Tender mercies

Dear friends
This past weekend has seen some miracles in my life, not large scale like parting the Red Sea but equally meaningful to me and I know the hand of the Lord was involved.  A prophet (Thomas S. Monson) has said:

The Lord is in the detail of our lives

I truly believe that and these are the details where I saw Him in my life the past few days.  I encourage you to look out for the Lord and the Holy Ghost at work in your life – Father is always there.

1. Finding matches: Some weeks ago we noticed the match box (we use them for lighting the gas cooker) was low. They were on the shopping list but last week when we went shopping we couldn’t find them in the household goods section. None. This wasn’t critical until this weekend but my dear husband still didn’t buy them.  Yesterday, Sunday we used the last few and I checked with dear husband that he still had a lighter (he’d bought them to light to cooker but I find them difficult to use without lighting my thumb!) So early this morning, resigned to using a lighter, I went to my husband’s desk to find one. As I dug around the top drawer, lo and behold!, I find a small box of safety matches!! 🙂

2. The conference talk: last Sunday, after sacrament meetwith as I was getting the classroom ready, for the youth Sunday School class that I teach, I was asked to give a 10-15 minute talk on the Saturday evening session of stake conference, in 6 days.  (For those of you who are not LDS, this is a large local area meeting for the church, the Saturday evening for all adults, so typically around 200 people in attendance).  The presiding area seventy had made some changes to the proposed programme and asked me to speak.  No topic – I was to be inspired, like general conference (from Salt Lake City, for everyone #LDSconf).  I looked at him and said “Me?” I was a little incredulous but was assured that this is what the Lord wants.  So last week I prepared a talk, completing it in the early hours of Saturday morning, the theme being who are we and what is our relationship with God and each other.  I timed it, 11m 30s, and practised reading it a few times.  When I was asked to sit on the stand, beside another speaker (who said she’d received her assignment some weeks ago, with a verse of scripture to base it on), I still has no idea when I was speaking or the other topics.  As the meeting began, I peered forward to check the programme held by the stake president.  I saw my name, after the intermediate hymn and right before the visiting seventy.  I was the penultimate speaker, eeekk!!  I did, however, feel a great calm as each speaker spoke. And by the time the stake president had finished, I knew that the talk I had prepared was in fact the perfect summary of the previous three – right down to the stake president using a phrase which I had written.  It was one of the most sublime experiences that I’ve had and I am humbled to know that the Lord knew that I had the personal views and experience that would meet the stake’s needs for that meeting. (I’ll post my talk separately).

3. My tablet – I have a Samsung 10.1inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablet and since a little after Easter it has not charged, at all.  I had bought some new cables, left it charging, returned from work, and nothing.  The children were interrogated. I’ve never understood the full story – “Son1 killed it” “Daur2 switched it off!” “I didn’t touch it!” You know how it goes!  I took the back off, back on, left it to rest, tried again but nothing. So, I reluctantly decided to take it to a fixer shop at the end of this month (payday!), dreading how much I’d be charged.  This morning, as I was about to go to work, I thought, let me try again, and I set it to charge.  I’ve already learnt to be patient with devices… seconds later, the screen lit up with the battery symbol, charging!!  Yeah!!! 🙂

PS – when I told our daughters about the tablet charging again, they gave each other a knowing glance and Daur2, we thought it might – maybe Heavenly Father took it away so it wasn’t a distraction while you were writing your talk!!

slow down…

Dear friends
I’m trying to slow down.  But since this post has taken a week to write and publish, you can see I’m not succeeding!! 
A couple of incidents have made me realise that I should take more time to smell flowers, so to speak.

I went to the women’s conference last Saturday when in one workshop, on entering, we were invited to select a name after reading:

Jesus is coming to your home in one hour. Who are you?

