Back to the real world…

After a lovely 4-day weekend, it’s time to go back to work.  Funnily enough, I’ve not really felt the weekend blues as much.  I think I needed the long break from work to gain perspective about things (that and to catch up on my ironing!).  I’m not dreading the early wake up call to get ready for an hour-long commute on the lovely Greater Anglia trains to get to my desk.

I’m thankful for the break, thankful that I’ve had time to reflect about my faith, come to terms with it and what I have to do to continue to nurture it, how to reconnect with that side of my personality and how to accept that everything that happens to me is something that isn’t part of what MY plan is.  My plans may or may not coincide with what God’s plans are for me.  Short of singing “Jesus take the wheel” at the top of my lungs, I am easing myself into the idea of surrendering to a higher power.  Because when I allow God to take control, it is His plan that I am following and not my own wilful heart.

I am thankful for the blessing that is Easter.  I am thankful for the rest it affords my body.  I am thankful for the rest it affords my brain (I wasn’t, at all, tempted to do anything work related – mind you, do and think about work are two different things!).  I am thankful for the rest that it has afforded my spirit and the chance to be alone with my thoughts about God, my faith and the way my life should reflect my beliefs.  I am thankful in the knowledge that I am an Easter person (because I am resurrected and I am renewed).

I am also thankful for the treats that have nourished my body (and to be honest, my spirit as well!).  Have you found all your Easter eggs?

Easter thoughts

Easter brings a 4-day weekend with Bank Holiday Friday (aka Good Friday when I lived in Manila) and Easter Monday (which, thank you God, is also a bank holiday!).  Easter also brings a lot of chocolate and it’s been a tradition at the firm that I work in for the shareholders of the firm to give us Easter eggs before the office closes for the long weekend.  Easter also brings a time for me to rest.  I’ve not been a 100% per cent for a while, so I am thankful for the statutory time off!

Easter was quite different for me when I lived in the Philippines.  If you didn’t already know, the Philippines is a predominantly Christian country, where approximately 86% of the population are Roman Catholic (I belong to the 2% of the population, I think, who are protestant – I am a proud card-carrying Methodist!).  So Easter is a big thing in the Philippines – almost as big as Christmas.  But I think, whilst Christmas is a celebration of blessings (both spiritual and fiscal), Easter is more solemn…more devotional.

The country begins it’s slow down on Palm Sunday and all but shuts down in the afternoon of Holy Wednesday.  The proceedings begin on Maundy Tuesday, the evening when the ritual of the Last Supper is celebrated and everyone goes into a collective retrospective, spiritually contemplative and prayerful mood.  When I was younger, before the introduction of the mainstream cable TV subscription, local TV stations would cease their usual telecasts and it would only be “religious” films on TV (mostly about the last days of Christ, and Father Peyton TV specials).  Children weren’t allowed to play and we were all told to be quiet when we did laugh out loud.

When I started participating in my local church activities, the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday were very busy.  There were choir practices for the services that would be held for the evening of the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday evening) where we would have the ceremonial washing of the feet, the Last Supper and the service would end by the congregation stripping the altar of all its adornments in preparation for the afternoon service during Good Friday.  On Good Friday, there is a service in church where the focus of reflection is Jesus’ seven last statements whilst he was crucified on the cross.  I have been privileged to offer a reflection before.  There is a lot of hymn singing and the whole week is prayerful.

On Easter Sunday, most of the Catholic population celebrate Christ’s resurrection in an early morning (usually at around 4 or 5AM) ritual called Salubong (sah-loo-bong).  It is, most probably, the imagined reenactment of Jesus and Mary’s first meeting after Jesus has risen from the dead.  I’ve always known the Methodists (and other protestant congregations) to have an ecumenical (all are welcome) Easter sunrise service that usually starts at 5AM.  There is much singing and celebrating and then we all go back to our local churches to have our Easter Sunday services.  There is more celebrating via a church lunch following the requisite Easter egg hunt for the children.

