Sunday, 29 April 2012

Pet Peeves {1}

It seems only fair, that if I am to write about the happenings of my life, that I shouldn't gloss over the less than perfect parts of myself and my life. So as a little insight into this crazy mind of mine, I thought I would make an occasional - I don't rant that often I promise - feature of my pet peeves. You know, those things that always get you going; sometimes completely irrational, sometimes justified, sometimes tiny, sometimes bigger, sometimes totally pointless, sometimes with righteous motives. 

Anyway, without further ado, I thought I'd start with one which is actually pretty important and not just silly (watch this space, there will be ridiculous ones to come). So the prize for pet peeve of the moment goes to ... .... ...


I thought I'd put it over there and in green because I dislike it so much. I fervently, passionately, intensely hate, detest and despise the act of lying. This includes deceit, half-truth, white-lies, avoidance of truth, dishonest dealings etc etc etc.

For example, I have a dress in my wardrobe that I have never worn and don't really envisage myself wearing anytime. It still has the label on but I bought it ages ago and I haven't got a receipt. A friend suggested I take it back to the shop claiming it was a present and see whether I could get a refund. Harmless really? Except it wasn't a present, so that's a lie, and it's a lie I'm not going to tell. Another example, we got our Christmas turkey from Asda. Grandad came to us for Christmas this year and he doesn't like supermarket meat, so Mum told him it came from a butcher's. Harmless really? Well, not exactly I don't think.

To start with, lying makes things so complicated. One lie always leads to more lies and ends up in a tangled web which is never without consequences of some kind or another. It seems to me, that it is always simpler to just share whatever the truth was and live with whatever consequences of embarrassment or admonishing there might be. The likelihood being that if you really want something to be hidden that much, it probably ought to be out in the open. I heard in a sermon recently that it's a pretty good measure of whether you should be doing something or not, if you consider whether you would want anyone to know about it or not.  That seemed to ring scarily true in my own heart, I wonder whether you would agree.

More importantly, as a Christian, I desire to share the good news of Jesus with those who do not yet know it. If I have a tendency to be sparing with the truth in the little things, then that is no foundation for sharing what I believe is the ultimate truth. Why should someone believe me when I tell them that Jesus died for their sins, if they know I am not to be trusted when sharing what I did on the weekend? Why should someone accept my invitation to come along to church with me, if I have promised to meet up for coffee several times and never turned up? Why should a child believe me when I tell them that Jesus walked on water, when I also told them that Santa exists and flies through the sky on Christmas eve on a sleigh pulled by reindeer?* It's a matter of integrity really.

Now of course, as in everything, we are only human and will never get this 100% right 100% of the time and I will be as guilty of this as anyone else. But when we slip up, we have the opportunity to add to our integrity by admitting our responsibility and genuinely apologising without excuses. I also know that if you thought hard enough about it, you could probably come up with instances where lying is actually justifiable (the classic being people who hid Jews in the second world war in order that their lives might be saved). But these are the exceptions rather than the rule. The principle remains, that wherever possible, honesty is the best policy. 

That's it, rant over. Let me know if you agree/disagree or if there's something similar which really 'gets your goat' or if you have an example of a lie you've needed to tell. I'd be really interested to hear what you have to say.

*No I don't believe that all people who tell children about Santa are terrible people, I just don't think my personal conviction would allow me to.

Friday, 27 April 2012

I {heart} my bank

Probably not a sentence you hear often. More like something such as, "It's all the Bankers' fault" or "The bank are robbing my money again" or "Did you hear the size of that banker's bonus?". Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is good news a-coming, just read on!

So up until August I had accounts with HSBC (other corrupt banks are available) because my Dad worked for them until he retired a year or so ago. But I was eager that once family loyalty was not an issue, and there was no danger that if I changed banks my student loan would get lost in cyber space, that I would choose a bank for myself. I'd heard good things about the Co-operative bank so they were my first port of call for a current account and regular kind of banking. The man I spoke to was super helpful and not at all patronising when I asked {lots of} questions which were probably really obvious and it was all done rather quickly really. Now, I like the Co-op because not only are they nice in person but they're nice in principle, they have a negative ethical poilcy, which means that they withold investment from any company or body that it or its customers deem unethical. This is pretty counter-normal as most banks routinely invest in the arms trade, blood diamonds etc etc. They also have a pro-community policy so they are proactive in doing things and investing in things which have a positive impact, so that's nice!