With little hesitation I selected Martha, deep down I know I’m not really Mary and I figured, in a self righteous manner, “most people will choose Mary and I’m different.”  As the workshop continued, and two women portrayed Martha and Mary with reference to scriptures from the Bible, I felt myself drawn into those times, and I could relate to Martha perfectly. I knew I would want everything to be perfect for my Visitor.  I do the same now, if His representatives visit, His missionaries, our home teachers, my visiting teachers, so how much more would I do it if He visited. Even though I would stop when the door knocked, I imagine my first words might be, “I’m sorry everything isn’t ready.” Rather than, “Welcome, I’m ready!”
During the workshop there were discussions on multi tasking, using time wisely, preparing, and I went to other workshops where following the Holy Ghost was encouraged. The overwhelming sense I had was to slow down, that was my message.

I returned home. On seeing the school uniforms not washed and my dear family in a rather relaxed state (my dear husband had taken the children to a science fair), I poured the laundry into a bag and announced I was going to the launderette and would pick up Son1 from work on the way back.  Dear husband intercepted my path with some words on knowing your limits and that he’d already assigned the uniforms to the children to wash by hand – “it’ll do them good!”  So, after assessing the children’s nutritional needs – we’re not hungry (owing to a big, late, lunch of hot dogs and chips which I caught the end of), we don’t need any food before bed – I took myself to bed!

This slowing down is not consistent and is certainly difficult.  This last week, I forgot my lunch once having made sure everyone had theirs, went to London for training (traveling to and from London during rush hour is never ‘slow’) and barely crossed anything off my work to do list.  I am trying hard not to run faster than I have strength and there have been some relaxing moments – treating myself to some catch up episodes of The Good Wife but I did fall asleep during those!!
I don’t really have a game plan, except to try keep a balance…. that may need more naps – I fell asleep after church this past Sunday 🙂 … it may mean simpler meals… and it definitely means involving and trusting the Lord with my priorities!

out of touch… today’s music

Dear friends

While preparing lunch yesterday, I heard Daur2 humming/ singing:

La, la, da, da,…
Father, Father, Father help us
La, la,… guidance from above
La, la, la, la…
Where is the love…

Me: Is that a church song?  There are lots of LDS youth music tracks produced each year.
Daur2: (laughing) No! It’s Black Eyed Peas, Where is the love – but I don’t know all the words.  I’ll find the lyrics for you.
Later… in the evening…
Me: What was that song by Red Hot Chili Peppers?
Daur2: (laughing even harder) Black Eyed Peas!!

Having read the full lyrics,  I’m looking forward to hearing the song!!  🙂

thoughts on racism et al

Dear friends

The first time I became aware of a potentially racist action towards me – at least that’s the way I perceived it and still recall it – it was my first day at full time school. I was nearly 5 years and with a summer birthday it meant I started in the summer term – the older children would have started at the beginning of the school year,  the previous September.   I went to the toilets; someone else let off gas (to put it politely) and I heard all the other children blame it on me. I sat in that cubicle and cried.

At secondary school I faced it again – the older children (boys & girls) called me Kissi – Alex Haley’s Roots was on TV and I wore my hair in plaits.  This time I faced up to them –

My name is not Kissi

They stopped the name calling and, even as they hung around the school gates smoking, they greeted me by name, Vanessa.

The events of the last several weeks – Sousse, Charleston et al – have led me to think, maybe there are more people who are racist out there than we think?  Why do they feel that way?  Maybe I work with someone who would not ever speak with a black person given a choice?  Maybe, seeing me, in my role as a woman, a black woman, really winds them up? Should I trust anyone?

I personally feel that ignorance lies behind any type of discrimination – I’m sure many people feel the same.  When I dwell on questions like those above,  I don’t feel right.  1. I’m not going to live my life in fear – that doesn’t mean I’m going out looking for trouble.  And 2. I want to love my fellow beings  – we are all part of the human race and that’s enough for me.

I really don’t know how people feel the way they do. I’ve heard and read things like: “the only good white man is a dead one.” And I’ve no doubt there are equally hurtful phrases about negroes.

“Show me your tail” is what my mother heard when she came here in the 1960’s – and that was from work colleagues genuinely asking her and her friends. How ridiculous!  How awful!  How stupid and ignorant!!

