Complete Hero: Joseph, Mary’s Husband

Caveat: Churchy…Joseph, Mary’s husband was a good guy who is quietly doing the right thing without fanfare.

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While chatting with my Visiting Teachers who are friends who’ve been visiting with me for 14 years last night, we got to talking about Joseph and how appreciative we are of him.  Being LDS, we ladies were chatting about how positively affirming it is when you come across a good guy who is quietly doing the right thing without fanfare and how Joseph was a prime example of this.  Off the top of my head, I can think of several qualities and characteristics Joseph demonstrated which have often been overlooked as I got to the good bits of the scriptures.

Based on the premise that I believe the Nativity story to be true I started thinking about how impressive it was that Joseph was as chosen to be Jesus’s earthly dad as Mary was to be his earthly mother.  His character and reliability must have been so consistent that Heavenly Father knew he could be trusted which is high praise indeed.  He would be there to burp the baby, or change nappies, or teach the child to walk, and to confirm Mary was right when she’d said it was bed time, and to make sure the child could read and make sure there was enough money to buy food and keep a roof and teach the child how to be a carpentry apprentice.

We know relatively little about Joseph.  He was descended from Kings which we know through the lineages or begat’s.  It is likely that many people were descended from this lineage so wasn’t particularly a claim to fame but something to be considered.

He was a carpenter and could probably fabricate a cart or a shelving unit with no trouble.  He would have gotten a few splinters over the years and his hands would have been rough but hopefully as experience increased, minor scrapes would have become fewer in number.

He let Mary ride on the donkey rather than have her walking.  He found the only place in town available for her to rest and have the baby.  He kept it together when his heart sank when they saw the stable. He received guests gracefully.

When they were warned, he left his business and took his family to live in Egypt for a few years until they were advised it was safe to return.  That’s a few countries over and far from their family and network of friends and business contacts.

He was observant of the rites and traditions of his faith.  We glean this from the account of Jesus being in the temple aged 12.  The temple wasn’t a scary place, it was a place they felt quite at home.

They were not wealthy.  When it was time to make a sacrifice it is reported they bought a bird, not a lamb, and this was because they were poor, effectively.

But the part of the accounts which most impress me are when he first heard about the pregnancy.  He worried.  He worried about what people would say, what his responsibilities would be, what people would think of him, was Mary telling the truth, that it was tradition to put her out and embarrass her but it states specifically that he did not want to make a public show of her, and when it was confirmed to him that Mary was telling the truth, he had a believing heart and chose to be involved and hold no good thing back.

He and Mary went on to have further children.  When Jesus declared the beginning of his mission, lots of people turned to each other and said “What, Joseph’s boy?” which to me shows he didn’t treat their firstborn any differently or separately.

He was a good dad.  My own supposition is that the responsibility would have weighed heavily on his mind on occasion.

He honoured his distant but Royal heritage and raised a most wonderful boy.  I am thankful that he accepted that responsibility when it would have been so easy to have Mary chastised and quite possibly stoned to death for the disgrace of being an unmarried mother.  I am thankful for his faithful heart.  I am thankful that he carried on with a grace and dignity, and hopefully humour, to raise the boy to be a man.  I am thankful that his son loved him and respected him.  The world needs more dads like Joseph.

From my perspective as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I look forward to the opportunity to thank him in person one day for all he did.  I would like to thank Josephs dad too for raising such a good son that would do all of these things.  It’s going to be a great day when we get to spend time with the people we have come to respect through the histories which were written down and preserved for us.  Exciting times lay ahead.

Nearly forgot Christmas

Some people helped to build us up, some tried to break us, but we are still here to put up the Christmas Tree…

On 20th December 2016, I put up our Christmas tree.

This isn’t the latest it has ever been in the Whyte House but it has been a while since we left it this late.

We’ve been pretty busy this year what with trying to stop the world spinning off it’s axis during and after the appointment of a thin skinned, misunderstood because his mother surely loves him, candidate for the position of leader of the free world.

