I know. Thank you for your unwavering and ever generous heart to me and my family. It’s time you had a rest too.
  • Emma, my oldest friend. We had a lot of fun didn’t we? Our parents gave us a great gift in the freedom to be kids and play our make-up games. I’m glad we got to do it together.
  • All of my friends – dahn sahf – J’s pals. Thank you for taking care of him, he needed you!
  • Kathy King, and Savannah, my friends – my first in coming to Texas – have taught me so much, and have been so generous to us as a family. 
  • Colin Goudie – never before has such enthusiasm been matched. We love you, you are so talented, and so good to be around. We loved Anne dearly, and are so glad to hear about your happiness now.
  • Alex Mena – how fortunate I am that you did call! So, so good to be your friend, working with you, and figuring this all out together.
  • My Illusionist family, I’m sorry I didn’t know more at the time. I would have been much better at my job. But I probably would have been fired in a week, by offending someone. But you’re all great and talented and I hope you are the ones picking up the Oscars before long.  Paul and Bob, it was really great, and hard, and brilliant to get to hang out with you for all those years. I learnt so much from you both. I do miss you hanging out with you. I hope you’re doing well. And Javi was totally, totally right about needing a siesta in the afternoon.
  • St James Episcopal school. You have been an un-ending blessing to us and our family. Your teaching, your patience and love, and because you took Ethan off my hands for a few hours, well,  you may have saved my sanity. 
  • My Stirling posse – Jo, John, Bev, Lindsey and Elaine. I know it wasn’t always easy, but those four years that I lived with you, I remember as I time of never ending laughter (even when I needed to sleep). Your friendship is second to none, and through the hurts we have all experienced, I hope we will keep laughing.
  • Kathleen and Dan, I’m sorry about not inviting you to our wedding, if that was what caused the rift in our friendship. I don’t know what happened. I’d love to meet Cormac, I love the name.

You are invited to the renewing our our vows on the banks of the beautiful White Rock Lake, Dallas, to celebrate 7 years of marriage (much more significant than 10 to me), in October. In fact you all are – Dallas friends, meet my brilliant world buddies, its about time you met and found out why I love you all so much. 

My wonderful, beautiful friend Anna in Edinburgh had a vision, which I share with her, to have a place of healing, space, listening, beauty, practical support and prayer for all who needed it, especially mothers. They are the ones who are often worn out but who are holding everything together. I desperately want to create that in here Dallas – among all our stuff here I don’t think we have it. I want it to be free or low cost at the point of access (the theory of the NHS is really a wonderful thing, even if we’ve never quite got it right, don’t stop trying UK). I know where the perfect building is to do it, I know the people who could run it, design it and work in it. Most of them live within a mile of it. If anyone else would like to do that I’d love to talk to you.

I would quite happily live out the rest of my days working doing that, maybe making the odd film, learning to cook with local food, maybe a bit of singing and dancing. And I have a ton of ideas for pieces of art that express my heart without talking as much as I have here. And God willing, visit a few more places, like Beijing and Norway and Sweden and Argentina and Australia, and New Zealand and Africa and more of America, and Europe and Japan and South America. And the beautiful country and city of my daughter’s name. I really, really do want to learn how to stop talking and control my tongue like in James and most of proverbs, which has more wisdom in it than I can even start to understand.

On the walls of the central library in Edinburgh are words from proverbs, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Go see it when you visit that magnificent city.

 TBC… and, that’ll be the last one…

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PART 4. LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am writing this….

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend.

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I think that dancing, laughing, eating good fresh food, loving nature, music and art are universal and are to be enjoyed by everyone regularly. Singing  is particularly important and powerful. But no one way of doing it is better than another.

Personally, right now I’m listening to Babel by Mumford and Sons, singing the old hymns, dancing with my children to anything you can have a good dance to, and I just got hold of Graceland again. I’m finally appreciating silence. As I teenager, without proper direction, hurt, confused and angry, I loved the prodigy – music for a jilted generation, the doors, nirvana, the cure (still love them), and the smiths but also U2 and the Beatles. I had a huge crush on Bono, from when he went down and picked that girl out of the crowd at Live Aid. And don’t tell anyone, but I think he is still my secret crush. I loved Cindy Laupers album – A Night to Remember. I can tell you the Beatles films off by heart, I watched them nonstop. (Although I was also watching Pink Floyd, The Wall, at the same time, and was falling in love with film because of the amazing Robert De Niro in Godfather 2 and Taxi Driver). My maiden name is Lennon, and when I was young, I found an album with a person with the same name on it. I thought he must be family. I could be wrong, but I think my dad said that he could have gone to a party with them all when they came to Newcastle in the 60’s. Like, OMG! I always loved John the best but also I really liked Yoko too, and I really liked the way that they loved each other.

