A Twinkle in His Eye?

‘They came again to Jerusalem, and as [Jesus] was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders came to him, and they began saying to him, “By what authority do you do these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John—was it from heaven, or from men? Answer me.”

They reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we should say, ‘From heaven;’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ If we should say, ‘From men’”—they feared the people, for all held John to really be a prophet. They answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said to them, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”’

Mark 11:27-33 (WEB)

These people kept on and on and on bugging Jesus, trying to trip Him up so they could find something to knock Him down with (a bit like the tabloids nowadays?). They never did find anything. Jesus always, always responded with truth, mercy, compassion, wisdom, knowledge and, I like to think, a little bit of humour. Take the above, for example, I like to imagine a twinkle in the eye with that final sentence, not quite a wink, but a definite glimmer of humour, perhaps a raised eyebrow and a wry smile; kindly, funny, stern, honest, authoritative – all at once.

I’m continuing listening to the Librivox free (public domain) recording of the New Testament, read by ordinary volunteers. I’ve listened all the way through the Gospel of Matthew, and am now in the middle of Mark. Listening has brought about whole new levels of awareness of the oh-so-familiar text. I’m particularly struck by the way Jesus is described during His time of ministry (if that is what one can call it): He was relentless.

Dear Lord

Make me more like You.

Amen

EMDR: From my Comfort Box

Two Many!

‘…a child I once knew, who – having been carefully instructed that one of any earthly thing was enough for any little girl; and that to ask for two buns,  two oranges, two of anything, would certainly bring upon her the awful charge of being “greedy” – was found one morning sitting up in bed, solemnly regarding her two little naked feet, and murmuring to herself, softly and penitently, “deedy!”‘

from The Nursery Alice, Preface to the 1890 edition by Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland as drawn by Lewis Carroll

A Day in the Life of a Proverbs 31 Husband

Another reblog!

This made me chuckle thinking of what my husband might write about me. I’m the epitome of the long lost Proverbs 47 woman. The rest of Proverbs got stuck down the back of the sofa along with three polo mints and a lottery scratchcard, so people haven’t generally heard of it. Also, of course, there’s the Proverbs 48 man: ‘A husband of goodly manners, who can find? He putteth down the toilet seat and cleaneth out the sink after shaving…’

I don’t know why but I’m reminded of a telephone conversation I had with my mother several years ago. I may have shared this story before. Where I come from ‘pastor’ is pronounced the same as ‘pasta’. Also, most church leaders are not ‘pastor’ but vicar or minister, etc. ‘Pastor’ is quite unusual. So when I said I had an appointment with the pastor my mother thought I was joking about my lunch, laughed, and told me she’d just had a sandwich. I didn’t know why she was talking about sandwiches all of a sudden, but it was clear she was more than a little worried when I said I was going to talk to the ‘pasta’…

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

Hey Pal!

I know I’ve owed you an email for a while. Sorry about not staying in touch, but life here has been crazy. Just as a for instance, here’s what yesterday was like for me.

9:00 – Got out of bed. I woke up earlier but my wife told me to sleep in because she had everything covered. I have so much confidence in her I just had to roll over and go back to sleep.

9:05 – She brought me breakfast all the way from the kitchen on the other side of the house. And this house is HUGE. I mean, I don’t mean to boast but with the money she brings home from her flax and wool factory she insisted I should enjoy the lifestyle she can afford to give me.

10:00 – I headed to the city park to brag about my wife. Seriously, those other…

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Hurrah for Horrible Histories!

I’ve had a little girl off school this past week with a nasty tummy bug. For the last few days, to keep her active little brain occupied, Chip has been watching videos on DVD and youtube (with supervision, I hasten to add). One of the gems of British children’s television has to be Horrible Histories (I confess it is not just a source of knowledge for kids), and one of the best bits of Horrible Histories has to be the Kings and Queens of England song. Chip and I are still learning the words but perhaps you’ll do better:

What the…?

In my wisdom I decided to go through the bible again from beginning to end, only this time I am listening to it rather than reading it. I find I have a different perspective when I listen. Within the first hour I noticed several really weird things and I thought it was about time someone dedicated some small part of the blogosphere to these strange stories. Before I begin, let me say I am no theologian, although I’m married to someone who studied theology to degree level and is annoyingly well-read in the subject. I’m just someone who reads/listens to the bible and spends time thinking about God and taking an interest in His word.

