Finding Peace in Anxious Times (Philippians 4:4–9)

When we were in our late 20s, my friends and I discussed what would help us feel like adults. Some thought marriage would do the trick. Others that parenthood would move us into adulthood. We even wondered if the death of our parents would finally make us feel we had entered the grown-up ranks. But as we got married, had children and mourned parents, we realized that adulthood is marked by something far more universal: worry. It’s not so much that youth is worry-free think back to the anxiety you felt over dating, homework, your future. But back then we found relief in knowing that the buck didn’t stop with us. But there comes a time when there is no one else, nowhere to pass the buck. Responsibility rests squarely at our feet. Once we take on the mantle of worry, it’s almost impossible to set it aside. After all, life never stops throwing curveballs at us: a spouse loses a job, a child is injured, a parent gets sick. The future seems more uncertain every day, leaving us with nagging questions: Are we putting away enough money to retire? How will we pay the mortgage next month? We also worry about the world we live in: What can we do about the suffering we see? Will we ever live in peace with one another? It’s human to grow anxious about what lies ahead. That’s why Paul gave the people of Philippi a message they needed to hear. They lived in a time of frequent disease, war and famine, so their future was tenuous and uncertain. But Paul wanted them to know that their lives were in the hands of a loving God who would give them peace. Notice that Paul didn’t say, “God will make all the bad stuff go away.” Instead, he promised believers that God would calm their fears and ease their spirits. He reminded them that they weren’t in charge, that they could safely place their worries in the hands of someone far bigger than themselves and trust that God would walk with them through whatever troubles came their way. I know a few people who have gone through terrible times, the death of a child, an unexpected divorce, a potentially fatal illness. All of them have said that even in the darkest, most difficult moments, they sensed God’s presence. Their pain and heartache didn’t go away, but they knew God was helping them stand up under it. They never lost the feeling that God was guarding their hearts. Their experiences remind us that we can talk to God about the things that lie heavy on our hearts. We can ask for the peace God offers. We can thank God for caring, for shouldering our burdens, for giving us comfort and rest even in our most difficult times. Indeed, having a God like this transcends our understanding. All we can do is open our hearts and receive him………….. Carla Barnhill………………….Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible

Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27). So for a worry-free life and the promise of peace in your heart come to Jesus…………………………………….Shirley Anne


Interesting work

I used to think my electrical work was very interesting and to be sure it was (and still is) but I am finding that is over the last twenty years, that I have found building work and construction interesting too. I say twenty years but in reality I have worked at building and construction almost as long as I did as an electrician and also a maintenance engineer. It is just that it didn’t major in my working life but now I am retired and for the latter couple of years before retirement I have been able to do more work in construction and building. I enjoy seeing my projects slowly coming along and the changes they make. We just had the first of our two May bank Holidays (I write on 7th), Monday being the holiday and although I could have just rested I decided to do some work on the concrete lintel my son had so kindly lifted in place for me. Essentially that meant cementing it in place and filling the gap above it with bricks and a cement mix (rather than mortar) so that when the supporting bars were removed the slab would be resting on it. That work was done on Monday (yesterday). Today I began by removing the three Acrow supports from the doorway area and then cementing in the gaps which couldn’t be filled until the first application had set. Once that part had been done I cut and fitted the wooden lintel on the inside behind it and wedged it in place with timber. I couldn’t complete that work as it required that some brickwork needed to be done first.

Looking at the picture you might think it isn’t parallel with the concrete one behind it but it is just the perspective. Their bottom edges however are not at the same level, the wooden one is a little higher but it will get a piece of timber screwed to the bottom in order to seal the cavity between them and in order that the cavity can be filled with insulation too. The inward facing area will also be covered with timber to seal it off from the room. Actually there will be a box section along that wall at ceiling level to hide all the pipework and electrical wiring anyway. At the top of the stone steps outside there was a hole in the brickwork. That happened because of my work on the inside making space for the concrete lintel so I had to fill that in today also. Whilst doing that job I spread some fine concrete over the riser of the top step to fill in the stonework which had been pushed back a little sometime in the past. It could not be pushed back out again in case it became damaged. The other sides of the riser can be seen from beneath and it will be concreted over to level it out. There will be other filling in to do on those steps and on the slab at some point later on……………………….Shirley Anne


You’ve all heared this joke in one form or another I am sure but here goes….

