Sunday, 2 December 2018

First Sunday in Advent

Yay! 1st Sunday in Advent.

Here is Enya singing the haunting and yearning O Come O Come Emmanuel:



Israel longing for her Messiah to come. My favourite Advent hymn. An ancient hymn with its roots in 8th century monasteries when they prayed and sang the O Antiphons in preparation for Christmas.
Advent is about preparing for Christmas, yes, but it is deeper than that. We remember the 1st Advent, the baby in the manger, but we still yearn for the 2nd Advent, the coming of the Messiah to bring heaven to earth. And so Advent is traditionally not a time of great celebration, but one of expectant and longing hope. As it says in the very last paragraph of the Bible, Come Lord Jesus! Come.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

God sees you

God sees you. Always. Many of us may feel like a bit part in God’s story, but for God you are everything. God never neglects the individual for the big dream; Jesus the focus and instigator of the biggest plan in history always took time for the individual, the neglected and the forgotten. The parable of the Shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the 1 is how God works. It’s not that God doesn’t care about the 99, the parable is simply stating how God would give up everything for you as an individual; you are special and essential to Him and He cares about every little aspect of your life.

Many times in scripture we see how God cares for the side-lined and forgotten, even those who appear not to be the focal point of his promises.

GOD SEES YOU WHEN NO-ONE ELSE DOES

We read about El Roi the ‘God who sees me’ in the wonderful story of Abraham. Abraham is the father of Israel – along with Moses and David he is the most revered of the Patriarchs of Israel. Even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are very old God has promised a child to them that would be one of many descendants. But in their impatience to really get God’s promises moving Sarah says to Abraham, “Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her”. Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave, gets pregnant as was planned. But Sarah is jealous and mistreats her and Hagar runs away.

God hears Hagar’s distress and sends His angel to seek her out and he finds her near a river. He comforts Hagar and tells her to go back to Sarah.

God is your comforter.

The Angel of the Lord tells her to name her son “Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’)”, because “the Lord . . . heard [your] cry of distress” (Genesis 16:11). And so in her joy and relief she calls God El-roi, which means, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

God hears you and He sees you.

Hagar wasn’t part of God’s plan for Abraham, but God still cared for Hagar. God still heard her distress and sought her out. Figuratively speaking God left the 99 and sought out the 1.

Hagar is basically used and abused by Sarah and Abraham because they just couldn’t wait on God’s timing. Just as any time we try to push God’s plans through before their time, and certainly if we use people like disposable pawns to try to make it happen, it’s all going to go splat.

Hagar gives birth and then later at a very old age Sarah finally has a the miracle child – Isaac. However, there is much tension in the family and Sarah demands that Hagar and the boy be cast out into the desert. Poor Hagar, she’s just disposable to Sarah and Abraham is only worried about his son Ishmael. Hagar is just a bit-part, a blip, a mistake even.

But no-one to God is just a bit-part or a blip or a mistake.

Her water runs out and Hagar and her son are lost, alone, rejected and exposed in that hot desert - death was certain. God’s heart goes out to this rejected foreign slave – in that culture and community Hagar is a nobody but to God she is everything. He sends an angel to her, who provides food and water.

God sees the side-lined, the bit part, the ones who don’t appear to matter. Have you ever thought, “I never seem to figure in God’s big plans, what would it matter if I was taken out of the picture, who would care?” God cares and He will not push His plans through at your expense because each and every one is part of God’s plans. Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 – it’s the hidden parts of the Body of Christ that actually ought to be given more honour and the weakest parts which are indispensable.

WHEN OTHERS DON’T CARE ABOUT US GOD ALWAYS DOES

Jacob was a big player in the story of God’s people. The son of Isaac, he is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel! One of the great patriarchs of Israel.

In the story Jacob has been dispatched to Haran and his uncle Laban’s house in order to find a wife (and hide from his brother Esau). At a well Jacob meets Rachel and he falls in love. Laban makes Jacob work 7 years for Rachel’s hand in marriage, but after the 7 years Laban deceives Jacob and Jacob ends up marrying Leah, Rachel’s older, less attractive sister. Jacob is justifiably a bit miffed especially as he has to work another 7 years for Rachel (and God ensures in the end that Jacob ends up profiting for all this, but that’s another story). I want to talk about Leah.

