Monthly Archives: May 2007

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I preached, about two months ago, on how difficult we find it to trust that God knows what he’s doing.
How difficult it is, to trust that God knows what he’s doing!

Those niggles of doubt that must have God jumping up and down and shouting “For goodness sake, just trust me, will you!!!” You know, I can hear him shouting – it’s just so hard to let go of that knowledge that God sometimes answers “no” to our requests and it seems just asking for trouble to go totally banking on the answer being “yes”, just because you asked for something. It’s no wonder that I can’t concentrate on anything today and found sleep hard to come by last night.

But God certainly seems to be shouting “Just trust me” loud and firmly in my ear. Yesterday was a case in point. You know how sometimes, heaven forbid, your mind wanders during the readings? No, I’m sure you’ve never experienced that… and she adds hurriedly not that that ever really happens to me, of course. But there I was in church, waiting to do my Gospel reading after the Old Testament one and totally oblivious to the words from Isaiah – just engrossed in my “Lord, I don’t know whether to wait for a yes or a no from the school – what should I be feeling now?” turmoil. And suddenly a voice in my brain said “For Goodness Sake Smudgie, LISTEN TO THE BLINKING READING, WILL YOU!!!” (Goodness, I’ve just looked back at the lectionary to see what the reading was, and it wasn’t on the list – it was obviously chosen by the preacher for its pertinence to the service). And there was my reassurance – the words of Isaiah speaking straight to me in answer to my prayer.

And then today. Coincidence? God-incidence? Not sure. Another thing playing on my mind was that I didn’t know what the school report had said which had been sent from Tiddles’ previous school direct to the boarding school. I was fairly confident it would be influential, but in which direction? What had they said? In my rather dopey state this morning, I arrived home from school for lunch, only to realise that I’d left my keys in my classroom. How frustrating! So once we’d eaten, I took Tiddles along for the ride and returned to work to collect them. I was walking out through the foyer when I saw a visitor that I thought I recognised and we acknowledged one another. She asked how Tiddles was doing and the penny dropped – it was his former Head of Year Nine, the lovely teacher who had done her best for him while he was there and had filled in and sent the report off. She said straight away “I trust the form got there OK. I was honest, just as you said, but also said to them that it was my sincere belief that our school had not been right for him and that he would respond well to the environment at the boarding school and flourish there.” I could have kissed her! But for her to be there, and for me to need to go back to the school, both at the same time and just when I was needing to hear her say what she did?

So where does this leave me? Well, certainly still not daring to believe catagorically that he’ll get in, even before the letter arrives on the doormat. But beginning, just beginning, to realise that I do trust God to know what he’s doing. The indicators are that Tiddles will be offered a place, that we have reached out and grabbed the lifebuoy that God’s holding out to us and he’s not going to snatch it away from us; but if he is turned down I know, deep down, that God does know what he’s doing and will have a purpose for Tiddles and will bring it to fruition if we simply learn to trust him. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Me! Me!

What is it about these things that holds such an attraction. I love reading them and love doing them. Memes, that is. And yet they’re only really interesting when they’re done by someone you sort of know a bit already, and I am sure they’re more interesting to the person doing them than the person reading them. Do I care? Pah! If you don’t like it, don’t read it – after all, I’m not writing this for you ;o) So, in true wiblogging tradition I am copying nessa and ian and farli (and probably some others that I haven’t got to yet) and memeing my forays into literature.

Books in bold are ones I’ve read.
Any in bold with an asterisk (*) after them are ones I’ve tried to read but failed.
Any in bold with a caret (^) after them are ones I’ve read and probably never will again — because once is enough [either due to length or my dislike of it]
Books in italics are ones I want to read.
Books in normal print are ones I’m not interested in (perhaps some of you can convince me one of these is a must-read!)

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) (Whether this becomes italicised depends on…..)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)*
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) *
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) I’ve seen the film – does that count?
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timoth Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

It is probably a sign of my mental deterioration post-motherhood that I have not even heard of half of the ones I have left in plain type, let alone formed any opinion of whether I want to read them or not. Before I became a mother, my definition of a book on my “to-read” list was that it should have words in it. Now my definition is that it is to be short enough for me to stand a chance of finishing it and straightforward enough for me to keep track of where I am if I end up leaving three weeks between each paragraph. But I did manage a whole book last week. Within the week. How amazing is that? I think that makes two so far this year. :o)

The Wrong Trousers

A week. Waiting. Watching the post. Veering from utter confidence in the knowledge that it was God that led us to this boarding school and that his promise to keep Tiddles in the palm of his hand was not in vain, and then to the other extreme of not daring to hope for fear of disappointment… and then the hope that God won’t be disappointed in my lack of faith, yet trying to be open to letting God’s will be done rather than mine…. if I’m feeling like this, what on earth is Tiddles feeling?

