Sunday, 28 May 2017

On Being A Dangerous Woman

With thanks to my friend who shared a prayer on Facebook this week - it's by Lynne Hybels. She's a Pastor's Wife in the USA, and with her husband Bill Hybels, founded the Willow Creek Community Church. Bill wrote the brilliant little book 'Too busy not to pray' which is definitely worth reading [and rereading] Lynn is involved not just in her home church, but in wider 'compassion' ministries, especially those which help women in South Sudan, Iraq, Syria, and the DRC. 
Lynn has said this "A dangerous woman is alive! She knows she is deeply loved by God and grounds herself daily in that love. She delves deeply into the truth about who she is and claims her unique temperament, gifts, passions and dreams. She refuses to let fear stop her as she responds to God’s calling on her life. And out of her fully alive heart, she radically engages with the needs of the world.
I am convinced that women are the greatest untapped resource in the world. We have talents, skills, education, and financial resources that women didn’t dream of in the past. Beyond all this, we have the tremendous power of compassion. How different the world could be if we each responded compassionately to the needs of our sisters—whether they work at the desk next to us or live half way across the world."
Here's that prayer - it is one I would echo in my own heart this morning as I look out at this hurting world...
The Dangerous Women Creed
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.
May we be women who acknowledge our power to change,
and grow, and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep
and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us,
conviction compel us, 
and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women. Amen.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Happy Birthday Liz!

It's the birthday of my Firstborn today, where have the years gone? Sadly we are down in Dorset and they are up in Norfolk this weekend [and Rosie has just acquired her first pair of shoes!] But I have made Liz a suitably cycling themed card and trusting the Postman to deliver it on time...
We're very proud of both of our girls - they are so precious to us, and have brought so much joy into our lives. Today there are many mothers in Manchester, in Chibok, in Mindanao, and other places who are grieving for their girls. God be with them and comfort them.  
May I never take my girls for granted, may they always know the unconditional love I have for them.
Happy Birthday, Liz!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Polished Off

It occurred to me after yesterday's post that not everybody has a tin of Brasso lurking in their kitchen cupboard.
In my childhood, it seemed that everybody's Mum had a can of metal polish which was brought out regularly. 
Boys' Brigade Belt Badges, Brownie badges, Nurses' belt buckles, brass blazer buttons - all these garments needed frequent polishing.
And then there was the brass coal scuttle, the ornament made from an old WW1 shell which Grandad brought back from the trenches, ashtrays, Granny's silver teapot...all needed buffing up.My posh friend Dot had Duraglit- which was impregnated wadding - but we just used the liquid Brasso and a bit of Dad's old vest.
There was always something wanting some elbow grease to bring out the shine.

Do the younger generation ever use it? In these days of stainless steel cutlery and dishwashers, who wants to polish up a serving spoon?
In National Trust properties, I understand that there is an annual polishing of all the copper and brassware and then the rest of the year these items are just buffed up with a soft cloth. 
But Brasso has its uses even in the 21st Century home - some of them have very little to do with brass teatrays.
For instance, try these ideas [but carefully]
  • Brasso can be used to polish CDs, DVDs, screens, and pools in order to repair scratches. It is a mild solvent and an extremely fine abrasive, so when applied to the reflective surface of the disc and rubbed radially [in straight lines between the edge and centre], it can smooth scratches and reduce their effect.
  • Rub Brasso with a soft cloth onto Lego minifigures to remove markings.
  • Watch enthusiasts use it to polish scratches out of acrylic crystals on watches.
  • Brasso can be successfully used to take minor (white) heat marks out of French polished wooden surfaces. The fine abrasive cuts through the surface and allows the solvent into the wax and lacquer layer. The surface should be properly cleaned and waxed after this treatment.
  • Used gently, and in moderation, Brasso will restore Bakelite (Telephones, appliances etc.)
I love these wonderful old adverts. Use Brasso and make friends! Here are a few tips if you are using Brasso just as a regular metal polish 
  • if cleaning buttons or buckles on garments, then cut a slit in a piece of old card, and slide it under the button so that the surrounding fabric is covered, and doesn't get marked by the polish
  • a soft cloth is great - but for detailed work, an old toothbrush may be even better
  • Food utensils [serving spoons etc] should be well washed in hot soapy water after polishing to remove any polish residue, before they come into contact with food.
  • wear an apron, and gloves [Marigolds, or latex, or be like a traditional butler and wear soft cotton ones] These will protect your clothes and your hands.