Fairview Park United Methodist Church – photo credit: Matt de Guzman

The season of Lent is slightly different for me these days.  Since moving to the UK, because I’ve never really properly attached myself to a church, I don’t have the same Christian fellowship during these times.  I don’t have a choir to practice songs with, or a service to attend, during most times.  I know I should try to find a church, to regularly attend a Sunday service, to find Christian fellowship.  I find that whilst Easter still means a lot to me, because it represents the day Christ offered Himself to die for my sins, the day I became free from the shackles of death, it has become less contemplative.

I find that the life I live is more socially secular and more personally spiritual.  But I think that because of this lack of Christian fellowship, something is missing in my life.  I miss talking to people about my faith.  I miss sharing how little things in my life represent God’s goodness.  I miss talking about the instantness of God’s answers to my prayers.  I miss talking about how blessed I am to have certain people in my life because they represent God’s unconditional and illimitable love for me.  I miss talking about how amazing it is when I see God’s hand in the turn of events in my life.

While I lament the lack of opportunity to shout my faith from the mountaintops, I am also thankful for this personal stillness in my life.  I am reminded of the time when, in church, our youth group decided to focus on the internal spiritual growth of the church youth.  We decided that we needed to establish our fellowship first, before reaching out to other churches.  Because we felt the need for the bonds to be strengthened internally first before we reached out.  I think my move to the UK symbolised that as well.  Because after years of serving in church, after years of sharing myself, I needed to look inwardly and reassess my faith.  I needed to tend to my own relationship with my God and my Saviour Jesus Christ.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never felt removed from God, there wasn’t a sense that I wasn’t connected to God.  It was just I was letting Him do all the carrying (I don’t think He minded, but I know He would have loved it if I reached out to Him and carried my end of the yoke).  It is a relationship I have with my God.

I mean, ultimately, it is a commensalist relationship we have with our God.  Because whilst God can be without me (I am thankful that God loves me, and that this has never been a factor in His great plans for me), I am completely nothing without Him.  I benefit because I am with Him.  I am blessed because I am with Him.  Life would be a lot less if I existed without Him.

But I want to continue building my relationship with my God.  I stopped for a while.  I focused on myself but wanting to establish myself without His guidance is an exercise in futility.  Having my own way is what He has given us, we are free to make our own choices.  But ultimately, if we are not guided by Him and if we do not surrender to His will, we might as well walk our life journeys in circles.  When you do not have your internal compass you won’t get to where you need to go.

God has been waiting for me to properly come back, to pay attention to my relationship with Him.  He has been a constant presence in my life, in the people He has put in my life to remind me that I’ve not been walking the walk.  I am truly thankful that we have these Christian rituals during the year.  Because they serve as good reminders – of God’s love for us, and our responsibilities to Him.

Prayer for concentration at work

I have always wanted to write more about my faith and my feelings.  Because if you can’t be yourself and say what you want on your blog, where else can you (provided that what you post isn’t illegal or offensive to other people’s civil liberties – I’d like to say it’s exercising responsible freedom of speech!) be?

I saw a comment on one of my old blogs, talking about how a prayer that I posted about concentration at work helped them (they were looking for a prayer for concentration and apparently my prayer was easily modified for purpose).

I thought I’d share it with y’all because I know that it was something I came across as well and that I modified according to what I needed.  I’m hoping that it helps someone who comes across this blog post too!  In this world of instants, there are so many distractions.  Sometimes it helps to just close one’s eyes and focus and draw into oneself and centre oneself by praying.

I hope this helps!

Dear Father,

I draw near You to seek Your help.  I have the assurance that You love me so very much. Lord, the Scripture says that You love the prosperity of Your children.  You know the importance of being able to concentrate at work.  Father, bless me with Your guidance and let me work on my things to do list properly.  Lord, I confess that I get distracted easily; I have more interest in less important things instead of what is urgent in my in-tray.

Please forgive me and gird me with You grace (I love the word gird Lord, because it makes me feel like I am going to battle, and oh I do love a battle!  See Lord, I am digressing, yet again!) and strength so that I concentrate in my work.  Without Your help I cannot achieve any success Lord!

