After missing a week or two we are back doing the marriage course again now, moving through issues such as conflict resolution and forgiveness. It's actually proving to be both far more useful than we had thought when we started it, but also much more stretching. This week we move onto consider the exciting topic, "parents and in-laws". The homework starts the following day when my in-laws arrive from N.Ireland for a few days.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
The spreadshirt website is most entertaining. It allows you to design your own T-shirts online, they print them and you get them in the post a couple of days later.
The satrical possibilities seem almost limitless. I'm trying to think of suitable slogan's for all my freinds.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I had a great day out in Glasgow today, although getting there through the traffic seemed to take for hours. I met the artist formerly known as 'podge-alot', a leading member of lengendary Solihull five at Central station. It was great to have a few hours free with an old friend, and as neither of us had brought our kids we actually spoke to each other!
His father-in-law, (a full-time raconteur and part-time arhcitect) had recommended that we have a look at the Glasgow lighthouse a striking redevelopment of an old building with various exhibition spaces within it. Some of the exhibitions were just odd (either I have the conceptual-art part of my brain missing or the emperor has no clothes. I suspect the latter), others quite interesting, especially some of the architectural history stuff, as well as the obligatory cafe and gift shop. The best bit of it (that was almost worth the entry fee by itself) was the tower and viewing platform at the top, with huge views accross the city. Excellent stuff.
We'd been highly recommended to try a Mongolian restaurant in the merchant city, which was shut when we got there, so we settled for a pizza and chatted through the afternoon as the heavy rain lashed George square outside. We had originally planned to go hillwalking today, probably on Beinn Chabhair at Crianlarich. It's a good job we didn't, hundreds of roads in the hills we closed this afternoon due to flooding an high winds and the police we advising people not to travel!
Starbucks coffee is vile. Remind me never to try it again - even if they conveniently have an outlet in Borders books.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Little Doris has taken her first, albeit faltering, step. It wasn't elegant or graceful, and it didn't lead purposefully to a second or a third; nevertheless from such small beginnings... and it's one more than she's ever managed before!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Another foggy and grim-looking start to the week! The only nice thing about this photo is that it's the first one I've taken with my new phone. I got upgraded at the weekend - and this one not only has a reasonable camera in it, but also connects to the PC - enabling me to share the gloom with you.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
It's a generally attested fact that the rise of modern worship songs in churches has meant that Christians have ended up singing some really ropey lyrics. From sentimental schmaltz to heinous heresy - we've got 'em all! However, there are a few which I have sung recently which seem to be in a class of their own. In listing these turkey's I also offer you, gentle reader, the opportunity to post your nightmare lyric to see if we can find the very worst Christian lyric of all.
For starters there is the perennial favourite, "Jesus, we celebrate your victory". The offending lyric is "and in his presence our problems dissappear". This lyric is appalling because it means, if you got problems, guess what? you're not in the presence of God! If you have enjoyed something of God's presence, His guidance, His touch, His love - then it's all just a delusion, a self-induced pseudo-spiritual facade; if your problems remain. This is unbiblical hogwash of the first order; justifiably usually parodied as "and in his presence, our theology dissappears".
Next up we have the otherwise well-written "Shine Jesus Shine" a good song marred by its rather poor central lyric/title which seem to imply that the glory of God is mostly about how shiny He is. Now there is no doubt that God in His glory is absolutely dazzling to human eyes. However the glory of God is much more about his sheer significance than his mere luminosity. The 'mountains melt before Him' because of His absolute importance, or 'weight' and overwhelming presence - rather than his shiny-ness. It's not a disaster, but it misses the point and to outsiders sounds trite.
Finally we have a recent favourite lyrical disaster zone from Australia, where the song, "the power of your love" tells us that "the weaknesses I see in me, will be stripped away, by the power of your love". In 2Corinthians, the great apostle Paul, (weak, poor, harrased, blind, with thorn-in-flesh) wrote that our weaknesses are God-given. There is no indication in scripture that our inherent weaknesses will be stripped away at all - rather that they will be used to glorify God. The Bible often says that God gives His people strength, but that is completely different because the strength of God comes through reliance on Him and enables us to accomplish more that would be possible in and of ourselves; however we remain reliant because our weaknesses remain. Wasn't Jesus 'weak'? Didn't he sleep, cry, desire food, struggle to do God's will!? If we are in the business of being transformed into the image of Jesus, then we may achieve great things, but not necessary diminution of our weaknesses. Perhaps Adam in the garden wanted to eat the apple because he was fed-up being weak, being finite, being dependent and wanted to be like God in a wrong way. I hear this attitude reflected in the song that suggests that God is making us less weak. If only the author had written that God was at war with our "sins" rather than our "weaknesses" then I'd sing the line gratefully, joyfully and with expectation, because there is no doubt that God is at war with these! -
"Our weaknesses stripped away?" Give me strength!
