Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The one where I dish the dirt

Whilst I wouldn't say I was obsessed with cleaning, I do like to think that I keep my house in a reasonably clean and tidy state.  I hope that if you popped over for an unplanned (but always very welcome) cuppa with me that you would find the house looking tidy but lived in.  There may well be dishes in the sink that need washing, Playstation leads across the lounge floor, and paperwork piled on the table ready to be filed - but all in all - it is generally tidy and comfortable to be in.  That is my understanding anyway.

Which is why, last week, when I had the afternoon free to do some housework, I had a little bit of a shock!  Perhaps my idea of a clean and tidy house really needs to be revisited and revised!  Had I been deluding myself?

The next few paragraphs I do not share with ease, as it may well reveal a little bit too much for comfort.  Hopefully it wont have a negative impact on the frequency of friends' visits to the house.   I am not so sure though ... as I know how shocked I was myself!  Am I really ready to dish the dirt?! 

Having dusted and polished the entire house, I turned my attention to the carpets; it was time to vacuum.  I carried the vacuum cleaner upstairs, turned it on, and set to it.  In no time at all, upstairs was finished.  However, it was a while before I made my way down the stairs.  I couldn't believe it.  I stared at the vacuum cleaner, which sat proudly upright in my son's bedroom.  It was as if it smuggly said: 'Look how dirty your house is!'  and believe me - it was!!  Gross!

Warning: For those of you who have a 'thing' with dirt - I suggest you quickly abort this post - and find a 'cleaner' one to read ...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The one with the handprints

Yesterday at Twinkling Stars Toddler Group we made handprints.  I say 'we' deliberately, as I also decided to put my hands in the paint!  'Such fun!'

My Handprints - to remind me how quickly I am growing up!! :)  

The handprints joined a poem about growing up and were named and dated before going through the laminator.  The children enjoyed getting their hands messy, and the parents were pleased to have a record to keep of their little one's hands.  A perfect mornings work!

So, why did I choose to join in the fun?  Because I am all too aware at the moment of how quickly time goes by and how much we can lose if we do not make the most of the opportunities we are presented with.  Carpe Diem and all that!

The circumstances that led to this reflection?     A pair of shoes!

Most of you will know that when I say 'shoes' - I am not referring to the 'shiny heeled lady variety', but pumps.  Yes, I will admit to having a slight obsession with Converse.  For the last 3 months I have been searching for a pair of green Converse to add to my collection.   With all the different Converse colours around this may sound a simple mission.  It was not!  Having searched far and wide it appears this particular shade of green (it had to be just right!) is not being made by Converse in this country at the moment.  Even the online Converse shop let me down!  Sadly, I had to abort the mission.

That is, until I spotted a pair of green Converse style pumps in Superdry a few weeks ago.  They were the perfect colour!  Despite the obvious fact they weren't real Converse, I decided to give them a chance.  They fit well, were on par with Converse price, and looked great.  Fantastic.

I am now a proud owner of green pumps - the perfect colour to wear with several of my favourite tops.  End of story?  Not quite ...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The one with the proud mum

Usually my ten year old son greets me in the playground after school with a smile - but last Thursday was a different story all together.  Looking down at his feet, he slowly made his way over to where I stood.  After offering only a very quiet 'hi', he waited beside me for my nieces to come out of their classrooms.  I suspected the worst.  There I stood, pretending to search intently for the girls, when really I mentally prepared my 'it's ok, you tried your best, that is all that counts' speech.  You see, today had been a big day for him.  Having been elected onto the school council the week before, this was the day he would stand in front of the whole school and give a speech explaining why he should be elected as Chair.  His face and manner suggested the day hadn't gone all that well.

We stood in the playground for what seemed like eternity, when I took the plunge and asked how his day had gone.  'How has your day been?'  I casually asked, trying not to visibly cringe as I waited for his disheartened response. Still looking down, he answered, 'Not so good' - and just as I was about to launch into my speech, he added - 'I only got voted in as Chair!'  The toad!!

Looking pleased with himself after the elections :)

Pride began to rise up within me, quickly doing away with all the feelings of dread that had occupied my mind only seconds ago.  My boy had done it.