Finally - if you have one small item needing polishing and you have no Brasso, then use 1 tablespoon of brown/HP sauce on a soft cloth. If the item is really tarnished, stir in 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda to make a paste. Rub in, polish off, and rinse well.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Study In Scarlet

It's rather hard to focus on blogging this week, with all the sadness and suffering in Manchester. My heart aches for all those mothers whose daughters will not be coming home again.
Very grateful that Steph [who is O negative] was able to go and donate blood in Manchester on Tuesday afternoon, and Liz gave in London yesterday [Rosie got a sticker!]

Life goes on- here in Ferndown they are repainting all our pillar boxes. A group of us were walking back from a Care Home Service last Friday when we met a guy painting a box just outside the old [closed] Post Office, which has just been sold. He said that he was painting the box, but it was due to be relocated somewhere else now the PO is out of use.
So I began checking the postboxes to see which ones had been given a fresh red coat. 
On Saturday I saw that one just round the corner was bright and shiny. On Monday morning I went out on my bike, and noted that the one on my route to church was dull and rusty - but when Bob and I returned to church in the evening for a meeting, it had been painted.
What a difference!
Also on my bike ride, which took me along the Castleman Trailway, I saw some lovely spring blossoms and fresh green foliage.
Unexpectedly there was a small honeysuckle bush growing in among the brambles. I plucked 3 flowers and brought them home.
Having just finished up a tin of Brasso, I decided this scarlet and blue container would make a very quirky flower vase.
I just love the retro sunburst design of the Brasso tin. It has been around since before WW1. During WW2 there was a metal shortage and Brasso briefly was in glass bottles. Now it is in tins again - but they have a red plastic 2-part screw cap. Once that's been removed, and it has been well washed, you have a cute container for a few blooms. 
Just as my heart was gladdened to see the beautiful blossoms growing amongst the brambles, so it has been great to see many good deeds shining out in the darkness this week. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Bible Bashing

I love this quote from Spurgeon. I have a Bible in the kitchen which is 35 years old - a gift from my parents, just before Liz was born. 
It is my 'go-to' Bible, the one I pick up when I am at home and want to look something up quickly. 
It lives in the kitchen because that's where Bob and I read it after breakfast [along with helpful notes from the Scripture Union]
But 35 years of daily use has taken its toll, and the cover is really worn and grubby. I decided I would do something about that.
The dull brown cover with its split spine, and frayed edges definitely needed dealing with. I had some cotton fabric in the Great Stash. It was from a bag of furnishing samples -fire resistant and Scotchgarded. I decided the latter quality would help it to resist stains!
I cut out a piece big enough for an overlap, and put a layer of PVA glue all over the fabric.
Then I wrapped it round, firmly, smoothed it all down, clipped the corners, and folded over an overlap of about 6mm. I pegged it all round to hold the edges firmly.
I also put thin plastic bags inside front and back covers, to protect the pages from sticking together. Bob suggested weighting it down with the flat-iron would be a good thing too.