Despite my fears that he might be overcome by the situation, Tiddles really did me proud. He did his very best – looked good, talked well, said the right things and cannot have failed to convey how right this school is for him. The only thing that is going to mess things up for him, I’m sure, is my interview. I took the decision, or rather the decision was made for me as I just cannot act any differently, that I would be open and honest in the interview. I knew that if he got in under false pretences it wouldn’t work out anyway – I wanted them to be aware of where his difficulties lay as well as how perfectly the school would meet his needs. I pulled no punches. When they asked about his behaviour at his previous school, I told them. When they asked about why he behaves in certain ways, I filled them in. When they asked if I could afford to send him there, I told them I couldn’t but I would! And when they asked how I had first found out about their school I told them. “At the risk of sounding like a religious nutcase, cos I’m not the kind of Christian who goes around saying ‘God told me in a dream’, I have to answer that question honestly and say ‘God told me in a dream’.”! They wanted to know how important my faith was to me, and also how much it was important to Tiddles…. and they asked him the same questions when he had his interview too, despite it not being a faith school. Could go either way, I guess, depending on their opinions.

I was impressed that when the Head commented on how smart Tiddles looked (his own choice of clothing, I hasten to add), he answered better than if he’d been coached: “Oh, I always like to look smart if I’m doing something important”! He managed it without a flicker of a smile too, considering the circumstances.. I’m not sure if I’d have done as well. The thing was, he chose to wear his suit. He looks gorgeous in it – black trousers and blazer, pink shirt and grey tie. He got dressed just before we set out, so’s not to get breakfast on his clothes… and discovered …. he’d picked up his brother’s trousers and they didn’t, and I mean didn’t, fit! Disaster! Fortunately we’d slipped his blue trousers in the bag, thinking that if there was a problem he would probably get away with wearing those. He put them on and.. we discovered that he is suddenly getting a lot bigger. Oh dear. He might have got away with trousers that looked rather small. He might have got away with trousers that didn’t match. But trousers that were too small and a different colour were a total disaster. But what could we do? Apart from wearing his jogging bottoms, there was no choice.

We set out. The printout we had of the estimated journey time said an hour and a half, so we decided to allow two and a half hours, for an 11.30 appointment and if possible to call in somewhere en route. Moral of the story is never to believe estimated journey times generated by computers which, if they were to get behind the wheel of a car, would be a menace on the roads. The journey itself took two and a half hours (with only a slight detour at one point where the road signs decided to disappear completely just at the point when we were almost at the school) so we did arrive at the school fifteen minutes late (which went unnoticed – we just cut our thirty minute pre-interview tour of the school in half as we’d seen it so recently before !).

We passed a Tesco – no clothes there, and that seemed to be the only place en route. Finally, in the last town before our destination, despite time being slightly tight, we raced into Sainsburys as the poster outside said they did clothes. And so they did. Children’s clothes, up to age 8, and ladies’ clothes. AAAGGGHH! So what did we do? Well, hanging there on the rail were a really rather classy pair of black trousers. And what’s more, they looked about right. A quick exchange of money at the till, a race to the car and a wriggling competition for Tiddles as he changed trousers in the front seat while I drove madly off towards the school. And I have to say, he looked really good.

I so want for him to get in there. Please God… teach me to say “your will be done”.

Birthday treats

Well, it seems a bit odd, settling down now at the computer to write my reports. What do you mean, this isn’t a report? I’m reporting, aren’t I? And what are you implying when you suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, I suddenly thought of blogging the weekend as a source of distraction and a means of putting off the inevitable “Jamie has been in my lessons and has done some maths. He has done quite well but could do better” reworded ad nauseam? It’s not that at all, I just thought that I had a moral duty to let you know that the weekend was survived with all inhabitants of Smudgie Towers intact and smiling and has now been plunged into a limbo of watching the post.

Smudgelet’s birthday was a delight and he had a fantastic weekend with honorary auntie M who spoilt him absolutely rotten. Suffice to say that my gift of a digital camera now has several photographs of the largest “chocolate extravaganza icecream sundae” in the world on it. He was extremely appreciative of all his presents – including a parcel from one of his aunties containing a set of hot curling brushes for his hair 🙂 Guess what duties I was granted this morning!