I thought this picture was it, but still wanted the riches of our modern world. I was wrong. I  learnt pretty early on, again with hurt to me and others, that drink, drugs, sex and hedonism is fun but pointless and destructive.  Please forgive me, all that I hurt at that time.

jilted gen

King Solomon said it much better than me – Ecclesiastes is a great read. Solomon was richer and more powerful that anyone here today and this is what he concluded:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

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I’m learning that if I can’t explain it to a child, in a way that they understand, I’m saying too much. And that real laughter and sobbing can sound the same at first. They both take your breath away.

My body is beautiful, especially when pregnant. I do need to take more care of my skin, hair and teeth though. I do have a bit too much hair for my liking, but God is gracious! I’m thinking I may get the braces that I was too ashamed to get as a child.

I think we underestimate everything, especially ourselves. Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech says it so much better.

I think everyone is a bit of nature and nurture and their own choices but none of these have to define us. I have a genetic tendency for hemorrhoids; it doesn’t mean that’s what I am.

Farting is just funny. In our house, they’re called windypups and they make us all laugh.

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Art and science are not exclusive, they are meant to inform each other. Some of us have inclinations for one in particular, but maybe you can’t have one without the other, and understand truth fully. The universal is bigger than I can even start to imagine, and smaller than anything I will ever know. I just don’t have all the answers of how it all that stuff fits together but I’m glad that other people are curious and diligent to want to find out. From what I understand, quantum physics is basically about how things change their nature when they’re observed. And that things can be 2 separate things at the same time, a wave and a particle, dead and alive. Well, I think your right. I think we are observed by a being that for want of a better word we called god, and his observation of us changes our behaviour. And instead of reducing him to the size of a wafer on Sunday, he is as big as all the parallel universes that you can’t even begin to imagine. And I am both alive in Christ and dead to myself at the same time. My great teacher George Alexander said we have to hold it all in tension, all the conflicts of belief, because everything is two things at the same time. Although it is easier for our tiny finite, lovable, under-used brains that they are just one. And maybe this creator had the infinite galaxies for us to explore like in Star Trek or Dr Who but we’ve been too busy trying to take land, power and resources from each other, or by painting or nails and curling our hair – in a quest to make up for what is lacking inside – to pay attention to all the fun we could have been having. Or maybe we were so noisy, the creator needed the whole of the rest of the universe to rest in.

I think opposites attract is an important principle. Like repels like. Men and women are different for a reason. The colours of our skin are different for a reason. We have different abilities for a reason. I know it is comforting to stay with what you know, it is safer, but it is not right. Living in a community where there is just your own colour or background just makes fear of the other worse. Interracial marriage is one of the most wonderful things in the world. It’s tough, I’m sure, but I get a real thrill when I see it. (Kate and Consol, you’re beautiful people and I can’t wait to meet your little girl when she comes). Racism and sexism are born out of our of fear of the other, usually white men who have had their way for too long. Men have literally raped, beaten, abused and neglected those that were in your care – their women. There’s grace for them, but its time you took up the responsibility that is theirs. ‘You have caused confusion and delay’, as the Fat Controller in Thomas would say. Times are changing fellas, I would love to see a world where the African, South American, Indian and Asian nations have a more equal say, and take up the responsibility they hold, not being beholden to the whites, but lovingly, carefully, responsibly bringing their own unique characteristics to the world. I do have a evolving theory, that the African Americans/Africans have suffered more than most in this world, and maybe they have a really special place to play in the future. Many have tried to suppress their great spirit but none ever could. You are better than the guns, drugs and warring give you credit for my friends. And the Jewish people will always have a very important place in God’s heart. My Lord was Jewish, and I respect this people, including those in my family, that have gone before me.