Genesis 29:30,31 says, “…[Jacob] loved Rachel more than Leah…when the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

Leah was marginalised. Basically she wasn’t wanted and Jacob made sure she knew it. Rachel was everything to him and he could not see nor cared about the damage he was doing to Leah.

But God saw Leah. He saw the rejection and the hurt. Now, sadly, in that ancient time and culture, a woman’s ability to bear sons was what gave her value.

Leah did just that. She gave birth to a son and named him Reuben — which literally means, "Look, a son!" — because "the Lord has seen my misery” (Genesis 29:32b).

God gives you honour.

Leah says, "Surely my husband will love me now" (Genesis 29:32b). But that’s not what happens. Jacob does not see Leah, the person. It is as if she is invisible. Jacobs eyes are for another. But God sees Leah and she gives birth to another son. Leah said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too" (Genesis 29:33) and she names this son ‘Simeon’ which means ‘one who hears’.

God hears you.

God then answered Leah’s prayers with yet a third son causing her to desperately cry out: "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons" (Genesis 29:34). She named the baby Levi, from the Hebrew word for "cleave." Though Jacob had cleaved to her physically in their marriage, Leah wanted more than that; she wanted his love. And still there was no response from Jacob.

God will never leave you nor forsake you.

When God blessed her womb yet again, something happened inside Leah’s heart, maybe she came to terms that she was never going to be noticed by Jacob even as his most fruitful wife but realised that unlike Jacob God always saw and heard, "This time I will praise the LORD" (Genesis 29:35). When Leah named her fourth son Judah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for "praise”. Leah has turned her eyes from seeking love and affection from Jacob and turned to God. Judah is the tribe of David, and Jesus is of the tribe of Judah. Leah is part of Jesus' story - without Leah, no Jesus.

Jacob didn’t see or care about Leah’s misery, Jacob was only focussed on Rachel, Rachel was the goal of his affections and love. Jacob didn’t care of the cost emotionally to Leah. But God saw and heard, and God cared. God sees you.

GOD COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT YOUR MONEY, BUT HE SEES YOU

We now have two stories about rejected people and money. In ancient times land, livestock and sons were what gave people status. As time went on, money became the status symbol. But God has no interest or care about money, the whole earth is God’s – what God wants is a family. God can use money as a means to an end, but humans often use people as a means to gain money.

The first story is the well-known Widow’s Mite. I think this is the story with the biggest missed point in all of scripture. The story we make to be about money and sacrificial giving and it isn’t – it’s about her – the widow that nobody saw and nobody cared about.

Luke 20 Jesus said, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

So, these teachers of God’s Word publicly praying so beautifully, receiving honour from all the people, were behind the scenes taking widows’ livelihoods without offering a finger to help. Widows in those days and in that culture could end up destitute – without a husband or sons they had no means of gaining regular income. This is why our loving God protected them in the law. God commanded that along with the priests (who had no land or income), the poor, the foreigner, the widows and the fatherless were to receive tithes from those who had land and produce. The Temple, as the place representing God on the earth, was to protect and provide. But instead, the teachers of the law were coercing money from the poor for the temple, when it should have been the temple giving money to the poor.

Jesus simply says, “You’re so impressed with the big donations. But this poor widow gave all she had to live on. Can you not see her? You see the money but not the ruination of a poor woman? This poor widow is now going to go without food and without a house”.

When Jesus points her out to the disciples they completely miss the point – “But look, Lord, see how beautiful the temple is!” In other words, but see what splendour these gifts have created! However, as Stephen said Acts 7 “The Most High does not live in houses made by men”. My temple is people, God says in scripture, not this pile of stones – this is a mere shadow of the wonder that is to come, my church made of living stones - people!

And so Jesus replies, “The time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down”.

This woman’s life was ruined for a pile of stones.