Monday, October 16, 2006
I have just discovered that I may have "Viking Ancestry"! Today my old Dad has been to hospital to have an operation to correct Duputren's Contracture on his hands. Duputren's is apparently a thickening of tissue in the fascia on the hands which causes the fingers to be pulled in towards the palm. It is a genetically inherited problem and is treated by severing the thickenings, loosening the fingers. I have it on good authority (no, OK I read it on the internet!) that Duputren's is strongly associated with the Scandanavian gene pool and came to the British Isles courtesy of the Vikings.
As there is every chance I will develop Duputren's in later life - I'm off to buy the Viking helmet in preparation now.
Boris, Norris, Doris and I are just back from an almost-thousand-mile drive to London and back to visit my Grandma who is very ill in hospital down there. Three young children on my own for two full days of driving is no mean feat, and my complete repertoire of children's word-games, number-games, songs and jokes is now completely bankrupt.
Now back home, I am feeling tired and achy - but most of all just rather sad at the decline in my Grandma, which has been dramatic in the fortnight since we were last down. She has been one of the most important 'fixed points' in my universe ever since I was born, full of life, love, interest, laughter and conversation. It's quite distressing to see her so beleagured in the hospital, and not be able to do anything to help. From 500miles away, all we can do is to pray that she, along with family and friends might know God's peace.
For those who are interested in such things (there are some, I know!) this picture captures the seasonal rail treatment train which stops trains getting cancelled due to 'leaves on the line.' For those who think such things dull, comfort yourself with the thought that the surrounding view (of little more than mist) was somewhat worse.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Today, Norris has created a new word which threatens to enter the family vocabulary: "Ponckled". Apparently it means, damaged, broken, ruined and with bits falling off it.
It can be used like this: "Oh no! My train set is completely ponkled!
Or like this: "She's ponkled my train set".
Or like this even: "stop her, she's ponkling my train set".
Friday, October 06, 2006
Well, two weeks into the marriage course, things are progressing well. The course remains interesting, useful, challenging and informative. The suggestion made by Lord P of Mearns that it might just be a sustained excercise in 'SBO'* is not-sustained M'lud! There have obviously been several things we have considered before, but enough things that we haven't looked at - or things we've thought about but never put into practice; to make it all worth while.
One of the best things so far has been the suggestion that we regularly make time for each other, something we have neglected recently with all the demands of our huge number of children. So, last night we went out to the Nurjihan for a curry, and spent a great evening blethering and feeding. We have often talked about the value of making time like this - the marriage course is helping us actually put some of these things into practice.
This week's subject was, "the art of communication", next week moves on to "conflict resolution".
*stating the bleedin' obvious
This week we took Boris, Norris and Doris to the Science Museum in London. Not only is the museum brilliant, but most of it is free too! Its 7 huge floors are packed with inventions past and present, planes, trains, engines, ships, rockets, and the like - as well as all manner of interactive exhibits about things as diverse as the human senses and electricty generation.
The basement was always my favourite part as a child, as all the exhibits there are interactive. These days it is called the "launch-pad" and Boris and Norris could have spent a week there, pushing buttons, twiddling knobs, pulling handles etc etc. These manipulate a bewildering array of things such as archemedes (sp?) screws, hydo-electric generators, bubble-makers, railtracks, plasma-balls, the list is endless. The 3D cinema was fun and even little Doris (17 months) had a good go with the groovy 3D glasses required, where we watched film about African wildlife.
Time ran out and we had to head back out of London, realising that we had only managed to see a fraction of the whole thing. I didn't get to see the Brunel exhibition, and the wife didn't get to the history of medicine gallery. The kids are desperate to go back sometime, and considering that its free - I think we might manage it next time we're in London.
The only thing missing was the old van der Graff generator to make your hair stand on end. Probably another victim of the health and safety executive!
The wife and I took Boris, Norris and Doris to the "Great Cockrow Railway" this week - a place where I was frequently taken (and I loved) as a child. Unlike many other favourite childhood places which you remember being good but are in fact rubbish, or others which used to be good but have been turned into garish theme-parks; the GCR is probably better than it was when I was a kid.
Boris and Norris loved it anyway, while the wife and little Doris waved at us as we went past behind a little steam engine.
They've certainly extended the railway a lot over the years, and the rides have not just got longer but more interesting too. The new long hilly extension makes the little engines work hard, throwing clouds of smoke and steam up over the heads of the passengers. The tunnels are as long dark, dank and smoky as I remember them.
What's nice is that they've kept the quaint, whimsical atmosphere of the place which is still run by enthusiasts so their big extensions have not been at the expense of turning the place into a giant retail park. Even better Boris and Norris seemed as pleased with it all as I was.