To make up for going away on the evening of his birthday (and we almost missed the ferry, so tight was it between him coming in from school and us having to leave) that I picked him up from school for lunch and took him into town. I made the fatal mistake of asking him which cafe he wanted to go to. We were quite coincidentally stood outside Thorntons at the time. I should have known – this is not my eldest son who has sensible tastes in eating places, this was Smudgelet. One grumpy meal later….

Tiddles and I returned from our trip abroad in time to go straight to the theatre for Smudgelet’s concert. The Music Centre concerts are always so inspiring. What amazing music from such young musicians and played with such enthusiasm. The Music Centre caters for over 400 children every Saturday morning and there are enough groups, bands and orchestras to force each set of concerts to take three nights. Smudgelet sang his “solo with six others” and did incredibly well – and I was right on the front row to see and hear him. Was I proud or what? It was an ordeal staying right to the end as both Tiddles and I were struggling to stay awake, but the music was so special that we couldn’t bear to leave early.

Foreboding, Relief, Excitement, Nerves….

What a turmoil of emotions surround the inhabitants of Smudgie Towers this week.

Tiddles came home on Tuesday. I was concerned to find myself sinking deeper and deeper into a sense of foreboding as the time came nearer to meet him off the plane, not least because I am having to think of how to deal with the fact that he’s having a few too many treats while he’s away (tricky one to handle, that one), and the darker my mood became, the more it contrasted with Smudgelet’s merry excitement at the thought of seeing his brother again. But I think I made the right decision. I made an effort not to dampen Smudgelet’s joy, but also decided not to force myself to feel something I didn’t feel, but rather to wait and play everything by ear instead of beating myself up with guilt. And it worked. Now, two days later, I’m feeling glad to have my boy home again and enjoying his company once more. Long may it last.

Needless to say, Smudgelet is unbearable today as this is, officially, his last ever chance to be nine years old. He has identified the past year as the year in which he learned to enjoy being his own person with his own interests and being able to start doing things that his older brother now can’t do because he’s too old or not interested. I was pleased to hear that – a very mature summing up of nine-ness, I thought. I was also rather pleased with his choice of the highlight of the year – the weekend when I surprised them both by picking them up from school on Friday night and, instead of going home, whisking them off to a caravan site for the weekend. Mind you, he’s right – it was a magical three days!

Tomorrow is a day of tiny treats. The main excitement is that I’m picking him up from school at midday and taking him out to lunch. :o) It’s a bit of a rush, really, cos their lunch hour is quite short and it’ll take me time to get there – we just have time to race into town, grab a sandwich, and race back again – but it used to mean a lot to Tiddles to do it and Smudgelet is indescribably excited by the prospect now that’s he’s in Middle school.
Then after school it’s a quick birthday tea and the grand (but hurried) opening of the presents before he zips off to Cubs, courtesy of honorary auntie M, and Tiddles and I slip off to the ferry for a late night (well, late for us) trip to deepest darkest England, an overnight sleep at my sister’s, and then on for his interview at WonderSchool. Then Saturday afternoon we race back across country in the determined hope of catching a ferry to get us back in time for Smudgelet’s choir concert – especially important as my son, yes my son, is singing a solo. He is, apparently, singing his solo concurrently with three other people who are also singing the same song as a solo too… but I’m still just as proud. But our first priority is getting Tiddles through this interview.

He is really banking on getting in and will be devastated if it doesn’t come to fruition. Never mind him. I am really banking on him getting in and will be devastated if it doesn’t come to fruition. Everything is on hold. I pray that he’ll be calm and collected enough to show them that’s he’s capable of making a real positive contribution to the school and that they’ll see his potential and decide to give him that chance. I am confident that God has his hand in this. Certainly it was good to see Tiddles getting his suit ready (he was given free choice of what he thought most suitable to wear) and practising talking clearly and confidently, and he’s asked me to give him a mock interview tomorrow.

I wonder if his butterflies are wearing hiking boots like mine are. Please remember us all in your prayers tomorrow and Saturday (and into the anticlimax of Sunday).

Best friends for life

That’s what the walk leader predicted, and he may well have been right.

Last Saturday morning loomed with a slight break in the torrential rain (thank goodness – yesterday’s Walk the Wight turned into Wade the Wight, and I was really pleased we hadn’t gone for it this year when we watched a parade of soggy and dripping walkers plodding past as we drove to church, and apparently one of our school kids opened her jacket after walking the last four miles and removed her walker number from her jumper beneath, only for it to disintegrate in her hands!). We packed waterproof clothing and a flask in our rucksack, put the walking boots in the car, and set off for Jubilee Down – yet another of my favourite places, and yet one that we haven’t been to for years.