So the point is not money or sacrificial giving, the point of the story is don’t overlook the person because it is the child of God which matters the most – and Jesus saw her and it broke his heart and made Him angry – “These men will be punished most severely”.

Which brings us to Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector. Taking money from the people of Israel and giving it to the enemy occupier made Jewish tax collectors the most hated people in the land.

I bet he didn’t have any friends – not real ones any way – probably some creepy hangers-on using him for his money. Nobody cared about what was going on in Zacchaeus’ heart or life because he was horrid and he deserved misery.

But the God who sees, saw the person. Little Zacchaeus. Little wicked, corrupt, selfish Zacchaeus, and God’s heart went out to him.

Jesus looks up at little Zacchaeus, sitting in the tree and says – ‘Zacchaeus I’m coming to your house’ – if we’d been there, no doubt we’d have thought, ‘Surely there are more needy people than Zacchaeus?’ This horrid little man, defrauding God’s people of money and giving it to the enemy occupier? Why is Jesus harsh on the teachers of the law but not the tax collectors?

To illustrate this kind of question Jesus tells a story in Luke 18: 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tithe of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The teachers of the law did it in God’s name and swanned around pretending they were the spiritual bees-knees when they were wicked, the tax collectors deep down knew they were.

Zacchaeus’ response to this simple act of love, TOTAL LIFE CHANGE, all because Jesus saw through that corrupt little man and saw HIM. Not his money. Not his mistakes. Saw him. A little bit of love changes more lives than rejection and marginalisation and hatred. And Zacchaeus changed instantly – big style.

God sees you, you might be rejected or forgotten or misused like Leah, Hagar, and the widow, and be powerless to change your situation; you might even be rejected because you pretty much deserve it like Zacchaeus! But God sees you and He hears you. God has seen your life. He has seen the hurt that you carry. He has seen you overlooked. He has seen you railroaded because someone has some big picture dream to pursue and you’re just getting in the way. He has seen you used and discarded for someone else’s dream. God’s heart is for you.

But let us also look outside of ourselves. Let us be like God, like Jesus, let us take the time to see and hear. To not forget about the marginalised outside of the church - absolutely not God wants to draw everyone into His family. But also to not forget about the marginalised inside of church - Leah, the Widow and Zacchaeus were Israelites, they may not all have been godly people but they were part of God’s chosen people and God seeks out the lost. Hagar may not have been born into the chosen people of God, but as a foreigner under the protection of God’s family she ought to have been drawn deeper into the family and blessed, not rejected.

When we, now as Christians, look into each other’s eyes we are looking into the face of Jesus, because He lives in each one of us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13

And again

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

It’s about people. God will take care of the plans, let us take care of people.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Blog maintenance

I'm doing a little blog maintenance. I haven't blogged consistently for quite a while. Posts may disappear, posts may reappear. Just doing a little tidying up. I will note on re-posted posts when they were originally written ('cos for some reason when I repost a post it sometimes maintains its original posting date, and then other times it doesn't). TTFN
My guardian 'angel' (aka Boots the Crazy)

Rhythm of life

I remember my children, when they were little, learning to ballroom dance. I remember their tiny feet clad in the pretty silver shoes. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. When they danced they’d stare at their feet, counting – 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. So focused on the steps that they would often end up out of time with the music. Their teacher would lift their heads and refocus them, then they could follow the rhythm and flow of the music.

If we solely and introspectively focus on what we are doing, if we obsess about getting every step 'right', our eyes drop from God’s grace and love down to the minutiae of our actions.  We end up out of step with the beautiful music of the universe.  We lose who we are. We forget to just be...

Phil Wickham puts it:

"It's falling from the clouds
A strange and lovely sound
I hear it in the thunder and rain
It's ringing in the skies
Like cannons in the night
The music of the universe plays...

"Beautiful and free
Song of Galaxies
It's reaching far beyond the milky way
Lets join in with the sound
C'mon let's sing it loud
As the music of the universe plays..."

Self-awareness can be helpful, but obsessive introspection causes us to lose focus on the Person of peace - Jesus - our lives feel discordant and jarring, and we deafen ourselves to the gentle whisper of God.