So I am pretty happy with the Co-op for all my day to day doings, but, seeing as I am a total geek, who really enjoys hunting around for the best savings accounts, researching tax policies etc, I did want to look elsewhere for somewhere to save money as the Co-op's rates aren't the best at the moment (because they're not investing in those nasty things I mentioned above). I was very close to saving with the Post Office, because I thought they sounded trustworthy and they offered a pretty good deal, but then I found this AMAZING bank called Triodos. They are similar to Co-op in that they won't invest in anything they think has a negative impact on our society or our world, but they go a step further by only investing in businesses which make a positive impact. They also offer some pretty good rates for a small bank and they are super transparent about how they run as a bank and the projects they invest in. They invite every account holder to General Meetings so you can hear what's going on and send you a really cool magazine called The Colour of Money with good news about what the bank is up to. You get to hear about these cool little cafes, education trusts and development projects which Triodos is investing in and every quarter it puts a smile on my face and determination in my gut to live as ethically as possible.

In conclusion, here's a couple of little questions and challenges:

1. Do you know where your money goes?
2. Why not check out the super cool, lovely and money-savvy guys at Triodos?
(There are like a gazillion links on this page to do so - ok, like 5)
3. What issues of justice, social action and responsible living really get you going?


Friday, 20 April 2012

'Thank God for' Friday!

I thought I'd start a weekly tradition of having a 'Thank God for' post at the end of each working week. It's really easy to get bogged down into whatever is going on at a particular time and just slogging through, so this will be a chance to give God the credit He's due for and the amazing things He does all the time. 

I'm going to start with one that is well cheesy and cliche, but I pretty much always forget to thank God for it and without it I'd soon realise how important it is.

Thank God for my health.

This comes to mind at the moment for a few reasons. Firstly, I had a pretty nasty bump to the head on Tuesday morning which really really hurt, but apart from a weird little line on my forehead there's no major damage; no dizziness or headaches or massive bruise or cut. Pretty amazing, the way God made us with body parts like skin and bones that have natural resilence and protection, even against stupid things like jumping onto a cupboard instead of your pillow. Secondly, I have quite a few people around me who are suffering with illness and it's so difficult, I thank God that he is still faithful even through those hard situations and pray that I can show his love to those who really need to see it right now. Finally, there are just so many things that without my health and mobility I wouldn't be able to do, like jump around like a crazy thing at aerobics, or drive myself to Swansea every day or walk to church or tons more. So thanks God, health is a gift, and you are so good for giving it to me.

P.S. If you liked this you might like 'Five Fact Friday's over at Rachel's blog :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Oops I did it again

I'm not an obsessive Britney fan honestly, just thought it was a pretty kitchy name for a second post! And it does have a point, honestly, which I will get to later, I promise. In fact, I did once own the 'Oops I did it Again' album, but there was a pretty nasty incident where I left it in my brother's CD player after practising routines in his room without asking, he was pretty cross and shattered said album into several pieces. It hasn't happened again since, we're really a very loving family, honest!

So I was driving home from work today, and my ipod kindly picked a song which helped me gather my thoughts for this 'awkward second post'. See, I'd been thinking that I wanted to do a post straight-off about what I believe and what my faith means to me but I didn't want it to sound like some 'Vision and Values' page off some university prospectus. Then I heard the words of this chorus and I love them because they're so honest and heartfelt and unpretentious (is that a word?):

" 'Cause I get so clumsy
And I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You’re sayin’ You love me
And You’re still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
‘Cause You’re makin’ me holy
You’re still makin’ me holy "

I thought to myself, 'Yeh, that is exactly what being a Christian is like'. It's definitely not about being perfect because I'd never make the cut when God looks into my heart. Often I get frustrated and feel 'foolish', 'stupid' and 'useless' when I fall into the same weaknesses I have before. But God has proven how much He loves me by His creation, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and the gift of His Holy Spirit to dwell in everyone who trusts Jesus. So now I can know Him and feel Him and with each little step on the journey to seeing God face to face one day, He is making me closer to the person He made me to be, that's what it means to be holy.

So yes, quite frequently I could say 'Oops I did it again' but God still loves me and looks at me like His child and nothing could separate me from Him. And that's why I love Him.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

New kid on the block

Hello there virtual world!

You're probably wondering why I'm here.

Well, I've been considering this whole blog malarky for a while and I couldn't make up my mind.

On the one hand:
Who cares about my silly little thoughts anyway?
Will I even manage to keep posting regularly without getting bored/busy/rubbish?

On the other hand:
I imagine it would be quite helpful to put my thoughts into words and sentences, instead of being just a big mush in my head.
I would feel less like a stalker when reading other people's blogs.
I actually really enjoy reading what people have to say, so who knows, someone might actually enjoy this.

So the other hand won. And here I am. I'm a bit unsure how to go about things so if you have any hints about writing posts/blog design/techytechy stuff like photos etc (gasp)/why you like to blog, they would be most welcome. Although I appreciate that few, if any, people will be reading this/even know it exists.

That's all for now folks. Hello goodbye!