Maybe the wonderful Latina woman, Imelda, who has cleaned many a house and toilet in Dallas, could be a better leader than we have now? Or her wonderfully bright and generous son. (And I don’t think you should ask someone to clean your toilet unless you’re sick or have a disability. No one likes doing it and maybe it is to remind us of our stinky humanity).

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Unlike my wonderful  father in law, who has taught me much, I don’t know enough about the other religions to really know how they fit in. The desperately wicked things that have been done in the name of Christ or by his people, from the Crusades, to slavery and child abuse by priests and cruelty by nuns, (see film, the The Magdeline Sisters), will be repaid, I have no doubt of that. But as I heard someone say, what about the countries who rejected God altogether? How many millions and millions died at the hands of Stalin, communist China or under Pol Pot? As my friend Jo and I concluded after studying Marx, Weber and Durkheim  for a semester “Yes, its nice in theory  but it just doesn’t work in practice”. Unless people are compelled to share what they have with others from a deep seated love of God, knowing that none of their possessions are theirs anyway, I think the socialist way can’t work because above all else, the human heart is evil. I really need to get into , The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Ravi Zacharias has been blessed with an ability to say it all  much better than me! http://www.rzim.org/.   I do know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that those who deny that unfortunately are misguided. I think we have so much to learn from the Muslim community about diligence, the need for regular prayer, respect and family. But I don’t think good works get you to God. The true Buddhists can teach us about peace, respect and inner reflection, but my experience has been that without Jesus at the centre, it’s impossible to find true and lasting peace. Japan and the Japanese people will always have a special place in my heart, and I really do love their traditional food, design, ideas on space and order, simplicity, honour, respect for others and love of nature, more than most other cultures. I will try again to learn your language to understand you more. But worship the creator and not the creation.

LGBT community – I believe the Christian community owes you a huge apology. We have represented God to you in such a way that we have made you hurt so bad and made you angry. I should say, I only have vague ideas on this, and I am still thinking it all through.

When God said let us make man (human beings) in his image, I think ‘he/she/it’ meant just that. And God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, but I’ve only just realised that The Holy Spirit’s character is more like the female figure. Maybe something to do with mother nature, call her what you will. She is extremely powerful, wild, fun, a comforter, a guide, a counsellor , a teacher, is wisdom itself, is gentle, infinitely loving, and has a still small voice.  Her Son learnt from her, and she is the ultimate in obedience. She will not come to you unless she is invited, but she can sometimes knock really loudly. On earth, maybe men and women were meant to look like our spiritual counterparts but we, being us, have got it terribly wrong. And sin just means ‘short of the mark, like an arrow when it doesn’t meet it’s target, not that you are bad and evil and unforgivable. Quite the opposite.

I’ve learnt that it is almost impossible to trust an invisible all powerful being until you have had a human being on earth that you have been able to fully trust and who loves you. I personally couldn’t do it and wondered why the whole time I called myself a believer, why I couldn’t fully trust Him, when he said it was so important to do so. I know now I do trust at least one person on earth, and actually a lot more, and it has released me to trust God. Those of you who have got close to him and been rejected by the rules and hypocrisy of the church, who expected you to perform or be a certain way without loving you first and gaining your respect and trust, well I admire you hugely and I’m sorry for what the body of Christ has done.

I clearly can not speak for you all, but those of your community that I know and love, are some of the most loving, caring, fun, intelligent, creative people to be around. It is not our role to judge anyone, God alone is judge. My understanding  is that the bible teaches us to admonish and encourage those within our spiritual community when they sin, (and you are not sinful if you truly love, lust is sinful), not those who do not believe in Him. My marriage is not in any way diminished by you marrying (if by marriage we mean one partner for life, that we love who is our cheerleader and encourager for life), but I believe God’s plan was for a man and a woman, see above – like repels like, opposites attract. It’s tough for a reason. We can’t do it unless God helps us. My experience has been that my friends who are gay have been deeply let down by the same sex figure in their lives, and the love that they so desperately needed – and were more sensitive to not getting by design – was cruelly and painfully taken from them. The figure of God that should have been represented by those on earth was deeply corrupted.   I’m so so sorry.  I would like to listen to your stories. And better that a child be in the house of a gay couple being really loved, than in a house of hypocrisy and abuse.

TBC…..

PART 3. XX – XY: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am writing this….

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend.