The finished result is very satisfactory. This should last us for plenty more years of Bible Reading. Dylan Thomas talks about the sky being "Bible- black" - and for many, their Bible is a big black book. At her Coronation , the Queen was presented with a Bible, and these words were said "We present you with this book - the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God."
I quite like the idea of these lively Oracles being covered with cheerful blue floral fabric.The Queen's Coronation Bible was covered in bright red leather, with cream trim and gold tooling. Mind you, her Majesty's Bible is a rather large - a bit impractical to keep beside her cereal bowl in the mornings!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Adventures Of Grumble Bear

Two days after Bob found my Slop in a CS in Dereham, I found this book for 50p in a CS in Wymondham.
I was quite intrigued, especially when I found that inside the covers were diagrams for stitchery plus some correspondence from the book's owner [but that's another story] I decided I wanted to try my hand at smock making. I started investigating the subject. I discovered that Alice's little book is the one everybody refers to - and copies of it go for £50 in the USA [no, I'm not selling] 
Although smocks were seen being worn by shepherds in Sussex, Hertfordshire and Berkshire even in the 1970s, they've almost all been replaced by more modern garb on the farms. Some Morris Dancers wear them - and a few people recreate the old designs just for pleasure.
I had not realised that the embroidery on a smock often showed the occupation of the wearer - so the farmer at market, looking to hire workers, could see [without asking] whether they were woodmen, shepherds, gardeners, cowherds, milkmaids or gravediggers etc. I looked at the patterns, and read the instructions - smocks were made from a set of rectangles - some buttoned all the way down the front, some slipped over the head with a button at the neck, some were symmetrical, with a larger neckline, and could be worn either way round. 
The more I read, the more fascinated I became. I'd done smocking at school, and knew the basic principal; You make even gathers across a length of fabric and pull it up tightly, to make corrugated 'reeds'. Then you stitch on the top surface, making patterns with variations of three stitches [reed, basket or chevron] Once that is done, you snip and remove the gathering threads and are left with a piece of fabric which is elastic and stretches round curves and springs back into shape.
I'd made myself a top with a smocked panel in my teens, and did a smocked dress for Liz when she was a baby. 
A traditional smock has smocked panels on the front, back and cuffs, plus embroidery on the shoulders, collar, sleeves and "boxes" [these are the unsmocked panels on either side of the front and back smocking]
I realised it would take me forever to make one. I discovered that a company in Hampshire in the 80s took 4-6 weeks to complete bespoke smocks for people.
So I compromised- I decided that Grumble Bear should have a new outfit. GB was the bear my Mum bought for Steph when she was born. He had a very grumbly growl [sadly it stopped working years ago] I found a piece of linen in my stash, and using the book, I chose designs based on 'Dorset Woodman' [well it seemed appropriate] and made a tiny Dorset Button to finish it off at the neck.
He still looks disgruntled, despite his fancy new outfit! Yes it is a little bit short, but that's because I wanted it to look good when he is sitting down on the spare bed. I am not sure if I have the energy to make a proper full size smock - but I think I would like to develop the ideas of smocking, and the three embroidery stitches used in smocks [single feather a.k.a. blanket, chain and feather]
Here you can see details of front, back, shoulders, cuffs and boxes
I've got some small bits of linen in the Great Stash. Maybe I need to make yet another tea cosy...

Monday, 22 May 2017

Three Years Later...

One very wet, windy day in May 2014, five of us went on a prayer walk. It was so muddy, and the rain was relentless. But we were utterly determined to walk round the fields where the New Lubbesthorpe Development was due to be built. Back in 2006, Bob had a vision, for building a strong community in this place, and things were slowly starting to take shape. As we walked, we prayed - for the old houses which were going, the new ones being built, the people who would move in, and the development of a new community.At the end of my walk, I picked up a smooth white stone and brought it home.

I wrote the date on it, and kept it on my desk, to remind me to pray for the project.
One of the hardest things about moving away from Kirby Muxloe was leaving all that behind, and trusting God to bring other people forward to share the vision and see it through.
That walk was exactly three years ago - and now Sue Steer [a Baptist Rev] has been appointed as Community Worker - and she has recently taken welcome packs to the first few houses to be occupied.
God bless you, Sue, as you share the love of Jesus in Lubbesthorpe. I've still got the stone, and I am still praying for you- even though I live miles away now!