Friday, 26 February 2016

On Leadership

We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours. 2 Cor 1:24

Lording it over someone.  Micro-management.  Creating clones of yourself.  That isn't the way of Jesus.  You ought to be who you were created to be...and everything on the journey to that point.

It makes me think of the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-24:

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,’c and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ ”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Transformation is God's business...no-one elses'. [is 'elses'' a word? - bah to the rules of grammar]

"I'm the boss! I'm the boss!", insecurity causes us to shout this, to drive people to conform to our view of how they OUGHT to be and if they don't listen we get well-miffed!  Jesus was righteous and filled with all wisdom and yet he doesn't use any motivational techniques, He doesn't use flattery or promises, He doesn't try to coerce, cajole or demand that the young man comply, nor does he chase after him with threats or promises when the man walks away.  Jesus leaves it in the hands of God.  Which is funny in a way, because Jesus is God, and so He could have quite easily zapped that man there and then with some kind of mind-control influence thing. But He didn't, because Jesus did it the right way...always.  So He is therefore always our example of how to deal with a thing.

If most of us are honest with ourselves, what Jesus did was very hard.  When we speak our words of advice it is very difficult when people just ignore them, disagree with them or walk away from us unchanged. But Jesus wasn't a busy-body.  I am guilty of this though.  I think I see a problem, I believe I have the solution (with scriptures to back it up of course!! *smug*) and get gosh-darned annoyed if no-one seems interested! Ha, but that's where humility, gentleness and trusting God comes in.  And Jesus had all those in spades (Matt 11:29).

The disciples learned a few hard lessons along the way.  Thinking amusedly of James and John wanting to call down fire down on a village because the people there wouldn't receive Jesus, "Reject you Lord?  Nuke them all!" - and getting a rebuke from Jesus, "That's not the way we do it lads". Then them wanting to be top-dogs amongst the disciples and getting a gentle admonition from Jesus followed by an amazing teaching on true godly leadership. (Matthew tells us in ch. 20 that they got their mum to ask hahhahahaha - awesome...beware of church people wanting to 'big up' their kids in the church LOL).  Anyway....it is clear that after the cross and the baptism of the Holy Spirit they followed Jesus' example of leadership.

We can see it in Acts 1:1-7 :


In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Firstly, here we have the Twelve working as a group, it seems that the general rule of New Testament leadership is one of group work, not some top-down hierarchy.

Secondly, the Twelve ask the church to decide.  They don't decide.  They don't say, "Make some suggestions and we'll think about it." They trust the Holy Spirit to guide the church - because, durrr, everyone who belongs to Christ has the Spirit of Christ (if they truly belong to Him).  They live out the truth from 1 Tim 2:5: "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus".

Thirdly, once the church has decided, the Twelve lay hands, bless them and leave them to get on with it.  They don't micromanage.

And you know what, the church grew!  That's what happens when you leave the Holy Spirit to guide, change lives, bring wisdom...you know, all the stuff our tiny brains can't cope with when left to ourselves.  Because funnily enough, the Holy Spirit sees the big picture.

So, to sum up, we can see that a godly leader
  • Will not make him/herself 'in charge' of your faith;
  • Will work with you;
  • Will speak the truth and trust God to change your heart;
  • Will not cajole, flatter or pressure you into anything;
  • Will trust you and the wider church to listen to the Holy Spirit and make decisions;
  • Will let them get on with it - i.e. not micromanage;
  • Will not lord it over people; 
  • Will lead by example.
  • Will [and this is important] recognise that he/she is not perfect, does not know all things and might be misunderstanding the situation. Humility and love are essential.
There are a whole host of other things I could write about leadership, but this is just what I was thinking about today.  It's easy to write about, harder to live out.  But by the grace of God we all walk.  Leaders make mistakes, we all do.  But leaders can also damage lives and even destroy churches.  It's a tricky position to be in.  That's why when we have even a tiny bit of influence over someone's life we need to follow Jesus' example.