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On a happier note, I have finally understood how to talk to the men in my family. They are brilliant, remarkable people. But I’ve learnt I need to speak slower, and more clearly, for them to understand me. And forgive me, slowing down is a new concept for me, so I am just learning how to do it. And it’s exactly how Jesus has to talk with me (see Hebrews 12, 1-3, below).I do not mean to patronize them,  I know they are very, very intelligent. But I need to say one thing and make sure they understood that before I move on to the next idea.  Too much noise and too many people are particularly overwhelming. They communicate in a way that is not always easy for others to understand, and they don’t always understand why others don’t understand their intentions and feelings. They are people who love deeply, but find it hard to express that, and who are very loyal but don’t like too much physical contact. They like just being around those they love, just their presence is enough, and it’s not good for them to be on their own for long, as they get too lost in their own thoughts and worlds.

For the women in my life, including me, I have finally understood, that we give and give and give and then get annoyed that others take so much, with little thanks. We need to create strong boundaries, gently but firmly tell people (ie esp the men in our lives, above) when they invading them, and no matter what the consequences, walk away for a while to be on our own and recharge. It may get a little crazy for a while as those people have to swim on their own without us constantly holding them up, but they will be ok. They need to not have us as safety net all the time (the only one who can do that is God) – they need to fail sometimes so that they can be the magnificent men they were meant to be.

Knowing this and not doing it came close to destroying my beautiful family. I made the classic mistake, that I said I wouldn’t, of putting my children first, making it hard for my husband to get a look in, and my God came a distant third. I’m having to undo a lot with my 3 1/2 year old, and a little with my 11mth old, but I’m on the right track I think. But when you crank the oven on with your son’s lego piece still in it ( that he was using to make imaginary cookies) and smoke starts rising up and a funny plastic smell is coming out the oven, as I did the other week, you know you’re not concentrating as much as you should be.

Believe me, I know how to multitask. I have been trying to cook, clean, wash, tidy, sort, and shop for my household, whilst trying to produce a (fantastic) WW2 documentary film, read books and write tests on nutrition, plan for my children’s education, work out how to raise them as decent human beings, be a loving wife, a good daughter and friend to my beloved family scattered across the globe, take care of snotty noses and sore teeth whilst trying to make my children smile, serve diligently at church, all in a foreign country where being poor is often seen as the equivalent as moral failure. Before that I was second-in-charge of a multi-million pound film, in 3 countries, doing the job of 5 people. I think I took pride in doing a hundred things at once.

All this while trying to look like I’m keeping it together. I did a terrible job of doing that, and didn’t know until recently that more than likely, I’ve had postnatal depression since the birth of my son. And we just never had enough money. We got ourselves into debt just from moving country and not having a lot of money (and not buying crazy stuff mind you, eg, a bed) and there were times when I didn’t have enough money to get food for my family, without further adding to our burden of debt. We are paying a mortgage on a beautiful flat which we have now completely outgrown and can’t live in, but we can’t afford to miss a payment for one month or our debt would skyrocket. (Does anyone want to buy a lovely flat in Edinburgh, there’s a few things we’d like to keep, but otherwise its fully furnished. Our tenants would be our first choice to buy ;-)).  And no wonder I didn’t have time to take a shower! So, yes, I know how to multitask. But should I? No. I’m thinking that ‘Should’, should be used sparingly. ‘Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should’ is just about the only context I can think of for it.

I definitely don’t want fame, I definitely don’t want to be on a reality TV show, I don’t want money that I haven’t earned fairly. And I don’t need you to tell me I’m beautiful because I am. How hard is it for us to say that of ourselves women? I come from a culture and a household, where putting yourself down is what we do everyday. I was taught not to speak too highly of myself. And yes, to a degree, they were trying to teach me to be humble. But what they created was someone who was not self-confident, did not respect herself or her body, and who did not love the person within. When I tell a woman that she looks beautiful today it is because she is very beautiful to me, but it’s not a sexual thing, or it’s not that I want them to think better of me, or that I want something from them. When I used to watch the millions of diamonds in the sun-shining on the water of a canal in Edinburgh, and I couldn’t help but stop and be amazed at their beauty, so I look at these women and see an amazingly beautiful thing that I can’t help but stop and reflect on.

