Church of England Diocese of Gloucester Cheltenham Emmanuel

Pat's page - A member of our congregation shares her personal thoughts on life this last week.

Hello and welcome to another lovely Wednesday morning, although if it is like last Wednesday it may change into being more like April showers this afternoon, along with a little sleet.

The change in the weather did not prevent us from going shoe shopping which I loved. At first, we could not find the shop as we turned left instead of right out of the car park. We obviously looked lost as a man came out of a building, we were about to pass for the second time, asked if he could help, which was very nice of him. It was quite a surprise to find we all knew one another having worshipped at the same church in Tewkesbury. After a catchup we went onto the shoe shop where we were served by a really helpful assistant who gave us good old fashioned individual service, nothing was too much trouble. We came away with three pairs of shoes, two we discovered to be in the sale when we came to pay, what a bonus!

When we returned home, we found we had a card bringing a lovely surprise. The stamps said European on them, so I thought my friend in France but no, the name and address on the back of the envelope was from Belgium from a contact I first made, 21 years ago. It was from a girl who was 7 when I first met her in Novi Sad Yugoslavia. It all came about because when we sent our first two Samaritan Christmas boxes, one of them went to Yugoslavia, now Serbia. The box went to a family with two small boys, parents had no English so this little girl’s mother translated our Christmas message, and wrote a reply on behalf of the family to say thank you. I still have contact with the boys, now young men, but this is the first time from this family. In the year 2000 I went with Oak Hall in Kent to Yugoslavia on a mission trip to take much needed supplies and to share the love of Jesus with people there. We were all staying in a small village just outside Novi Sad where the boys’ family lived. I arranged to stay with the family for three of the nights I was there. We communicated by made up signs, a lot of laughter and smiles and some friends calling in who had a little English. I met Isidora when I visited David’s class at school, sent small cards and gifts for her birthday and Christmas for some years, and it seems she has never forgotten. She has kept my cards, found my address and decided to write and say thank hoping it was still my address.

I have written back to her so we will wait and see if any more cards arrive.

We joined Emmanuel Together in the evening, but just before we went into small groups Rob’s laptop froze so it was a sudden exit.

Friday finds Rob still doing some planting in the garden with me a morning of housework. In the afternoon I started to look for verses and photos ready to use them each morning for Mental Health Awareness week, some you may have already seen them on the church Facebook page. Many of us have been in dark places during this last year due to the pandemic, with being in and out of various lock-downs, very little contact outside our homes, and for the children and young people the disruption of school and not being able to play with friends. We all have needed more than ever the love and hope that Jesus gives each one of us when we ask him. He is always there for us no matter what we are going through. I know it is not always easy to remember this when we feel we cannot escape from the places we find ourselves in. At times I have felt like I am in a glass box, being able to see out but not being able to get out. Not something I always cope with too well when it happens. I do try to remember verses to help me, but often my mind goes blank when I need it to remember them most, but a blank mind does not stop Jesus being in the box with me which is my comfort.

For us Saturday was a day of mostly rain so I decided to start sorting out the many boxes of photographs we have accumulated over the years and put them in some sort of order. Well, it is taking longer than I was hoping for because of course they all bring back memories that I sit and think about. Many of the photos are still all over the spare bed waiting for another wet day to continue with the sorting out.

On Sunday the sun came out, young people at church had their meeting sat on beanbags in the garden and after the service we all joined them in the garden to sing the last hymn. I did notice a lady who had been passing by stop on the other side of the road to listen to our singing, do hope she enjoyed listening as much as we enjoying singing.

It was hairdressers for me on Monday morning, my second visit since we opened after lock down this time. So lovely to feel I am doing something very normal. I never realised how much I took for granted until it was taken away from me, like my monthly visit to have my hair cut. I think many of us may look at things in a different light from now on. I do hope I will continue to value things more in the future and not take so much for granted.

Devon daughter video called yesterday afternoon and our grandson and granddaughter popped up for a chat, always lovely to see them. Later a friend called in the afternoon so another lovely long chat.

In the evening we watched Michael Portillo again, this time one of his visits was to Corinth, not only see the canal but to sail on it too. One of our cruise trips was called ' walking in Paul’s footsteps ' which took us to the same destination, but we could only look down on the canal. I felt overwhelmed by how deep it was and how steep and straight the rock walls were. We also walked along a road, not very long in length, that they say Paul would have also walked along going to and fro seeing various people and sharing the gospel with them.

Last week I wrote about our visit to Jerusalem, this week I am so sad at what is happening there. To see people running away from the wall in Jerusalem where we had quietly stood and prayed with hundreds of others, it was hard to take it in. Along with others my prayers go out to all of those caught up in this situation and pray God’s peace will reign in these places once again.

My photo is something very different this week as it is a snail, a small very determined snail who clung onto the sloping slides of our concrete, what I call a toadstool, until it reached the top of the side. Once there is just then walked around underneath the cap on the top. I like to think he knew he could not get over the edge to reach the very top because it was too thin a ledge for him to hold onto, silly I know. I had seen him about half way up from the kitchen window but by the time I had fetched my camera he was at the top. He may have been small but nothing slow about him.

We can all be like this snail determined to make and complete the journey or task on our own, then suddenly come to a spot where we can go no further. This is when we need the Lord to help us to get to the finishing line and complete whatever we had set out to do without asking him for help along the way.

Luke 1:37 reminds us that nothing is impossible with God. Luke 18:27 also says, what is impossible for man is possible with God.

Wonderful verses to remember.

Have a good week, continue to take care.