I'll leave you with these scriptures:

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." Mark 10:42-44

"For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Matt 23:12

"not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Pet 5:3 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

I'm half sick of shadows...but Advent brings light.

and when that which is perfect may come, then that which [is] in part shall become useless...for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known; 1 Cor 13:10,12 (YLT)


And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
              Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
               Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
              Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
              The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
              And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
              The Lady of Shalott.

~The Lady of Shalott, Tennyson

Ah this poem.  I've quoted this bit before.  But it just resonates. Bong! Like a rumbly gong in my soul. Such poetic simile...ahem...

We see things as in a mirror darkly.  We see things as in polished metal - the type of mirror Paul would have known - we can see forms, we can see movement, but we don't see the whole picture, and in a mirror it's basically back to front.

Every so often I come back to this realisation.  That, despite my need for definition, for clarity, for absolute, I am merely seeing a shadow.  Jesus is so beautiful, so wonderful, and yet what I know and see is but a dim reflection.  I long to know him as he knows me.  But yet I have to wait.  Until then we weave our tapestry, we paint our pictures of what God is like, but they aren't clear and they aren't perfect.  We are still waiting for the perfect, our Saviour.

Jesus isn't like Lancelot who inadvertently leads the poor Lady of Shalott into a curse. Instead his Advent brings joy and blessing. He isn't a trick, something to lure us into error, into a curse.  No.  To look upon him is the ultimate of all heavenly manna.

This is the good news, when we turn and look upon him, our salvation! When we see him and his full gaze falls upon us.

Advent is this hope.  It is the hope of the blessing of the Numbers benediction, I quote here from the Book of Common Prayer:  

The Lord bless us, and keep us; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us, and give us peace, now and for evermore. Amen

'Lift up the light of his countenance' - there's something about it that really makes me breathe, like a breath of fresh air, an intake of life, the desperate inward breath of a woman who thought she was drowning.  Life.  When you're swirling under a mass of stuff, he lifts up his countenance...and I can breathe.

That's what Advent it.  It's the hope of life to come.  It's the hope...the joy set before me of seeing HIM face-to-face.  Nothing obscuring my vision. Like those creatures in heaven who are covered in eyes, they really SEE him, every part of them from the top of their heads to the tip of their toes SEE him.  Inside and out, back and front, up and down, they see him as he really is.  That's life.  That's the beatific vision of wonder that awaits us.

When we see him as he really is, then all is well.

Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Poo covered cats and memory issues

I'll tell you about the poo covered cat in a minute.  But first my memory issues.  I noticed via email notification that I'd got a comment from the lovely Pom Pom on my Happy Homemaker post.  I logged in through my mobile phone and scrolled through the post to get to my comments.  It was there that I saw it,
"I am soaking some beans and lentils for a homemade soup though."
Oh cr*p, I said to hubster, my soup!  Yep, I'd forgotten. There they were, still soaking in the bowl, two days later.

I do not exaggerate when I say cooking isn't my thing.  Oh, I do try to cook decent meals for my family, but I just have some kind of brain 'off' switch when it comes to cooking.

I have sat in my living room and idly said, "What's that hissing noise?"  With the sudden realisation that I am cooking sausages!  If the smoke alarm goes off the family all shout, "Tea's* ready!" And they think that they are hilarious. Herumph.

[*Tea - northern English term for evening meal (as well as the leafy beverage)]

I have burned three lots of cheese-on-toast in a row, even setting fire to one set when I've sat staring at it under the grill, only to go off into a daydream and being brought-to by the smoke.

It's either that or I forget to defrost the meat.  So I'll decide in the morning that we will have say, a chicken curry.  Forget to take the meat out of the freezer and have to ring Gary on his way home from work to pick up something from the shop.  In fact Gary is so used to this that if I do ring him on the way home from work he immediately says, "What have you forgotten to take out of the freezer?"

And don't get me started on baking...

So, don't tell me to start a meal plan...because I forget to look at the plan...don't tell me to put reminders on my phone...because I see the reminder, look away from it and STILL FORGET!  What is that all about?