I love my husband. I want to learn how to honour and obey him, and listen to him properly.  I never thought it was important but I do now. And not so that he can ‘dominate’ me, because he loves me as Christ loves the church and gave up his life for it. He has always loved me that way, even though he finds it hard to express it in words. I would have married him from the instant I could do nothing else but kiss him on that couch all those years ago. It took him a little longer to get there, but he did. He helps to me make me feel secure (but ultimately only God can do that), he makes me laugh like no one else, he likes the things I like, he watched ANTM cos was my vice and it fascinated me, he is so smart, creative and talented and sexy. He’s just brilliant.  I want to be a psalm 31 wife to you. But I did stop dancing because you weren’t comfortable doing it, and if its ok with you, I think I need to go do that again.

There’s a line in one of the sections in Paris Je T’aime that I love. A (French) man is about to leave his wife of many years to be with his beautiful younger lover. He meets his wife to tell her she’s leaving her, and she tells him she is dying of cancer. He is ashamed, and knows that he can’t leave her, as much as he would clearly prefer to be with the other woman. So he stays, and gives up his mistress. And then it says

“and so acting like a man in love, he became a man in love’.

So he learned to love her again, and cares for her until she dies, loving her intensely.  We can all be like that, if we have gone astray a bit. Fake it till you make it and all that.

 TBC…

Part. 2: U.S.A: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am having this rant….

Also, it would be good to read this first – 8 Reasons why America is good.   Until I moved here, my experience  had been pretty negative in the US – really rubbish things happened to me on the first 4 times that I came here. The 5th time was to Dallas, and Texas, and I finally saw that I may be able to live here. And God, with a wry smile, gave me my love – my husband – who is an American, so America, you are part of me too now and I am part of you.

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend. 

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Dallas – please, SLOW DOWN.

You are a city of hidden beauty and depths – it took me 2 years to even start to find it. You are a warm and welcoming people. But you need to slow down, stop buying things you don’t need, stop building mcmansions you don’t need and getting into crazy debt.

Please stop drinking and driving. It’s not cool and your killing yourselves. I don’t think we were not meant to live in our cars, we are at our best when we live close to our lives and interact with the people close by. Our church has a plan to live deep and love local, which is exactly what I intend to do.

Public transport is not a dirty word, and is not a sign of poverty. Driving is a privilege not a right. I believe if you had a decent driving test (I was told exactly how to drive the car, whilst going round one block. It took 5 mins and then I was told I can drive on your roads), you had more roundabouts (which seems to keep the  traffic moving better, and is less expensive than lights), and you had manual cars (they are more fun to drive, more economical, teaches you more about cars, and you need two hands, ie its harder to text and drive), you would be happier and safer. I’ve always had a problem with your ‘turn right on a red light’ rule, but I didn’t really know why it bothered me. But now do. Red means stop, and green means go. A year ago, when my then 2 year old wonders why  I am going, even though I had already told him that red means stop, and I have to say to him “I am going because, well, we’re in America and  you can turn right on a red light if its safe”, then you know you have made things more complicated that it needs to me. Now, again, this is just my opinion, but it seems to me, this rule was born out of impatience. And if there were more roundabouts, you wouldn’t have this problem. People who know more about this can, of course, tell me why this is the way it is. I’d like to know.

You don’t need to look polished and great and perfect to be liked. You’re likable. Just relax ok? And Dallas Morning News, whatever your agenda is to bring Parkland down, stop wanting it to fail. The people there are working harder than you ever will and are actually trying to help people. I am proud that my daughter was born there. For all its faults, I do stand for parkland.

The reason I see these things is because I think you need someone else, an outsider, to lovingly but honestly tell you what is wrong. I find it hard to look at the UK and objectively see what is wrong. Please, look, listen and tell us. I do know we need to stop complaining, see the good things we have and although we are good at holding on to tradition and history, we should not let it define us today. But I love my place of birth, it is extraordinarily beautiful, wild, peaceful, sarcastic, silly, small, eccentric and full of wonderful people. There is nothing that a cup of tea and a piece of cake can’t fix. My adopted home, Scotland, and its people, are maybe the greatest  on earth. And I can love my homeland and my country but not be a nationalist. Brits, wasn’t the Olympics awesome? Remember? We can be like that all the time. My honest hope, is that you keep the United Kingdom united, and Great Britain great. You’re all bloody brilliant and I miss you heaps.