Mother polar bear had spent winter in hibernation and had given birth to just the one cub. They had to leave the den so mother bear could find something to eat. It was the cub’s first outing and he tagged along behind mom keeping up as best he could. After the first stop he called out to momma ‘Am I a polar bear like you?’, ‘Yes dear you are’ came the reply.’Oh, okay said the cub’ then off they went again. At the second stop the cub piped up again, ‘Am I really a polar bear?’ His mom replied once more, ‘Yes my pet you are’. This happened several times along their journey when the mother bear turned to the cub and asked ‘Why do you keep asking if you are a polar bear?’ The cub replied, ‘Cos I’m bl**dy freezing!’

Okay it is an old joke but it came to mind this morning (Monday 6 May) as I was out on my early walk. It was as you might say ‘bl**dy’ freezing! Well perhaps a little of an exaggeration but it certainly wasn’t warm. The temperature was hovering around 7 deg C but it was the biting wind which cooled everything down. Fortunately I was wearing enough to stay warm so I was alright. It was the Bank Holiday Monday and I was going to take the day off from working on the project but as my eldest son had lifted the concrete lintel into place on Saturday evening I decided instead to at least bed it in. Part of the lintel lay beneath the stone slab which sits at the top of the stone stairway and the rest lay beneath the stone step leading into the kitchen on top of that slab. I mixed some fine cement rather than mortar for that would be stronger and I set in some bricks to seal the gap between the slab and the top of the lintel. I also cemented in the lintel itself. When the concrete had set I would be able to remove the ‘Acrow’ supports supporting the slab. Once the main part of that work was done I stopped work for the day. It was still only 11 o’clock and I had the rest of the day to myself……………………..Shirley Anne

Not waiting

I guess you could call me an impatient person but not in everything. Certain things do aggravate me and annoy and for those I get impatient but the reality is I have more patience than even I believe. Whether this is due to my getting older or being influence by my Christian faith could be debatable but I rather think both apply. When things don’t go quite to plan I sometimes feel angry but as the old saying goes it is better not to worry about those things over which you have no control but concentrate on those you have and know the difference between them. In my latest project I felt I was being held back because of one small obstacle and it really was a small obstacle. As I couldn’t speed up the process I carried on with other just as important tasks. If you’ve been reading my latest posts you would know I was waiting for help to lift a concrete lintel over a door opening. My eldset son told me he would help when he had the spare time but within a few days at most. Yesterday (May 4 th) he called the house phone in an attempt to contact me as he had been trying to all day long on my mobile phone. Both of us couldn’t understand why he wasn’t able to get through for my phone was on and active and with me. It didn’t matter now that he was able to reach me at last and he told me he would be along around 8 pm. Well true to is word he came and it literally took him less than a minute to raise it into position almost completely without my help! He stayed a while and chatted with E and myself before returning home. His work commitments and his wife and daughter take most of his time and rightly so. I couldn’t thank him enough for doing that small thing for me which would enable me to get the work around the doorway finished. The coming week or so would hopefully see the new door installed. The picture shows the lintel after the work I had done on Tuesday which was to fill-in the gaps from Monday’s work. More on that tomorrow.

Today, Sunday, I spent an hour or so potting-on a plant and doing a little garden maintenance before spending time on the gym equipment. The rest of the day was spent resting.