Some of these passages are just bizarre. I can only think their true meaning has become obscured by the mists of time and culture. Other passages are worthy of an eyebrow-bending look of puzzlement, and some are outright hilarious (admittedly I find things funny when other people don’t – it is perhaps a survival mechanism; I see it is a God-given gift to be able to see the funny side). My aim is to compile and consider some of the passages of the bible (over time and with no particular intent) that, for example, The Jesus Storybook Bible*** leaves out. These are the strange, otherworldly, oddly-placed passages that you’ve probably never heard in a sermon (feel free to tell me if you have; I’d be intrigued).

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Genesis

I love the story of God bringing all the animals to Adam so he could name them, it reminds me of a daddy playing with his child and taking delight in him. I love how God sees that Adam is lonely and makes him a wife while Adam sleeps – that has to be one of the sweetest stories in the whole bible. Often we overlook this sweetness and focus only on the Fall. I think that’s a shame. There is something precious and wonderful about the relationship between God and Man before the Fall.

There’s also this strange sentence in Genesis that is definitely one for the ‘lost in the mists of time’ compartment.

‘In those days, and even later, there were giants on the earth who were descendants of human women and the heavenly beings. They were the great heroes and famous men of long ago.’

Genesis 6:4 (GNT)

Giants? Heavenly beings?

Anyway… today I’m writing about someone very familiar: Noah. Everyone knows the story of how Noah was the only man who listened to God, and all the other people were horrible and self-obsessed and grasping and wicked so God decided to put everyone but Noah and his family out of their misery, so to speak. But few are familiar with the rest of Noah’s story. This happens later, long enough for Noah to have planted a vineyard and made wine from the grapes so, at a guess, several years after the flood. Noah drinks the wine and gets completely and utterly – er – sloshed. In fact, he’s so steaming drunk that he takes all his clothes off and passes out in his tent. It all sounds remarkably like Glastonbury. Definitely not like New Wine.

So Noah’s lying naked in his tent when his son, Ham, walks in – they weren’t Kosher yet <ahem>. Maybe he was checking on his father. Maybe he was having a giggle at his dad’s expense. We don’t know and the text doesn’t say. Either way, he goes back out and tells his two brothers, Shem and Japheth, who between them gingerly make their way backwards into the tent (to avoid seeing their p****d, naked father) and cover Noah up with a robe. Let’s face it, the children’s storybook character of a jolly little man with a smiley face and a long grey beard, somewhat like Santa Claus but with an ark instead of a sleigh, is completely gone at this point. Or is it just me?

To top it off, when Noah wakes up the next morning it reads as if his hangover got the better of him. He curses Ham’s son, Canaan, saying vile things and ordering that his grandson be a slave to both of his uncles.

Is it just me or does the story of Noah and his sons seem like an episode of EastEnders?

*** I love the Jesus Storybook Bible.

EMDR: Laughter, the Best Medicine

When I am low, not many things make sense. Music can be helpful, especially positive songs and praise music, but laughter is, as the old saying goes, the best of medicines. I find I need to keep away from anything negative at the moment (because my head has enough already), and instead try to put into practice the words of St. Paul:

Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.

Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.

Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips)

Our family love Mr. Bean. He appeals across the ages and across the autism spectrum too, which is good because ASD children often don’t understand humour. Prince enjoys Mr. Bean, as does little Chip, and they both often find comedy… er… elusive. The number of times we’ve had conversations beginning “Mummy, is this a joke?” followed by something which is less a joke and more a random statement! And then they’ll try again with a hundred more random statements. No wonder poor Fluff rolls her eyes. Her big brother and little sister’s ‘jokes’ are funny for all the wrong reasons o_O But I’d not change a hair on any of their bonny heads and I am thankful for my family, and for Mr. Bean!

EMDR 5: Deja Vu – Haven’t We Been Here Before?

I had my second EMDR session two days ago. It knocked me sideways again, but it’s supposed to. Here we go again. I’m sure I’ve been here before… No wonder I ended up with PTSD.

