We have arrived! Welcomed by the community members at Queen’s, we were escorted to our new abode, a lovely flat overlooking a grassed area and some trees. It has now become our focal point from our lounge. Many prefer to have a TV, but given that we have decided not to have one in the flat, we wanted a vista which was dynamic and reflective. I think we have got a superb view, shown above.

We set to with the polishing of the windows, adding curtain poles, grouting cracks in the plaster and cleaning of the oven. Our military upbringing, ‘marching out’ of married quarters has certainly left an impression. If you are unsure what a military march out involves, the following article highlights the stress…

The most stringent elements of the clean are the walls, the carpets and the oven. These must be as good as new, cleaned to within an inch of their life.

There is a little trick that I can share with you. In holes in the wall where pictures have hung, use toothpaste as filler and then touch up with a magnolia vinyl finish tester paint pot. The rest is just damn hard graft.

I have ‘marched out’ of four quarters now, so I am fully aware of the expectations of those who inspect at the end. My first ever ‘march out’ clean as a newlywed wife was under the scrutiny of a white glove-wearing she-devil. Needless to say I failed the ‘march out’ as she opened the windows and gleefully wiped her white gloves along the inside of the seal only to reveal a spec of dirt.

“Off with her head,” she declared, and into deep cleaning purgatory I was sent. But now as an old hand, I knew what I’m up against and despite the damage to the environment, if you don’t want to be charged the earth by Defence Estates, bleach is your biggest ally.

from Salisbury Journal

We now have our standards we would expect, and so we clean walls, bathrooms and ovens to the required standard.

I recall one anecdotal story of a young English girl who entered a Kibbutz in Israel and was asked to go to the kitchen to clean some pots and pans. They were filthy: engrained with burnt grease, showing the history over the years it would seem. She drew in a big breath and started to scrub. She worked at it for some time: others went off out into the sun, but she continued to work at those pans. Eventually she was satisfied – they were shining. She left them in their designated place and joined the rest of the community. Some time later one of the leaders exclaimed that they had never, ever, seen such pans, such cleanliness.

It all depends on your standards.

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Today is the day that students received their GCSE results. All but one of my students from last year have reported success in reaching their target grade, one exceeding! This target grade was typically grade C. This notional minimum grade, set from the days of the O-Level examination, has now reached near apocalyptic significance. Without such a grade you ‘may be doomed’ and hence you are required to stay and achieve that grade (in Maths and English) until you have finished Sixth Form. The stress faced by students and teachers to ensure that ‘the’ grade has been reached is considerable…perhaps far too much for some.

What if God  wanted us to reach such a standard? Where would we be then?

I am so glad that God, in his grace, has given all that wish to accept it, the required qualification. We don’t need to stress or strive, just accept that his love is sufficient and that we are welcomed, accepted and loved. I wonder how many students today feel such acceptance and love if they have achieved grade D or below today. I have heard : your grades don’t define you as a person. You as a person exceed those grades for you have qualities which are unable to be tested.

We set ourselves standards, such as with cleaning the flat, or are set standards, as with examinations: what is more important is that God’s standard has been met and that we are loved.

3 thoughts on “Opportunities

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