Shirley Anne

The first of two

It was the first of the two long weekend breaks we have in May. The first and the last Mondays are both considered a national day off work for those who are not self-employed. In that respect it didn’t affect me whilst I was self-employed and even less so now I am retired. Each day is pretty much the same as the next throughout the year. I do take breaks at the weekend and occasionally at other times depending on how I am feeling and that is usually during my busier working days. My current project is one such case where a lot of the initial work has been strenuous. Digging up the floor and reconstructing it in concrete and replacing the ceiling panelling for instance is strenuous work when one has no labourer other than one’s self! So on this weekend (4 th – 6 th May) I didn’t work on the project on Saturday and may leave off the work until Tuesday morning. It all depends on how I feel. I did however get some gardening duties out of the way today (Saturday). There were some shrubs that required pruning back as they had become overgrown to the detriment of other plants nearby and of course there was the perpetual removal of weeds great and small which grow at phenominal rates if left too long. I could spend all day just weeding then have to return the next day for those I missed! I tend to pluck them out as I come across them.It was after lunch I decided to mow the lawn and at last I have gotten used to the controls on this my third use of the new machine. It is partly work and partly pleasure riding on the mower instead of having to push one along. In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours on the patio in the bright sunshine. It was only spoiled by a wind blowing from the north though I was almost completely shielded from it and it wasn’t that strong anyway. It did however temper the temperature and kept it at 11 deg C. In the shelter from the wind and in full sunshine it was much warmer.Before returning indoors I gave the garden plants a good watering especially those in the long border (shown on the left in an old picture) sheltered beneath that huge tree in my neighbour’s garden which can miss getting rained upon once the tree is in leaf and the wind isn’t favourable……………Shirley Anne




Five hours

I didn’t remember anything after nine-fifteen in the evening on Thursday. After a much needed shower I was in bed just after nine and fell asleep almost immediately. It was the work I had put in on Thursday which knocked me out. I woke up just before the alarm which was set to four o’clock as I wanted to take my walk before five. Another pleasant walk with little or no wind blowing though I had to keep my hood up for a short time when it rained. It was only light rain which was good. I returned home by six-forty and ate breakfast. I spent an hour or so relaxing after breakfast and didn’t change into my working clothes until almost eight-thirty. I spent a full three and a half hours working on the project. My aims were to instal the wiring for the new lighting circuit and remove the old installation. I wanted to switch the supply over to the new wiring ready for connecting everything up at a later date. I wanted to finish plating the ceiling with the new plasterboard and instal the insulation behind it though I knew there was one area along the back wall which I wouldn’t have time to do. It is the wall facing you in the picture. That is because there isn’t a joist close enough to the wall to fix the small strip of plasterboard to fill in the gap. I needed time to come up with a solution though I am thinking of pushing those cables up and boxing them in which would solve the problem. I had to drill holes in the plasterboard ready for the new lights to be inserted later. I also had to rig up a temporary light in the room once the existing circuit had been disconnected and removed. I found a length of flexible cable which was around ten metres in length and also an old fluorescent fitting measuring around a metre in length and would use them for the temporary light. I would plug it into one of the power outlets on the Patio and would leave it there until it became in the way of doing other things. I got the majority of all that work done after three and a half hours at which time I had a snack for lunch. An hour later I spent a further hour and a half completing my set tasks. Five hours in total. The concrete lintel is still waiting to be lifted into place and until it is done I cannot finish the brickwork above it nor install the wooden lintel behind it together with the brickwork on the inside. Only when they are installed will I be able to remove the Acrow supports. Perhaps my son would be able to find the time on Saturday to help lift that lintel. I was sure hoping so.

Shirley Anne


More on the project

It was Thursday morning and my day to do the weekly shopping but first I had to cast my vote in the local elections. As usual I was up early to do the shopping and as the polling station opened at 7 o’clock I decided to go there first. I was there at seven and they were still setting up! I was the first one there. Soon I was on my way to the supermarket and was back home before eight-thirty. After putting everything away I had a drink then was off out again to purchase the wood preserver I had forgotten to purchase the previous day and whilst at the builders merchant I purchased some plasterboard sheets for the ceiling together with the special screws and the joint tape which has to be applied before the ceiling is skimmed with plaster. I had received a late-night call from my eldest son who informed me that he couldn’t come along as planned to help lift the lintel in place because his wife had made other plans for the day. It didn’t matter though I did feel a little let down but that’s children isn’t it? Children? He’s actually 36 years old! Anyway I thought it best to get on with other things, hence the material purchases. On my return home I began by removing all the temporary coverings that were on the ceiling and then removed countless nails from the joists. I then systematically brushed the wood preserver over all the ceiling timbers. Evidence of historical woodworm infestation showed up in a couple of places on the joists but fortunately they were small patches and hadn’t spread. That would have been a nightmare to repair had there been serious damage to the timbers for they support the kitchen above. Anyway a good soaking of preservative will ensure no further problems, especially once the plasterboard is installed to seal it all off. Much of the timber had previously been treated with ‘Creosote’ which is no longer in use these days. Once that had been done and after lunch I decided to install two of the plasterboard panels but to do the others I would need to instal the electrical wiring for the recessed downlights and also slide the insulation over those I have fitted. I also have to drill the holes in the boards in which the lights will fit.

