Hello everyone! I realised over Christmas that for our family this year 2012 has been the best year of my life so far. I found myself blessed by all my friends and colleagues and family when I became 60 in May, being treated by my daughters and friends and shared my celebration with friends at work, friends at church and friends near and far. Cathy and Ken got engaged and have a wedding day set on February 7th 2014. I know Ken cares for and values Cathy and they are good for each other; I already feel he is a member of our family. Beth got her keys to her new home on December 10th and is gradually settling in to her bungalow with her cats. She may still be surrounded by boxes as she has not had her usual time off in the run up to Christmas, but she tells me she may be tired but no longer feels depressed. Her long term relationship ended last year but it took a little longer for him to buy her house, so she was free to buy a new home. Now she has the space to rebuild her life with her 3 cats and she has moved into an area of welcoming neighbours. She has received a number of Christmas cards and already been invited in for a cup of tea with a family across the road. These items of good news for my family mean that I have often had a wide smile on my face, as I recognise that prayers are answered in God’s timing. I am blessed with a loving husband and just being with him makes me complete. Of my wider family my niece Sarah, on my late husband’s side married Matt, which was a joyful occasion in June. My latest great nephew was born to my younger sister Fran’s daughter Kate, Jackson Daniel and it is great to see how Fran and Dave have risen to the challenge of becoming grandparents.
At work I have begun to get a grip of a new computer operating system and welcomed two lovely new doctors to our practice and continue to be thankful for working with such a lovely bunch of colleagues. I have been and continue to be blessed as I lead worship too as a local preacher and worship with my friends in Wesley Chapel, enjoying promoting fair-trade with my Traidcraft Stall with the help of Christine. I feel at home there where I have worshipped for the last 6 years since my former chapel closed, although I regularly meet my friends from Oatlands when we raise money for charities at our monthly coffee mornings.
Although for me it has been a good year. My heart bleeds for those who are struggling to manage to live in this time of austerity and cuts. I am saddened by the increase in food banks to feed needy families and those whose lives seem to be even further marginalised. There are more homeless people needing the support of our hostel and drop in and overnight accommodation in our so called wealthy town of Harrogate. There is a lack of affordable housing to rent in our town and certainly to buy. I fear for those facing even more cuts this year and I would much rather pay more income tax and higher council tax to support the vulnerable and marginalised in our society. Perhaps I fear the return of workhouses to accommodate those who are considered the ‘undeserving poor’ or the reliance on voluntary organisations to meet basic needs. It seems to me at times that the poor and vulnerable are seen as culpable for their state by those who have never had to worry about money. I regret the closing of the day hospital for those with mental health problems and am grateful for Mind’s Acorn Centre which provides a drop in and activities for those with such problems. I give thanks for the benefits I have had during my lifetime of the National Health Service and the time my children were growing up and a house I could afford to buy. I taught for more than 10 years in a run down area of Bradford, where the students recognised the limitations of their opportunities because of where they lived rather than their ability and hard work at school. As this year closes I pray that hope, justice and support may increase so that the increasingly marginalised in our society may not fall into despair. Let us play our part in showing love and care for those who cannot help themselves as Jesus did.