At many times in the past I’ve managed to keep going by laughing. Adrian Plass’ books saw me through some tough times, radio comedies Just a Minute, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and The News Quiz have given me something to laugh at when I couldn’t do much else, and my Red Dwarf DVDs have made me smile more times than I can count. I’ve no idea why this is what works for me, but it does. At least, it stops me from climbing into the cupboard and pretending the world doesn’t exist. I can’t do that anyway; I have a family to take care of. I’m glad of that, too, because there have been so many times when, if it weren’t for the children, I’d have given up altogether :-/

Children truly are a gift from God, even when they’re being ‘orrible! They make the world a better place. If adults learned how to be more like children, and more able to laugh at themselves, maybe there wouldn’t be so much anger and sadness in the world.

Our family share meals together at the table every day. Frank and I believe it’s a very important part of family life. Lately at the dinner table the children have been exploring what makes a joke a joke. This is not as simple as it sounds. Prince has autism and Chip may have Asperger’s – we’re trying to get a diagnosis. They’ve both been attempting to extrapolate the components of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ and ‘Knock, Knock’ jokes. This is taking some time because their literal minds just don’t ‘get’ the idea of double-meaning, without which these simple jokes don’t function. I’m not sure you can extrapolate humour… Yesterday our fish pie dinner led to some fishy humour (pun intended).

Fluff: “Why don’t haddock eaters go to church?”

Me: “I don’t know. Why don’t haddock eaters go to church?”

Fluff: “Because they don’t believe in cod!”

Prince smiled, recognising that this was an attempt at humour. He decided to join in.

Prince: “Why don’t cod eaters go to church?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Prince (with an enormous grin): “Because they don’t believe in salmon!”

He then went through the same thing with a variety of fish, at which point Fluff and I couldn’t help laughing. Prince knew the jokes weren’t funny, but he also knew he was making us laugh, so he carried on. Chip decided to join in.

Chip: “Mummy, is this a joke? Doctor, doctor, I keep getting a headache!”

<pause>

Me: “Go on then – doctor, doctor, I keep getting a headache!”

Chip: “Then go and eat some fish!”

Fluff and I completely collapsed into giggles. I love my kids. They are a real blessing. Laughter is balm for the soul.

Something else that has been keeping my humour meter topped up (and hence helping me not to completely crack up with the bombardment of memories following the EMDR):

Not to be confused with Lambada

Probability and statistics can get a little dry (according to some people – personally, I don’t see it, I find it fascinating). Today I have learned a new symbol, lambda:

The lower-case Greek letter ‘lambda’

In probability theory lambda, in the words of wikipedia, ‘represents the density of occurrences within a time interval, as modeled by the Poisson distribution.’

The page helpfully instructs ‘Not to be confused with lambada‘. At once I was imagining brown corduroy-clad male Maths teachers whipping their mustard-yellow ties above their heads in time to raunchy Latin rhythms, with a feisty lady teacher (because the female science and Maths teachers were always rather lively) standing at the side launching haddock at the whirling dervishes and shouting “Poisson distribution! Poisson distribution!” with each fishy missile.

This mad image had me in fits of giggles. I seem to have been alone in my mirth, however. Much like Sheldon. Frank just raised his eyebrows. He’s a very placid fellow. That’s why we complement one another so well.

********

I start EMDR in earnest next week. From what I understand, it’s like going through the trauma all over again, only this time the brain processes it all properly, so that it doesn’t keep leaping out at you like ghosts from the past that you have no control over. I have to make a ‘comfort box’ filled with things that help me feel ok. I think humour is definitely going in that box, one way or another.

Teaching Your Child about Jesus: What Not to Do…

We were running very late on Friday with dinner because we were making homemade scone base pizzas and we didn’t even start until we’d got back from the pool. The pool doesn’t open until half five and Prince* was soooooo slow getting changed afterwards that by the time we got home it was seven o’clock. Little Chip was still eating when I decided to go ahead and begin lighting the candles on the advent wreath and reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Conveniently, the advent wreath was in situ in the dining room.

“Today’s reading is,” I began, and then I looked at my daughter, who was pushing food around her plate making a face instead of eating it. I gave her ‘the look’ and she stopped. I cleared my throat.

“Today’s reading is…” She started it again. “Chip, eat your pizza!”

I suddenly realised what I had said and we all collapsed into giggles.

*Yes, we actually now have a young man who will get in the pool, ‘swim’ a little and get himself showered and changed afterwards. This is nothing short of a miracle!