There had been a hole in the wall behind the left-hand panel in the picture at the back of which was a ventilation brick on the outer wall of the cavity. I had to block it off in case insects, especially wasps and bees get in and make a nest behind the plasterboard. The two identical panels were installed in different aspects to save wastage. They are both 3 ft x 4 ft (you do the conversion to metric). The one on the right looks larger but it isn’t. That was pretty much all I did that day.

Shirley Anne

Still waiting

It was May 1 st, a dull and damp morning but there was hardly any wind at all, say 1 or 2mph. A fine rain was falling as I left the house five minutes before five o’clock to go for my walk. I had walked two miles before I could lower the hood on my jacket. It stayed pretty much dry after that and as the morning progressed it even brightened up for a spell. It didn’t last though and the rest of the day remained dull but at least it was warm. It didn’t matter to me for I was going to spend a few hours inside the room on my project. I had phoned my eldest son yesterday to ask if he could help me instal the concrete lintel as I couldn’t do it by myself. Unfortunately he couldn’t at that time but said he would call me later. However he forgot due to his work commitments (he is a police officer). I couldn’t call on his brother to help as he lives in another town, actually the city of Manchester over forty miles away. My eldest lives just less than three miles away. Anyhow I called him again this morning and asked if he was available on Thursday at any time. He would send me a message giving me the time he would be able to come which would probably be in the afternoon. So the work of installing the lintel was left on hold again. I wanted to do some work however and decided to fill in the ends of the cavity walls where the old wooden door frame had been installed. To do that I had to mix some mortar by hand in a large bucket and fill in the gaps with pieces of cut brick. A few years ago we had the cavity walls filled with insulation which was blown in through numerous holes that had to be drilled in the seams. However in this part of the walls the insulation hadn’t completely filled the cavity so I filled the cavity using polystyrene which we had stored up in the loft area in a bag. The polystyrene was in small pieces which had been used to cushion articles sent through the post and would be ideal for the job. Years ago polystyrene was used in cavity walls as insulation but new fire regulations prevented it from being used thereafter. As it is extremely unlikely to catch fire in this instance (at the bottom of a wall which is isolated and remote from any heat source) it would be alright to use it. Once I had filled in the gaps and relaced a couple of bricks on one side I rendered both sides with fine concrete. That is why I didn’t ask my son to call today as the repairs had to remain undisturbed whilst they dried out. The concrete is the dark section in each picture.

E had been busy doing other things so I decided to eat out for a change and then purchase some fibreglass insulation to go inside the ceiling spaces between the joists when I instal a new plasterboard ceiling. Whilst out I forgot to purchase the wood preserver to use on the ceiling timbers when I strip off the old ceiling. I will have to purchase it next time I am out. The guy came yesterday afternoon to measure up for a new plastic door and frame. He told me someone else would call next week to make a more detailed measurement by which time the lintels should hopefully be in place. The door would cost me £600 fitted.

Shirley Anne



I wanted to do a little more on the outside toilet project but had to stop for a lack of assistance. It was approaching lunch time and I reluctantly downed tools for the day. I hadn’t started work until after eight o’clock and my first objective was to remove the outer door and its frame in order to fit yet another ‘Acrow’ support bar beneath the stone slab and in fact had to instal that before I could remove the frame. First of all though the door itself had to be removed so that I could safely remove the frame. Many years ago I manufactured the door and installed it together with the frame. It proved difficult when removing the frame for I had made sure it was going to stay there! Over the years the fixing bolts rusted and resisted my efforts to take the frame down but after a while it was done though I had to saw the frame in a couple of places beforehand. The frame was so stubborn to remove a couple of bricks came out with it on one side.†

You can see the spaces at top left. The next task was to chisel away the bricks on the left of the other doorway to allow the installation of the concrete lintel at a slightly higher position than it had previously been installed.