America – You are a magnificent, vast, complex, wonderful, smart, funny, innovative, loud, sometimes dumb country. But please, get your house in order before you go telling other peoples and countries what to do. You talk the loudest about spreading democracy and peace but you are warmongers. Other countries see your hypocrisy and they literally hate you for it. Believe me, coming from a nation that used to ‘own’ much more of this world than you do now, while you (sometimes) have good intentions, you will need to apologise in the end. Your political system seems so corrupt, you openly say that you are paying money to get things done with your advocacy and lobby groups in Washington. You say you are in debt, but you spend your wealth on your partisan bickering politics, and on your warmongering. As I am slowly learning, we need to live within our means.

I am neither democrat nor republican. I do not fit that easily in one of these categories. I think most Americans don’t either.

When your folks in Washington stop shouting and being rude and disrespectful to each other, I have actually got to hear both of your perspectives. And because I talked to someone who has a different view-point to me, I got to admit, I learnt something new! Now, this next thing is a really new thought for me. But, I don’t think I do agree with ‘Big Government’ either. (Though, don’t get me started on big business or those *ankers on Wall Street).

I think it is important, the majority of the time, to live and be governed locally. The people who live locally are without a doubt the people who know the needs of that community best, taking into account its particular population density, makeup, history, geography, trade, etc. I personally think most people first and foremost find it easier to identify with a smaller community. I think we traditionally gathered ourselves in villages for a reason.  For me, it was

  • Low Fell, a suburb of…
  • Gateshead. Which, because it was so close, was easier to say I’m from
  • Newcastle (yes, where the beer is from). Together we are the north-east of England, and we are ‘Geordies’ but that is quite a loose term. I personally have more in common with the
  • North including Scotland and Northern Ireland. But I’m still
  • English, and I’m also
  • British, but as I’ve been fortunate to travel a few places, I have found I have a lot in common with people on the other side of the
  • World.  And as my brilliant big brother used to write, in our books:
  • The Solar System
  • The Galaxy
  • The Universe

And I’m proud of being part of each one of those places (the universe part does blow my mind a bit). But, I’m best made to live and be governed in the small two-mile community that I now live in, in wonderful Dallas, Texas. But, there are things for which I’m grateful that there is a bigger authority over that smaller place. It makes it easier for a larger body to do the currency, the security (don’t go overboard though), transportation, research, maybe education, maybe health care and I few other things. Economies of scale and all that. There’s a lot more to say on that of course, anything on KERA and PBS is interesting and informative and has helped me to understand your politics. And of course, the wonderful and eccentric, but perhaps not always right, Fox News.

But you know what, I probably find it easier to listen to, and identify with the democrats. Because, and no-one likes to hear this, the republicans come across as such haters. I think some of you are the closest thing to Pharisees that we have today – you claim you are doing great things in the name of God, but you put laws in place that no one can keep because it’s impossible. You say you follow the teachings of Christ, but he wanted us to be humble, and to listen to others who had a different viewpoint, and we are told that the only true religion is to ‘look after the orphans and the widows’, not judge them, or make it harder by taking away what little they have.

When we  first came to this country just over  2 years ago, my husband – who is a citizen – and me – with a legal visa (if that’s important to you) – we had very little. Thanks to medicaid, which I could see people judging me as I said the word,  I was able to get free and low-cost healthcare for all the pregnancy care I needed. (It’s not the same in the UK, where most healthcare is free at the point of access and no, we are not communists or socialists). I gave birth to my baby daughter in a public hospital, my husband was given an emergency back surgery which saved him from absolute agony, and I was able to get help with postnatal depression.

I understand that many of you have lost trust in the government because you have seen your hard-earned money squandered away. And trust needs to be earned back. I’m ok paying taxes in your country (and paying a higher amount in my own as it happens) because I believe that I need to and it is the only way to get your fantastic country working again. In the UK as well, we do have some people who rely solely on the welfare state, and they have become lazy and selfish and expect that the world owes them something. In the UK, we (mostly) all pay a license fee for the BBC. They are by no means perfect, but I love the BBC. I think it is the world’s most unbiased, informative, thoughtful, interesting, entertaining media outlet there is, and I would gladly pay a license fee over here, because it is worth it. And although they will mess up with ‘my’money, I want to add my resources to help them to get better and keep doing what they’re doing whilst they are accountable to me.