As I walked back to the car listening to his account of the day, it dawned on me that I would have been just as proud of him had his response to my question been different.  You see, his attitude towards the elections had, in my opinion, been exemplary.  This is why ...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The one with the attitude

As I scanned over my Facebook wall this morning I spotted a new post at Bloggerish Allsorts - a blog that I enjoy reading.  I always enjoy Dan's posts, but this one has really made me think.  The title, short and to the point, says it all: 'Positivity'.

I encourage you to click on the link and read the blog for yourself - it is a quick and easy read - but one that may just well change the way you see things today.  It has me.

In his opening paragraph Dan sets the scene:

'I've been finding myself up against a lot of negative attitudes recently, not least my own, and am really trying to continue to be up-beat despite them. It seems that all around us we are encased in walls of discouragement and in many cases, complete apathy (which is even worse).'

Isn't this a very real observation?  It is certainly one that I have noticed in recent months.  And, like Dan, I have to admit that one of the worst examples of negativity has been my own.  I have grumbled, complained, seen the worst in people or situations, and my enthusiasm and motivation has at times been buried deep.  This is not something I am proud of, and I am not sharing this publicly to evoke kind and encouraging words from friends.  Instead, I hope that by confessing this in black and white - I will be challenged and motivated to change.  

This may seem a little dramatic, or over-the-top, but I honestly believe positivity is key to living life to the full and encouraging those around us to do the same.  Don't misunderstand me, this doesn't mean we need to go around permanently smiling, singing, dancing, and viewing absolutely everything as wonderful.  This is not positivity - it is ignorance and stupidity.  Harsh?  Yes perhaps, but we all know life does have its measure of disappointment, pain and hardship.  So what does it mean?

Friday, 2 September 2011

The one with the mistake

Last week, a friend and I visited Vistaprint online with the intention of designing a Welcome Card for Wessex.  I have used Vistaprint fairly regularly over the last few years and think they are a great cheap and easy site for business cards.  If you haven't already, you should check them out!

We found a design that we both liked, checked it was fit for purpose and filled in the necessary information.  Pleased with the outcome, I ordered the cards, and even paid an extra £3 for speedy delivery!!  Our super-cool new 'Welcome to Wessex' cards would be with us in less than a week.  Exciting!

And so the wait began ......

Five days later a small parcel arrived, that I immediately recognised as a Vistaprint parcel.  They were here!  Yay!  (Yes, I do get really rather excited at strange things - I am the same with new stationary!)

So, with a great amount of eagerness and anticipation I opened the box, and there they were.  Black background, green and grey lettering, cool design, yes, they were good!!  With a smile on my face (easily pleased!) I kept one out to admire later, and put the rest of them back in the box.  And that was that.  Job well done.

Until two days later, when everything changed.  I glanced down at the card on my table and my little world of joy turned upside down and inside out!
The issue?  I had spotted a mistake.   There it was, in black and white.  I couldn't believe it.  I had double checked the details, and so had my co-worker!  Well - not well enough evidently as it seems that our church was now called 'Wessex Christian Fellowsihp'!

Although, the mistake is not glaringly obvious at first glance, it is still there.  The card is flawed.  250 imperfect cards, unfit for purpose.  What a waste.  What a disappointment.  They may as well be thrown out.

What if God saw us that way?

We mess up all the time.  Our character is blemished.  We make mistakes.  We think, say and do the wrong things.  Like the card, we are imperfect.

And yet, God doesn't put us back in the box and throw us away. 

Yes, he sees our flaws.  He sees us mess up.  He knows what we are really like.  But - he doesn't let our mistakes define who we are and what we can do.  He does not deem us useless, inept, redundant.

God created us and knows us inside out, and still chooses to use us!  He allows us to learn from experience and continues to teach us and develop us as we walk and work with him.

Our mistakes and imperfections do not change the way he feels about us;  He loves us unconditionally.  He sees the good in us, and knows our potential.  He doesn't scold or rebuke when we fall or mess up, but gently and lovingly encourages us to get back up, to learn, and to try again.

Be encouraged today, God loves you and has a plan and a purpose for your life.  He doesn't make mistakes.  Of course, we may (will!) mess up along the way, but our mistakes do not make us unlovable or of no use.  We have a purpose, and God will help us to fulfill it. Even during our darkest times, when we feel invisible, broken and faulty, God looks at us with pride and encourages us to keep going.  We can be confident that He who began a good work in us, will see it through to completion! (Philippians 1:6)

I am so thankful that God is so much bigger than my mistakes!  Aren't you? :)

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