Monday, 31 August 2015

Retirement

I've been teasing Mr.M all day about how this morning I woke up next to an OAP (yes, today is his 65th birthday.) He doesn't seem to mind as he is more fixated on how George Osborne is going to have to give him some money at the end of the month. On a more serious note, having a husband who is older than me has made me think about the future and my hope at the moment is that I may be able to give up work, or at least swap my current job for something less full on, in a few years time. I know that I really do have to stay in work for the time being (or try to) as we happen to be paying a son through university, but three years up the road it is possible that I might be in a position to at least change my working circumstances in order to enjoy a "retirement" or semi retirement with my husband.
As with any dream like this, you do need to think through the logistics, for example the effect on the work based pension I will receive in later life, before taking any decisions. You have to be realistic, yet at the same time there is more to life than money and sometimes you just have to follow your dreams.So think of me while I think and plan things out. Also spare a thought for the younger generation who at the moment seem to look like having a raw deal in terms of pensions, retirement age, students loans and less generous welfare support when they need it.I know I feel for and worry for my own children as they face a more onerous future than the one that I faced when I was their age.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Encouragement

I received an email this week from a student I taught a while back. She wanted me to know that she had been given an award for outstanding work from the college she is at and that the work she had produced had been inspired by a topic she had studied in my class while she was doing her A levels. She attached some samples of her work and I really did feel very proud of her- it is a funny thing but when a student achieves something you do feel a pride that is almost akin to seeing offspring succeed- perhaps because, though the achievement is wholly and rightly theirs, you feel you may have contributed to it even if only to some small extent. I was also very touched that this student had taken the time  to thank me and let me know how she was doing. It came at just the right time as, despite a really excellent set of results both from our whole college and our individual department, it is still easy to feel a bit weary at this time of year at the thought of a lot of intense work ahead.

We often forget the power of praise or  overlook the fact that there are people in our lives who might benefit enormously from encouragement.The bible says we build each other up through encouragement and it is true that praise can have the power to inspire us to go on and to continue to do as well or better than before. Positive feedback can help us to be the best we can be as well as to simply make us happy. Unfortunately sometimes those we could have the most positive impact upon through our kind words are often those whom we are most prepared to criticise or simply take for granted- such as our parents or our spouse. I am convinced we all have guilty moments on this score ( I know I do) and if we could just be more considerate we would all be happier! It is not always true either that Christians are any better at building each other up. I've heard plenty of criticism and carping in church, for example cliques or constant sniping at the vicar.
 This week I was encouraged and it made me resolve to try to say something kind and positive to someone every day. Maybe we should all give it a try.

Monday, 17 August 2015

A little friend


Over the last week or so we seem to have been adopted by this little white and tabby cat. She has no collar, seems thin but her coat is in good condition, so it is hard to know if she is a stray. She lets us stroke her but is too wary to allow us to put on the paper contact collar suggested on the RSPCA website. She is a sweet little thing but really we want a dog (in the fullness of time) and we don't think we can offer her a suitable home. I think I am going to try contacting the Cats Protection League as she has pretty  much taken up permanent residence in our garden.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Building up and breaking down

I've been reading recently about the case of Jeremy Timms, a lay reader who has been told by John Sentamu that his permission to officiate will be removed if he converts his civil partnership to  marriage, as he intends to do. Now in some ways this is no concern of mine as I am not a member of the Church of England, on the other hand it is as I know Jeremy and have stayed in his house in previous years when attending York synod. I am also a little surprised that Sentamu has reacted this way as, although the Church has always said it would withdraw PTO from clergy who converted civil partnerships to marriages, its official guidelines in 2014 made a distinction between clergy and lay discipline stating that, "Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community."It did make me wonder how you can welcome a couple and yet (presumably) make it clear to them they cannot be involved in lay ministry. I also wonder how welcomed anyone would feel seeing others treated in this way.

This story brought to mind for me the vote for gay marriage in Ireland where 62% of people voted "yes", an amazing result which led Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to say the church needed a "reality check" if it was to retain worshippers. I have no idea if the  Irish Catholic Church has formulated a more realistic view on subjects such as sexuality and contraception since then- personally I very much doubt it but I can't see that the Church of England is doing any better at the moment. It does all confirm what I felt in November 2012 after the failure of the women bishops vote. Even though this vote was later carried, this was largely due to the awareness of the disastrous consequences if it did not carry, not least that Parliament might take the step of removing the Church's exemption from equality legislation. It was also outrageous that it simply took so long for the Church's structures to be opened equally to both men and women; it really did all come too late.

Anyhow, as I say, I don't really know why I am concerning myself with this at all because it is none of my business and in any case I believe that God inhabits the secular world and the whole of life much more than a church or institution. We are told that, "the Lord God does not dwell in houses built by human hands". You cannot build a church with bricks but only through investing in people and values. I think the question the Church of England needs to ponder very closely at a time of rapid change might be what kind of a house they should build.