I  agree with helping the poor – as I was – to help them get back on their feet, but I also believe the bible says if you don’t work you’ll starve. I am more than happy to work. I actually love working. I really do. But isn’t ‘the American Dream’ not about what wealth I can accumulate, but that we can have a more level playing field than our origins, race, ethnicity, gender,or  sexual orientation have traditionally given us credit for, and, with grace, and our ability, we work hard to make ourselves and our neighbours’ lives better? Not that we can have a new ipad or the 10th pair of new shoes. But, if someone comes to this country with very little, you give them help to get started, and once they are back on their feet, they are ready to work, and want to contribute fully to society, like we did and do. It’s going to take time, because we’ve all got in a lot of debt, but if we work hard we will fix it. No, I am not an idealist, this is reality as well and I’m living proof. So, please, I would love to effectively and quietly, talk and listen with those of you that have a different opinion to me. More importantly, I’d love to see those whom you have freely elected to govern you, to do that. You folks need to spend some time in my toddler’s MDO classroom and see how they resolve conflict. Or maybe you need to get yourselves a joint and have a pow wow and a good laugh whilst discussing some really serious and important issues.

Spidey knew that with great powers comes great responsibility. America, you have great power, and the world looks to you. Now use it responsibly.

Maybe you should get out your cars, and stop using so much of everything. Never mind what China or India does. They have their own issues. Education is important but not as important as wisdom. Teach people how to learn and they’re set for life. You do need to protect the vulnerable and poor, provide them with good health care and they won’t be such a burden to you. You make people work so hard, with so little rest. You overburden your pregnant women, and wonder why they are sick, and why they produce sick babies and why your children are growing up without morals and stability but you don’t help parents to look after them. Your insurance systems and health systems are a sham, with most of your health professionals worn out, especially in the public field. When I pay taxes, I will owe it back for the public services I used.

Your taxes are way too complicated. Tax season  seems to be just  about what you can get back in a rebate, rather than paying your fair share for what you used, if you want libraries and police and help when the hurricane comes. Just pay the right amount of tax in the first place? Another thing that you seemed to have complicated so that someone can make money. And if you happen to have been blessed with more than others, through your hard work or through inheritance, be thankful, and  humble, and maybe stop storing up your wealth in your storehouses, as you never know how long you’ve got. There are people in an apartment complex down the road who are hungry and hurting. Even if it was partly the choices they made to get them there, we are all sinners saved by grace.

You do not seem to respect those in authority and you do not seem to respect your elders, or sometimes, those that have fought in your name.  We are no different at home, and I think it’s kinda shameful. You elected a president to serve you now do your duty and respect him, as the bible says you should.

As I have finally started to do, you need to stop eating EVERYTHING. I know it is a sign of your wealth. But your diet and lifestyle is literally killing you. Eat simply, when you need to and look after the land and animals that are providing it. I know, I’m in Texas. Land of guns and meat and all that. That’s ok, as long as you use it all respectfully and responsibly.

And by the way, enough with the war guns on the streets and in the schools. The rest of the world looked on appalled and disgusted and you still talk about your right to bear arms. I believe your forefathers would be turning in their graves that you have twisted their words so that you can sell your guns while you let vulnerable people kill your children. It disgusts me to my core. Last week I had to walk away as my son’s school went into lock-down. If I had stayed, I think it would have alarmed the children even more. So, I walked away, knowing they were being taken care of, that the police were the best people to deal with it, and that it would be fine. But my heart was reminded, and cried for, those children and teachers in Newtown, and those parents whose grief lingers on until they are united with them again. Your children did not die in vain. And don’t get me started on the children that we  are killing with our drones and those displaced in Syria while we twiddle our thumbs. I don’t have the answer to that one, or Israel, or North Korea, or any of that, I just don’t know, but I do know that the innocent have suffered enough at the mercy of politics.

Now, my son’s school has an (armed) off duty police presence, to ‘reassure’ us parents. Quite frankly, I am neither reassured nor happy, but the school is great, and well, I live in Texas. But I do not think it is right, or ‘of God’, to live in fear, nor teach my children to do so. We need to address the root cause not the symptoms.

We are all responsible for the worst actions in our society. It is a painful question to ask, but if I had been in Nazi Germany in 1939, would I really have stood up for justice?  Most of the German people were not and are not evil, but they did not stop evil amongst themselves.