Where’s the love?  It’s largely gone.  It’s the 21st century,  we have incredible communication technology. So is there really an excuse for ignorance?  

There is no doubt in my mind that these are the last days spoken of long ago by prophets of old, even Jesus (see Matthew 24 verse 12):

the love of many shall wax cold

And so we do live in a time where guns and ammunition exist, where they can be obtained, and where innocent people can be killed while worshipping or while lying on a beach,  simply because of the colour of their skin.

I do have a hope – it will come to an end one day. Not through military strikes, but through a Man who will return to Earth.  Meanwhile,  I will continue to treat every as my fellow brothers and sisters and not be bothered if they can’t see past my beautiful brown skin and black curly hair 😉

an observation on phones

It’s hard to remember the good ole days, last century, before ubiquitous mobile telephones. 

When you had to find a coin and a  call box to phone if you were out.
When you could ride a bus, or a train, without feeling obliged to say where you are or how long you’ll be.
When you didn’t expect to be contacted at work, unless in the case of an emergency.

It seemed time was a little kinder back then, less intense.  We still lived; life was full; life was fun.

There was time for yourself, rather than being obliged or expected to be contactable at all times, by voice or by the written note, aka txt msg.
There was no anguish of missed calls, cracked screens, low battery, lost contacts, ringtones drifting through the air, and that’s before the smartphone features are considered.

Oh, 1990s!! Come back!!!

welcome to the I generation!

Dear friends

First there was the modem. Remember the dial up, the fuzzy line sound, the ‘bings’ as it connected… brings back fond memories…  Phone or email? Browsing, what was that?

Then there was the broadband cable connection – the direct link between a computer and the world.  It was all so simple. Email, Skype, browsing but oh, the size of the phone bill!!

Then the dongle – who invented that name? – great but we needed more

Then, the mifi, our own mini WiFi, 15GB per month, surely that would do? And it did suffice for 5 years or so until 2.5 teenagers and 3 tablets later, it kept running out after just 10 days.

So now, the fibre optics, the wireless, tablets, phones, laptops, security, parental controls, it’s come, it’s here, it’s working, it is the unlimited home wireless broadband network with speeds that mean no buffering!

I’m aware that the next big thing in terms of technology is already in use by the military, somewhere. But right now, our family is very excited and grateful for unlimited home Internet access!! Yeah!! 🙂 🙂

“Uptown Funk”

Dear friends,
What is this music phenomenon?
This evening my dear husband called me from the kitchen to hear our dear children “serenade” him with this song (Mark Robson ft. Bruno Mars)!! I still can’t work out how our youngest (son), at seven years old knows the lyrics – they play it at school in dance club!
I first heard this song on the radio a few months back when our eldest son stated:

It’s from this century!

or words to that effect, to which I thought, oh, very clever!  I have no idea what the lyrics are, I can only pick up some words when I hear the children sing them.  I’m sure there’s something not good about it and our eldest son has said there’s at least one swear word and he didn’t think it would be played at the dance at the church youth convention in the summer.  Mmmm…

And it continues on, both Obama’s on YT singing, dancing, and then our youngest daughter found this… Alex Boye cover version. Alex used to be in London when we first got married so we know him a little – he’s LDS, so we noted how ‘liquor’ became ‘cool aid’ (forgive me if I’ve spelt that wrong).  So, I expect that this piece of music will continue for a long time.

We’re now wondering how many of the wards (church units) will use it in the road shows later this year!!  And this is where we need to make good, better and best choices! I’m not going to say to behave all self righteous and say I won’t listen to it because I like the tune, I like to dance, I’ve not heard the Lord’s name in vain, and, quite frankly, I have no idea what the lyrics mean.  However, I’m not silly – I’ve never been able to listen to Ricky Martin’s La Vida Loca once our Primary Music Leader picked apart the lyrics for the children to see and learn one Sunday in music time many years ago! – so I will endeavour to discover the meaning of the lyrics, if there’s any, and if I discover it’s all about dodgy stuff – drugs, being unchaste etc – then I will have to explain to the children why they shouldn’t really embrace it!! I’ve got to do it!!