As we drew into the car park, Smudgelet and I in the Smudgemobile, we both felt our hearts leap as we found ourselves parking alongside a van from which there disembarked five rather unusual passengers – llamas from Wight Llama Treks. For the morning was to be spent walking the Downs with a llama.
Are they here yet?

It was a little bit of an extravagence, considering I am supposed to be being really careful with money at the moment, but it was an opportunity that neither Smudgelet nor I were ready to miss. And getting there early gave us the advantage of getting to know all the llamas before the others arrived, and also for Smudgelet to choose which one he wanted to accompnay us on our walk. He selected Manuel, the white one here with Kipper and Bruce.
leader of the pack

And Manuel was rather fond of Smudgelet, too

Is that another thistle I see?

Ebenezer Here’s Ebenezer. Spotty was a bit too shy to get a good photo of him.

The llamas were wonderful. They didn’t spit – well, only once, and that was with good reason. They were excellent company, and so funny. Bruce was supposed to be the leader, but Manuel wasn’t really impressed to be in second place and kept increasing his pace until he was in front, where he was quite happy. The others were classic, though. They too would get up a burst of speed and overtake, trotting along quite happily at the front until all of a sudden they’d realise there was nobody in front of them and panic until someone else had caught up and taken the lead! They were determined to be allowed to munch en route, despite us being instructed to prevent them from doing so except at the set munching stations.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm..... As you can see, the llama’s were quite determined.

It was absolutely freezing, especially for poor Smudgelet who had forgotten his coat (the wally!) but he turned to me at one point and said it was the best day of his life. I know how he feels – we really did bond with Manuel, as well as getting really quite fond of the other four too, and would love to walk with him again. We went at a pace of about 2 miles an hour, a nice gentle stroll with several stops for munching, to allow extremely perplexed horses to pass unmolested, and for rather extended toilet stops (when one goes, they all go!) which gave us a perfect chance to take in the gorgeous (if rather windswept) view.

Say cheeeeeeeeeeese

It was a sad moment watching the llamas being led into their transport to go home – we watched and waited until the van was right out of sight…….. and then we hopped in the car and headed down to the field where we knew they lived (thanks to the Wightmeet treasure hunt and Rosamundi’s amazing llama-spotting skills) and raced to the south of the Island to wave to them again 😀

Heading for home - Manuel is last to leave

Interlude

You’ll like this:

You may have read in the blog below about the walk which my sister and I did, accompanied by Smudgelet on wheels, along the canal towpath to the rather nice little cafe at the waterside. You may or may not (I suspect the latter) be surprised to know that my sister and I decided to stop at said cafe for a cup of coffee and an icecream. Smudgelet, however, was reluctant to part company with his bike so he stayed on the towpath, cycling back and forth and, for fun, peeping over the wall at us and calling “hello”. The towpath itself was quite a bit lower than the cafe garden so he had to reach up with his hands, grab the stones of the wall, and leap up to do this, which was indeed quite amusing to see first some fingers and then a helmetted pair of eyes appear above the parapet and rapidly disappear again.

After a little while the whole body of a Smudgelet heaved itself up onto a slightly lower piece of wall further along the garden and, with a wave, sat there admiring the view. Then he turned and called to my sister in an “interested enquiry” voice: “Auntie J, which, if you dont’ mind me asking, is the path to Bath?” but pronouncing both a’s as long in a rather posh manner. “The parth to Barth?” we echoed. “Yes, the path to Bath!”.

“Now the question is, do you want the path to Bath or the parth to Barth?” Our accent, coming from the Midlands, naturally shortens the a while Smudgelet’s Isle of Wight accent lengthens it so it was enormous fun to tease him. From here we proceeded to tease still further: “To get to Barth you go up the stairs, holding onto the bannister for safety, along the landing and through the door immediately in front of you.” Smudgelet is such fun to tease – he gets so flustered and exhasperated 😀 “Stop being silly, will you? If I wanted to go to Bath, would I go to the left from here or to the right?” “Oh no, Smudgelet, you can’t have a bath in the canal, you’d be arrested!” “Look, just answer my question and stop messing around, you two. Which direction would I go if I wanted to go to the place called Bath?”

We gave in. Having absolutely no idea which way it was, we guessed and my sister said, “I think it’s more likely to be to the left than to the right -yes, I think it’s that way”.