America, you have the ability to be a magnificent great, great nation, a true melting pot of peoples, the way it should be. I thought for a long time that I would never want to be a citizen of this country, but you have made me change my mind. (Being duel is ok right?)

 TBC….

Part. 1 INTRO: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

OK, where do I begin? This will be our last blog post, or should I say, posts. I’ve had to break it into 6 easier-to-digest chunks. I just started to write some thoughts and it turned into 11,000 words. If only that had happened at university.

So, I will say this only once (dodgy French accent), and then shut up.

This is my Jerry Maguire moment.

And enough of the social media, especially facebook, at least for now, I’ve got too much other stuff to do. Friends, if you want to get hold of me, please email, skype or call me, or better still, come see me.

I do and say all of this for a few reasons, but the main one is that there’s a lot of people talking. Sometimes that is a really good thing, as some people have never had a chance to talk. But unless it’s really important, I don’t want to add any more noise to our already too noisy world. I have found my peace. I stopped trying to do everything, and finally gave in – a ‘diving bell and the butterfly’ moment, Thelma and Louise jumping off the cliff. And I got caught. Yes, there is a God, He saves, He redeems, His Grace is huge and bigger than anything you can imagine. Jesus is His Son, and He died a horrific, painful, shameful death so that we can come back to our Father and rest in His love. I’ve called myself a Christian for over 15 years but have only just got this. It’s awesome, in the real sense of the world. And wonderful, and scary, and big. It’s how our life is meant to be, and not like The Office. It may sound crazy, but I am of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Anything by  C.S.Lewis says this much better  than I ever could.

So, I need to stop talking. And also telling people how to do things, or how great God is and just do what He tells me to do. When I am obedient, it is actually really fun and releasing and free from worry. There are people here and now who really, really need help, right now. Dallas is the place I am in for now, and it is full of hurting people, and they’re right here and I’ve been too busy worrying what you might think of me, or that I needed more money, or more stuff to help them.  I’ve been the Sadducee who walks to the other side of the road, and I’m sorry. I don’t need the stuff and I don’t want to clutter up your life either, but if I have it and you need it, my hope is to let go of it, and to give it to you.

I have been an angry Martha watching Mary for so long that I didn’t realise that all I had to do was sit at His feet and listen. His yoke is easy and his burden really is light. The transition for me to stop trying is hard, its like stopping a hurricane, and bringing forth new things is as painful as childbirth, but a new creation is evolving in me.

I have held my sweet daughter’s hand – her right hand – pretty much from the moment she was born. Now, despite all our efforts to try to get her to sleep with a ‘lovie’, a toy or a blanket like my son, she finds it hard to sleep with out holding my or my husband’s hand. And you can criticize me for my parenting style,  but I love it (and for a long time I put her needs before mine, which is our very normal and natural instinct mothers, but its wrong, you can’t love others if you can’t love and care for yourself). I love to hold her hand and have her close, as much as she loves it too. And she is able to do what I can not yet do but which I must learn from a babe – that you can sleep peacefully, when you know you are safe, and loved.

The opinions expressed here and in the next 5 posts, are my own, not God’s. If you want to find out what he says, ask Him. I am a deeply, deeply flawed human being, saved by grace. Grace is what makes the difference. I say none of this to offend, to hurt or to place blame (apart from the bit about the guns). But I also don’t ask for your approval for my opinion, gained through my experience,  my knowledge, my heart and my brain. But I do need to get it off my chest. It is a wee bit longer than I thought I was thinking, it turns out I have a lot to say, but  if you’re up for listening, get a cuppa and a creme egg and have a wee sit. (and i take no credit for any of the clips).

To be continued….

Family, the section below is from blog no 5, coming up. I wrote this 3 weeks ago. It becomes all the more poignant after the events of today, so just had to include it.

Please my dear father, do this one thing for me. Put as much effort into getting help for your bodily pain as you do worrying about it. As wise Merit says, you need to change your diet, start doing yoga and/or get a dog so that you can relax. Your health was the number one reason that I would have come home (and that I know you both miss your grandchildren so much) but I can’t make you take care of yourself, only you can. Do it quickly, because I love you more than pretty much anybody else on earth and I’m not ready to let you go.