On the right in the lower picture about halfway down the bricks stop. They appear white in the picture. The lintel will sit on them on that side. On the opposite side you can see where the red bricks stop before the next one steps back. The lintel will sit ontop of that stepped-back brick. The one above it had to be chiselled to make it possible. The one beneath it will be filled in with a piece of brick. It was at that point I had to stop for there was no-one to assist me in lifting the lintel up and there was no way I could do it alone or even attempt to. Before the work around the doorway could continue that lintel would have to be in place. I could have mixed some mortar and done some patching up but that wasn’t worth doing. I would be mixing a lot of mortar later and it could all be done at the same time. Well I potted around for a time sweeping up and disposing of the old timber then I salvaged as much of the door furniture that I could, the hinges and the bolts which were all in good condition save one small bolt which I abandoned. I had phoned my eldest son for his assistance but he wasn’t available as he was at work that afternoon. I was expecting the guy later in the afternoon who would be measuring for a new door. It would have been better had the lintels been installed but I knew at what height they would be. Until I could get them in place I would have to start on something else like preparing for a new ceiling for instance.

Shirley Anne

Outside toilet project

Yes I know I have already written posts about the project but I thought I’d give the project its title this time. It was the last Monday of April and we had just gotten over the bad weekend weather courtesy of ‘Storm Hannah’ when we had very high winds and lots of rain. Now it was the opposite, calm, dry, warm and later sunny. None of that mattered to me at least until late afternoon when I took the opprtunity to relax in the sunshine after working on and off all day. First though I went for a walk since I hadn’t been able to for a few days. It made a change not getting blown all over the place and the walk was very pleasant indeed. On my return and an hour after breakfast I put on my working gear and a hat too for I was about to resume work on the project knowing there would be dust and debris falling. The work was to remove what was left of the wooden door frame, the top and the two sides then begin to remove both of the wooden lintels that somebody many years ago had installed. The door frame proved a little difficult at first as it had been held in place with cast-iron spikes deep into the brickwork but the crowbar was no match for them! The frame itself was showing signs of rot but was still strong and substantial. The two lintels however were in poor condition and the inner one had signs of woodworm which had spread to some of the ‘temporary’ ceiling covering nearby. Fortunately the main joists had not been infested. All the woodwork would be receiving preservative later and before the new ceiling would be installed. Before I could remove the lintels I would have to prop up the stonework above. I did that on my return from a small shopping expedition after I had removed the door frame. I purchased three downlights (recessed fittings) for the new ceiling when it is installed then visited the builders merchant to purchase the two lintels, one of concrete (for outside) and the othern timber (for inside)

Before returning home I visited Dobbies garden centre to browse and have a coffee. It was lunch time so I waited until after lunch to recommence work. Now before I talk about the lintels I will show you what they were supporting. There is a stone stairway at the rear of the house and a stone slab at the top with a stone step into the kitchen which is above the room I am converting.

On the left is the stone step beneath the kitchen door. Although it is there we seldom use it. Now that is one heavy step and one heavy slab. Below is a picture of them from beneath and you can see the two ‘Acrow’ supports I had to instal before removing the old lintels and the bricks above them supporting the slab and the step above.

They were supported to some extent once the lintels had been removed but only just. That is why I placed the Acrow bars there before removing them. They will remain until the new lintels are in place. I will need help to lift the concrete one into position. Here is a detail of part of the brickwork and the gap left when the lintels were taken out.

The dark coloured timber is part of the wooden door frame for the temporary outer door which will be removed after a new door is installed to the room. Speaking of that I arranged for someone to come and measure up and give me a quote for a new plastic door and frame. They would be coming the following day. I don’t expect that will be cheap! Anyway the timber above needs removing at least at the nearest end for now so that the new concrete lintel can be installed slightly higher than the old one was. So there you have it, progress is being made slowly.

Shirley Anne