Please help me to overcome all my weaknesses and strengthen my mind. Take full control of my wandering thoughts and give me Your wisdom and knowledge. Let me shine at work, Heavenly Father and let me be a blessing to to everyone. I lift all this up in Jesus’ name.  

Amen.

After the hiatus…?

How many times have I taken a blogging sabbatical?  It happens all the time.  I allow the real world and work to take control of my life and the things that make me happy take a back seat.

Well, if I intend to be the boss of me eventually, if I intend to be responsible for my own time, then I need to take control of things don’t I?  Besides, whilst paying for my own domain name isn’t exactly breaking the bank (thank you WordPress for making this financially accessible!  You guys absolutely rock!), there must be some sort of return of investment!

So I am back in the land of the blogging!

Watch this space…again!

Oh and PS, thanks for sticking with me!  Mucho appreciated!❤️

I get why they made moats!

I’m trying to avoid filling this particular blog post with clichés.  Because I’ve always tried to treat people with kindness.  But, sometimes, following the Golden Rule is a lonely path.  Because not everyone shares or understands your journey (if you do follow the Golden Rule, that is).  In these modern times, most people are selfish and they are out to look out for only themselves, because in this day and age, everyone jockeys for position, wanting to be first, wanting to be in pole position.

Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that treating everyone with kindness is not always the right thing to do.  Because some people don’t deserve the kindness.  Some people will take what’s freely offered without thought of giving back.

But that’s okay.  Things have a way of coming back.  Karma is a lovely equaliser.  I see the wisdom of burning bridges.  There was a reason why people built moats around their castles!

Not-so-magic mushrooms

On Thursday night, we planned to have bacon and mushroom sandwiches for supper.  I was excited because it was going to be an easy supper, plus for those of you who know me, I absolutely love mushrooms.  Alan bought a huge box of mushrooms the night before in preparation.  At £1.40 for a large box, it was, I thought, a steal.  By Thursday afternoon, I was already smelling the mushrooms cooking in butter!

Little did I know that we had bought more than we bargained for.  There I was, happily slicing these lovely chestnut mushrooms, planning my meal prep and looking at the next mushroom I was going to slice when I spied something really strange in the box.  I took the mushrooms one at a time and was horrified to find a lightweight knife in the bottom of my mushroom box!

Knife in box

I’m in a conversation with Asda Customer Services via DM on Twitter at the moment.  One the one hand, I am glad that I was the one who found the knife and it wasn’t child who dipped their hand into the box whilst helping prepare their supper.  The possible accidents are too scary to consider!  Apart from the cutter found in my mushroom box, there seems to be a fragment of blue-coloured hard plastic in the bottom of the box as well!  Curiouser and curiouser eh?

I’ve been asked though to send the packaging and “foreign” object back to the Asda Product Quality Team in Leeds.  But I’m not too sure about that.  Are you actually allowed to send stuff like this in the post?  I’m also curious as to what happens after I send the item back to Asda.  Do I get a reply?  An update of what happens after they’ve investigated?  Will they recall all that batch of mushrooms?  I know it’s something I should worry about but it just makes you wonder if anyone else has found knives or cutters in their mushroom boxes or is this an isolated incident?

A lucky escape

My Chinese New Year celebration was punctuated with brilliant pictures and a massively stupendous fall (accentuated with the vision of stars brought on by that glorious bang on the head!).

I am glad to say that my body is recovering from the fall quite well and the head is seemingly clear from any sort of concussion (or any other ill effects from it hitting the wall).  The only sign of my obvious minor disaster is the bruised elbow.  My outer arm has a relatively benign-looking bruise but when you look at my inner elbow there is a humdinger of a bruise!

humdinger of a bruise

I’ve had a lucky escape though because despite the circumstances, I still think I managed to emerge from that accident relatively unscathed…battered ego, notwithstanding.

The bruise is now turning to varying shades of green and yellow so I know that I am healing quite well.

Thank goodness!