Poo covered cat...

Onto the delightful story of our poo covered cat in a moment, but first a bit of back-story.

So, our cat is possessed.

We got her from a cat rescue place in a nearby town in 2006.  She was so friendly and that's why we chose her, she came to us rubbing up, etc.  Her sister was also in the rescue shelter, so we offered to take her too because we didn't want to split them up.  I should have discerned a potential problem when the nice shelter lady said violently, "NO!...ahem...no, they don't get on".  I should have thought, "These two cats have such issues that even an overcrowded shelter won't release them together".

Anyway, we got her home and put her in the kitchen to get her used to one room before introducing her to the rest of the house.  And she disappeared.

She disappeared for 3 days!  Just vanished.  I had floor boards up and everything.  Tins of tuna left here there and everywhere.

When on the the third day I found her [it obviously has deep theological spiritual significance that I found her on the the this day], I pulled a plinth off the bottom of a cupboard that was next to our tall fridge-freezer and I saw a foot.  Yes, for three days she had been wedged upside down behind the fridge-freezer - back legs and tail pointing to the ceiling, forelegs and head stretched to the floor.

And she hadn't even meowed once.

She did finally settle in and we discovered two things:

1) She will snuggle down on your knee, purr, enjoy being fussed, then this wild look will take over her and she'll attack you for no reason.  (It was after she attacked my Bible that I asked Gary to get a priest in.  He thought I was going over the top, but I'm not sure. Ha.)

2) Then the fighting started.  Her paw was against every paw in the neighbourhood.  Her ears are a mess of scars.  Her back legs have been ripped open twice.

Remember I said I chose her because she was so friendly, rubbing up against me at the cat shelter?  When the vet saw her his first words were, "This cat is very territorial".  The rubbing is not friendliness, it's Boots saying, "This is mine. This is mine.  This is mine.  This is mine.  All this is mine. DON'T TOUCH".

When we moved house we hoped she'd settle down.

But no.

We've had another ripped back leg followed by hideous infection.  A split tongue.  I opened the curtains the other day to see blood splattered all up the window.  The window cleaner spent the following morning surreptitiously looking for bodies in the back garden...haha I jest, I jest.

It's always at night.  My new neighbours regularly see me running around the street in my jammies yelling, "Get inside you stupid cat!" and then chasing other people's cats up the road hissing like a maniac.

We've tried to make her a house cat, but she goes literally insane trying to get outside.  We've tried a Feliway plugin that supposedly gives off happy-cat smells - it failed.  She'd been prescribed cat-valium - failed.

An aside:  Boots has just appeared on the windowsill staring at Gary and he has just made a rude gesture at her.  I do so love her despite it all. Ha.

So, Tuesday night, Gazza and I were just settling down for the night, it was about midnight and we hear it. YOWLOWLWOWOOWOWOWYOWLEEEEMEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!! And the sound of the bins in the back garden being knocked over.

So I run outside in my jammies - and I'm wearing my old jammies that have shrunk in the wash so that the trousers flap at half-mast between ankle and knee - calling quietly because I don't want the neighbours looking at me: "Boooooots!  Bootssssssss!"  Then Boots suddenly careers past me wildly followed by a stripey cat, which I chase off up the street hissing at it like a wild woman.

Boots has gone into the back garden and is sat on the outside kitchen windowsill looking at me.

I pick her up with "You bad cat, what's wrong with you".  I get inside and I smell it.

Poo.

In the light I see it.  She is covered head to tail in poo -  with blood gently dripping from her ear for dramatic effect.

What is this?  Some kind of cat self-defence reaction?  Like an octopus squirts ink, is she now squirting poo at her enemies?

What do I do?  If I put her down she'll run off into the house trailing cat-poo everywhere.

"GARY!"

Right now I don't care if she fights every single cat in the neighbourhood and keeps us awake til two.  I am not letting a wild-eyed poo-covered cat in my house.  So, I check that her ear is OK, it is - just a tiny scratch - and Gary opens the door again and I deposit her unceremoniously outside.

I think I need to burn those jammies.