Seconds later the top of two cycle helmets went past the wall alongside us in the direction we’d indicated, and a lady’s voice called out, “Thank you, mummy and Auntie J!”

Bank Holiday

Who cares about the weather when you’ve got good company and plenty of coffee?

We had a fantastic weekend at my sister’s. I hadn’t been there since Dad became ill so it was quite an adventure. It felt odd, driving there without Dad – I think I’d only ever done the journey once without him – but Smudgelet and I talked about him en route and it really felt rather nice, at last remembering him from when he was well rather than the old and frail man who is in my more recent memories.

It was a beautiful afternoon on the Saturday so we took Smudgelet’s bike with us to Bradford on Avon, one of my favourite places, and went for a walk along the canal to the cafe and then back along the river bank to the craft shops at the end. It was delightful. Each direction was totally different, though I think I liked the river best. There was a magic moment when we spotted a heron in a tree and spent ages taking photos (none came out!) and watching him as he turned this way and that, soaking up the sunshine.

S4021506 This was the pirate boat we saw, complete with skull and crossbones, much to Smudgelet’s delight. It was called the Black Pig. Particularly fitting as we are currently reading Arthur Ransome’s Peter Duck.

S4021508
What can beat countryside like this for destressing? “He leads me by still waters – he restores my soul”

S4021511
Never mind Where’s Wally. Spot Smudgelet!

S4021519
The boy’s mad – utterly mad!

Sunday we took it easy in the morning and then made our way over to Swindon. SHOPS! Actually, it was a bit disappointing as there was nothing much worth spending on in the designer village, although I did get a rather nice set of saucepans which were rather a bargain but hardly suitable attire for a night out! Oh, and Smudgelet wangled a pair of sandals. But the afternoon made up for it as we visited STEAM, the museum of the Great Western Railway. Oh my, that was absolutely wonderful, and Smudgelet was in seventh heaven.

S4021523 S4021528 S4021527

Monday’s torrential rain was just perfect too – gave us the ideal excuse for a lie in and a lazy morning drinking coffee and chatting 😀

What a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

God and Screwtape at loggerheads

Ha! Take that, Screwtape. I’ve got God on my side and you’re not going to win.
Mind you, I’d really rather you didn’t take that as a challenge to do your worst, cos I’d really rather you gave up right now. But I’ve got God on my side and you’re not going to win.

OK, so you sniggered up your sleeve when my car failed its MOT and looked like being out of action all weekend and presented me with a bill far outreaching my current bank balance. But you reckoned without my wonderful garage people who managed to get the part they needed extra speedily so that I was only without my car for a day; they felt so sorry for me having nothing to show for the great expense I was incurring so they gave me a voucher for a free car wash to make up for it; and a letter arrived to confirm that the Post Office had finally admitted defeat over our wrangling with them and were willing to let me have my little bonus nest-egg from Dad (the one that’s all mine and not shared with the siblings and thus accessible immediately) which just covered the cost of the car.

Defeated on that one, you took advantage of us going to church in a rush and not closing a door properly to tempt Charlie Cat into tackling the new gerbil cage. We came home to find sawdust everywhere, a cat-and-gerbil chase going on between Charlie and Ratty with Ratty cornered and facing his doom and no sign of Mousie to be had at all. But again you failed cos God loves gerbils too. I stepped inside the door and swept Ratty up into my open hand where he sat safe and sound while Smudgelet relocated Charlie into a bedroom. I put Ratty safely in his cage to recover but then faced the dilemma of finding Mousie. Surely Charlie hadn’t eaten him!

All the internal doors had been left open except the bedroom doors. How would we ever track him down? We couldn’t keep Charlie locked up for ever, yet it was obvious that he’d be the first to find our missing gerbil. A quick and fervent prayer… and what do you know? Smudgelet goes into the lounge and shouts “Mum, under the piano! I saw him!” and sure enough, there he is. It was a bit of a challenge to catch him without frightening or hurting him too much, but catch him we did and he’s now safe and sound with Ratty. The cage is relocated to my bedroom where they’ll be safe. I won’t get any sleep, mind, but it’s worth it to know that they’re out of Charlie’s reach. And after a night of being rather shaken and subdued, this morning they have eaten some food and nibbled a cardboard tube so I think they’re going to survive their rather shocking adventure.

And if God cares about two small gerbils (and who wouldn’t? They are rather lovely!) then he’s got to be holding my sons and me in the palm of his hand too! So I’ll trust him to guide us on Saturday and do with the interview what He will.