Plus we in the UK opted out of being politically aligned to Europe during the #Brexit referendum.  Sure, we share a tectonic plate but that shouldn’t stop us, eh.

Add to that our own joys and tribulations, we recently were under the weather for a few weeks, Missy having a difficult time with a teacher took up 4 months of our summer, Mr Pollyanna wanting us to shove off rather than share all the resources we accumulated during the marriage, friends health concerns, getting stuck on the motorway on the 3 hour drive to York – the parent city of New York, as in “like York, but new”, not one but two cars packing up on me, negotiating a temporary peace treaty with the outlaws to gain access to Missy’s lovely Grandmother during a state visit from Jamaica this past summer were all difficult things through which we waded.

On the plus side we’ve seen a thawing of tensions between my own mother and me, outliving and surviving another reorganisation of personnel at work, spending weekends at the beach with my girl friends, going back to the LDS Temple for the first time in 19 years, becoming a Primary Sunday School Teacher for 8-10 year olds, enjoying York when we finally arrived there… (it’s a beautiful city, you should try it), I grew chili plants, Jalapeño’s I think, from seeds of a left over chili from last year, attending my first ever Gay Pride #nofilter #loveislove this last summer on my birthday weekend, taking carloads of girls to dances all over the Midlands and South East so that they’re in the right place at the right time to have a laugh and relax without pressure to conform to worldly expectations of what Teens should be up to, I’ve spent time with family, picked the old folks brains about our family history which included lots of anecdotes about how if you turned left the road headed to town but turn right and you could go for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean… and finding a trove of birth certificates.

With everything going on, I’m surprised the tree was decorated at all.  Be grateful for small mercies.  EVEN IF the daughter won’t let me put tinsel on the tree because it is “gauche” and “ughhh”, at least we have a corner of festivity in our home.  Don’t tell her but I’m going to sneak some tinsel in just for my own amusement.

It is hopefully our last Christmas in this house.

The house has been kind to us even if it is creaking and leaking.  It is larger than the previous little home we moved to which was a “Mews Cottage”, an Estate Agents word for “how are we going to actually fit people in here”.  This house has ample parking spaces.  It doesn’t have neighbours who stand outside our window staring in even when we try to tell them not to.  It is in a good neighbourhood.  It has housed many a sleepover for Missy’s friends and my family. It has been a place to retreat when the world got too much.  It was a place I made an emotional nest for my girl when was sorrowful this time last year.  It has been a place we fed friends.  It was what we needed, when we needed it.

I’m glad that we were advised we could move home, but part of me has made this a home we can take with us in our positive memories.  The tree will come with us, along with the chili plants we cultivated successfully, and next year it will take pride of place in the living room.  Together we will sit by the glow of the tree lights and talk about the day, just as we have all the other years.  Life may get very dark for a while and it may take all of your gumption to stay assertively optimistic but it gets better if you hang on in there and keep trying.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

 

 

Blagging it

The kid is trying out a new skill of blagging it, it’s a very exciting time in the Casa Blanca.

My daughter just excitedly, and with a little trepidation, shared that she scored 5th highest in the class in a recent maths test.  I decided to be express happiness for her “success” knowing full well that there would be more to the story.  I expressed happiness outwardly because that is what we do in our house, being a house blessed with Asperger’s as a permanent guest.  Then came the rest of the story.  She was 5th in the class, highest among “normal peoples grades”, there was room for improvement, some kids got a very low percentage while some like her got around the appropriate passing mark, and her frenemy got a very high grade.  I asked if she’d tried hard and studied and she replied in the affirmative, and reminded me that this result was 14% points higher than her last test result.

Now, here’s the rub.  I wanted to tell her off for only getting an average grade.  But, she’s chosen to enter in to a male dominated industry as her career choice and I’ve witnessed one persistent observation time after time in my work life.  It is this….

Men blag it.

They just make it up.

They spin the story time after time.

They just make up why this result is the best that could possibly have been achieved under these circumstances and how heroic they are to have entered the arena and look at how brainy they are, even when the evidence points to the fact that this may not be true.  All The Time.  They are invited to apply for jobs for which they are not qualified nor have experience and they go for it and learn on the hoof.  They give it a shot and in doing so go a great deal farther a great deal faster.

