Over at A Cowboy's Wife's blog, I volunteered for a meme, which involved asking for a letter. I got the letter "P" and now I'm to list 10 things I LOVE that begin with the letter assigned. Since Him Indoors is in Norn Iron (as the Northern Irish pronounce it) for the weekend and I've already had the girls sit through "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and made them sing along, I need something to distract me. (That's a lie - I never need any help to be distracted).
In no Particular order, and resisting the urge to use "Participating in..." before lots of non-p words, here goes.
1) I love Prisoners. Love isn't always a feeling. It's an act of the will. But the feeling comes along behind. I don't love what they've done. Some of their attitudes annoy me intensely. But I love them because I've chosen to do so, and I believe God has (a) asked me to do that and (b) enabled me to do that. I love them so much that quite often my secret reaction when they come, all excited, to tell me they are getting their parole is, "Oh no!"... I also love the Prison staff, even though I'm pretty sure some of them think I am an unnecessary expense and a waste of space. As I get to know them I begin to find I'm involved in the Pastoral care of some of them, though.
2) I love Pavement cafes in Paris, where we went on holiday in October. It was our first foreign holiday as a family and we loved seeing the sights, and experiencing the culture, so different from our own and yet not so very far from the UK. Now that we're getting into dreich Scottish winter days, I find myself revisiting the place in my head quite a lot these days.
3) I love Potter, Harry Potter. I know they're not really aimed at my age group but I love these books. I wish I could write like that - not just because I'd be mega-rich (!) but because I love how she creates a whole fantasy world. For example, it amuses me that I could describe to you the rules of quidditch and only remember half way through doing so that it isn't in fact real. Some Christians (mostly those who haven't read them) think the books are bad because they are about witchcraft. I find them to be about love, about being noble and heroic, about perseverance, and about self-sacrifice.
4) I love my very shabby Portacabin which passes for a chaplaincy centre at one of "my" jails. I have a photo of it but if I posted it here I'd have to kill you - official secrets act and all that. When I first saw it I could have cried but I love it now. It's home, it's in a very central spot, yet it's private, and the only thing I'd swap it for is a new one on the same site. I know it sounds very airy-fairy, but I like to think of it, and indeed of church buildings too, as being like a wee embassy of the Kingdom of God. According to the Bible, Christians are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We are aliens/foreigners/strangers in this world, here on a work permit rather than a tourist visa till we die and go home. Churches (and chaplaincies) work to Kingdom rules and values (or they're supposed to at least, and we certainly try). I like to think that when a prisoner, or indeed a member of staff, crosses the threshold into my crappy Portacabin, or when a local resident crosses the threshold into the church of which Him Indoors is the minister, they are stepping into an embassy where different rules apply from those they normally experience. In the kingdom of God, there aren't grades of human beings. All are loved equally and fiercely. All are accepted. Prisonworld especially, but society generally are prone to lots of "them and us-es". Not so in our embassies. I'm thinking of renaming the Portacabin the "Portanacle". A prisoner asked me one day what Tabernacles were in the Bible. When I said they were temporary dwellings, he said, "like a portacabin"!
5) I love my Parents and my Parents-in-Law. I recognise that the Privilege of having good parents is such a blessing that I shouldn't have taken it for granted when I was young, and now am determined not to. So many of our prisoners suffered for the lack of good parenting themselves as kids and it is being visited on the next generation.
6) I love my Partner. Yes, we are legally married, but husband doesn't begin with "p", does it? He's a star and I don't deserve him. We met in the street (!) in 1987, and were asked by our then minister to run a youth group together. One thing led to another, and we became engaged in 1990, three days after hearing that we had been accepted as candidated for the ministry. We were married in 1993 whilst still at university. He has more energy than me, and has done some sporting challenges such as biathlons and a marathon. He works really hard and keeps us all organised. He has the exact opposite taste in television from me. We solve this by one of us getting the remote control (usually him - I'm not so bothered about tv apart from all the "America's Toughest Jail" type programs which I gleefully watch when he's out) and the other one the computer (usually me).
7) I love my Progeny, seen here at Notre Dame in Paris. Known on this blog as Firstborn, Blue-eyed Boy, Penultimate Child and Youngest Child, their real names are: Pinky, Perky, Bubble and Squeak. No, they're not. I jest. They bring us lots of fun, and the fun outweighs the stress. Just. It's great to see them coming on, and although I miss having a baby in the house, I'm enjoying this stage. We are untroubled by the "terrible twos" of toddlerhood, and we still haven't reached the time when we will have four teenagers, and their attitudes, snarling at one another and at us. (They assure us they won't be like that). They love our church, and have a great circle of pals there. Recently I've been visiting an atheistic website where they get very upset about us Christians "indoctrinating" our children. I have commented a few times to the effect that all parents "indoctrinate" their children. There's no way round it. Children are like big sponges and will pick up whatever their parents believe. Even, I have argued, if you teach your children, as many of my very lovely non-Christian friends seek to do, that it's up to them what they believe, this is still a point of view. The kids will deduce that their parents think that it doesn't matter what you believe. That is a point of view. Our kids aren't force-fed the Christian faith. They could reject it now, though they'd still be coming to church, at least for childcare reasons (!) and they may reject it as adults, but there is no doubt in my mind that their faith is real and is their own.
8) I love Pride and Prejudice. I've read it so often I know bits off by heart. When the BBC series starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (it's good to admire God's creation...) came out I remember hurrying home from an evening service I'd been preaching at in Partick in Glasgow to see it. In the scene in this picture, when he came up out of the water, I said to Him Indoors, "that's not in the book! Oh, but never mind, it's a good addition"! My daughters are hooked too. I love to hear them squealing about the awfulness of Mr Collins, or about Mrs Bennett's rudeness to Mr Darcy when she doesn't know what she owes them. They've also watched the Keira Knightley version and the Bollywood "Bride and Prejudice".
9)I love when our caravan is Pitched somewhere nice, and we get some Peace to chill out with a book while the kids Play. I'm definitely a People Person (I was thinking that this morning as I sat in a senior management meeting and found I was constantly distracted from the fascinating statistics we were looking at by thinking about the characters of the different people around the room) but, sometimes I can have too much of a good thing and then getting away from it all is Perfect, although I miss Perusing all the blogs I love to visit.
10) Lastly, I love Photographs. When the kids were wee, I fear it may have been because in the photos all four were clean and smiling AT THE SAME TIME whereas in real life this was less likely to be the case. We have a whole wall of photos of the kids in the living room. I'd take a photo of it to post here but I can't find my camera. I may edit this paragraph later! I hope to find it tomorrow to take our Puppy (now eight months old and not so puppy-like now) and Put one foot in front of the other and go for a nice walk somewhere. (Edit Sunday 23/11/08 - found camera, but not in time for either yesterday's walk or the beautiful snow scene which we woke up to today. The kids all enjoyed a snowball fight outside church after the service, and as usual I tried to convince them all I am highly allergic to snowballs).
Thanks, Cowboy's Wife. I enjoyed doing that. If anyone else wants to join in, please let me know and I'll assign you a letter and await your post with eagerness.
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