So, I’m giving Missy a few opportunities to test her wings in this method.  She has to have the backup of study and application, she has to be improving, she has to have a great attitude, but I’m giving her opportunities to hear her own voice even when I want to go all womany and tell her that there should have been greater effort and application… there will be time for that… she knows that her grade wasn’t perhaps as great as we’re saying.

I am going to let her spin her story and know that she has to work harder next time.  I hope that this continues to imbue a thrust toward constant improvement.  But really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not really my problem.  I am here to develop with her the skills necessary to succeed and provide for herself in the workplace.  If talking about why your product is something that the other person really should need or want, or talking about why your company should be selected to win the contract is to continue to be a desired skill, she will have started to test the waters of Spin in the Whyte House as a teen.

She’s a great kid, she studies a great deal, she’s overcome a great deal and she’s applying herself.  I’m here to help her continue to improve and be able to articulate the validity of her efforts and attainments as we go along.  She’ll be great.  If one middle of the road passing grade helps her find her “how can I break this news so that they’re still pleased” skill set, so be it.

To be clear, I’m making up this parenting of a kid thing as I go along and the jury is out but we’ll see how it pans out over the next 20 years.  Fingers crossed.

Moving home – getting closer

I knew that I could push and push and come away with a phenomenal result. It was reasonable, there was precedent, I wasn’t being outrageous.
But… I thought about my man friend who’d spoken of the heartbreak and betrayal.

After the court date with Mr Staff Sergeant Pollyanna last week it was determined that with some fuzzy maths and a lot of luck, me and Missy can move home and have it transferred into my name.  I would have a place where, as I keep up with the very reasonable mortgage payments, nobody would be able to make me homeless again, ever.

One of the very reasonable conditions was that I raise a mortgage for the value of the outstanding loan amount and also an amount to pay off Mr P because one of the houses had more equity than the other.  Mr P got house #2 plus some money, I got house #1 plus the kiddo and a mortgage.  It is fair.

After chatting with divorced friends and hearing how their court dates went before I had to attend our court date, I was anecdotally advised that things would go well.  Very well.  You never feel like that on the day or in the days preceding.  One lady friend spoke of very high percentages, one man friend spoke of being ripped off and left with nothing.

There reached a moment near the end of the day where, from my perspective, I had a choice.  Mr P was becoming unreasonable and irrational on some personal matters which had been substantiated by the government in relation to our daughter.

I knew that I could push and push and come away with a phenomenal result.  It was reasonable, there was precedent, I wasn’t being outrageous.

But… I thought about my man friend who’d spoken of the heartbreak and betrayal.  It coalesced in my mind in an almost intangible way that I had an opportunity to display compassion and not leave the other party feeling humiliated.  I had no requirement or responsibility to show compassion but I was impressed that it was the right thing.  Sure we could have more, but we had enough to set up a new home.  I conceded the point deliberately.  We all agreed.  We metaphorically shook hands through our representatives.  Face was saved by the other party.  Nobody was humiliated.  Nobody was homeless.  Nobody had reasonable claim on feeling hard done by.

Since that decision, which was a deliberate decision and based upon the two conversations with friends, held at different times and under differing circumstances, something great has happened.

We have been able to raise the mortgage on my salary alone.  I received the news today.

More than that, for the first time in years, I feel safe.  Really, I haven’t felt safe in years.  I was scared in my own home most of my days, when we left I was scared of retribution or people (a particular person) lurking and causing harm.

Something settled.  It is an unusual and peculiar sensation.  A crushing weight lifted off my clavicle, I can breathe, I am not scared to take something to the bin outside.

It is a great feeling.

The natural woman in me wanted to push, to punish Mr P, to see how he felt being made homeless.  It was what he deserved.  He deserved no mercy.

I am glad it listened to that  more reasonable instinct, that still and small voice.  So much good is coming from it.

Listen to your instincts.  Follow your gut.  Actively make decisions.  It’s a great life if we continue choosing our path rather than bobbing along.

Yesterdays Court Date

Financial Application day came and went and we have a great piece of news, Missy and I.

The handsome and charming Mr Staff Sergeant Pollyanna and I had the opportunity to visit with each other for a while yesterday from across different sides of the court house building. We were scheduled to be at court for between 1 and 2 hours and ended up being there for over 8 hours.  It was put to us that this needed resolving “today” – halleluiah!!! – by a very formidable and knowledgeable judge.  She was not messing around.  “I have most of the day available, I fully intend to see this matter resolved, Mr Pollyanna’s offer – although now rejected and put to one side – was never going to fly, [she actually said never going to fly!], Mrs Pollyanna’s offer is very reasonable and I encourage you to work within that framework, to come back to court would double your costs on what you have paid so far and the return you would gain from coming back to court again may well not warrant the investment”.

So, after much to and fro, and after a few fibs from the other party which were quickly put to rest by the legal representatives, and after much consternation and bluster but no death threats from the other party to this one, which was a refreshing change let me tell you, we appear to have reached a mutually dissatisfactory agreement which to me is a good sign that we both got out of it as much as we could and were required to compromise.

We won!  If I can arrange a mortgage – knock on wood – Missy and I get to move home, back to the matrimonial home, on or around the 2nd of April 2017.

There are reasons for the completion date which are very valid.  The original date was going to be 1st of April but I asked them to amend it so that it wouldn’t sound like a prank.

When I shared the news with Missy, who did not know about the Clash of the Titans battle scheduled for December 5th, she became very tender hearted and emotional that we get to go home.

We have felt somewhat homeless.  My rental contract is on a periodic renewal, there is a lot of pressure to change nothing and care vigilantly for everything, we cannot put up pictures or make an accidental smudge.  Plus, even if we did everything correctly they could at any point give us two months notice to vacate so although being together is home enough we have always been aware that this is not a long term solution.  We’ve never been able to fully relax in to our temporary homes.

So, fingers crossed for the mortgage application process.  There is a plan b but we prefer plan a.  Here’s to Spring in our new home.

Court tomorrow

I have court in the morning with/against the handsome and charming Mr Pollyanna.

My prayers tonight therefore are running along the lines of “Dear Heavenly Father, please help me get my own way or lead me to something better…. and while you are at it could you help us stay safe”

This court date is the final opportunity we have to agree between ourselves.  After this, a Judge decides for us.  

Nobody I ever met looked forward to the breakdown of a marriage and nobody skips in to court but this is right for all parties concerned.  Mr Pollyanna was clearly unhappy and that rippled through the family.  

I am grateful to my girlfriends and blokes at work who treat me like a sister or daughter, who kept me held together with ballsiness, humour and compassion this week.  I really have tried to keep myself together, I hope it showed. 

I have great faith that this will work out.  I have had a priesthood blessing too from the Bishopric. It was soothing and supportive in this tumultuous time and I am grateful they offered this stiff-necked and overly-“I can do it n my own”-independent woman that service. 

So, this might be the last evening that I don’t know some of what the future holds.

Exciting, huh!

Stress Eating and Frock Buying

I wore my nice frock to the hen party, and the other nice frock is pillar box red which isn’t really a wedding colour.

So, I’ve noticed that I’m feeling bloated and lethargic.  It has nothing to do with the family pack of crisps/chips that I’ve helped consume in the past two weeks because nothing else on the planet had the umami taste that I needed to abate my crazy headedness.  Nothing whatsoever.  No sir-eeee.  Nothing, understand me! No-thing!

So, this weekend will be veg and fruit and smoothies and hot water bottles to sooth ailing tummies.  May go for a walk, or walk around the shops looking for a frock for a friends wedding next week.  I wore my nice frock to the hen party, and the other nice frock is pillar box red which isn’t really a wedding colour.  Everything else is in business grey which hardly communicates “So happy to be here, thanks for inviting me” does it.  So new frock shopping it is.  It’ll be a nice and refreshing weekend with a rare purchase thrown in for good measure.  Should be nice.