Thursday, 31 December 2009

Not that kind of excitement please.

Our youngest daughter is prone to coughs, colds, sneezes and wheezes.  She has been since she was a baby so we weren't too alarmed when she started coughing last week.  It is just what she does or so we thought. 

We had some friends for Boxing Day tea and one of them said that if it were her she would get our daughter looked at.  Her son is asthmatic and she recognised the wheeze.  So we phoned the out-of-hours Drs who, instead of telling us to dose her up with Calpol, told us to bring her in to be checked out.  My husband took her up and we fully expected her to be home that night. 

Well an ambulance ride and 5 days stay in Hospital she is back with us.  She was transferred to the Main Hospital in the region to be checked out by a Paediatrician.  They took blood, checked her breathing, and her oxygen levels which were too low for her to return home.

Her attitude to being in Hospital was remarkable; allowing the Drs, Nurses, Physios to do with her as they asked except at night when they tried to give her medicine through the Canular.  Then, from the depth of her sleep she struggled, moaned, told mummy off and squirted medicine over the Nurse.  In the morning she was back to her compliant self and had no recollection of the events.

During her stay they checked her Oxygen levels but they didn't sustain when they took her off the Oxygen Mask.  During the night it came out by mistake and her levels were still good, so the Nurse didn't put it back on.  When the Dr came round in the afternoon she was pleased with her progress and told her she could go home. 

We are all so pleased and thank God for all the help we have had.  Also for all the prayers people have offered.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Good Friend Remembered

I am at the stage in life when a lot of my friends (and family) are hitting 40.  I thought this stage would never come but it has.  A few years ago a group of people from our previous church celebrated their 40th Birthdays by going abroad and doing a spot of White-Water-Rafting.

This event caused my husband and a friend of ours to discuss what they would do for their 40th birthdays which were a month apart.  Well the years have gone by but our friend is no longer alive.  He was taken to be with the Lord when he was only 38 years old.  Today would have been his 40th birthday.  I have been reflecting on him, his faith in God and his wacky sense of humour.  He and my husband shared that, often the sense of the absurd would overtake both of them and often at the most inopportune moments.  I have also been thinking of his widow and their son; she is remarkable.  God surely blessed us with this friend and I really wish he were still with us so that we could somehow celebrate his birthday.

So my husband will be celebrating his birthday in January but not as was planned.  He, instead, has chosen to have a party and share the time with a whole group of other friends and family.  And he will take time out to have a quiet time reflecting  our friend and what would have been.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No offence meant.

I read a great article today by Tim Keller.  I have been easily offended by people in the past (there are some people I still take a lot of what they say the wrong way!)  In terms of Church life the nature of my husband's job can make me more sensitive to negative comments.  In the past I have made sure I withdrew from people telling myself that I don't have to listen.  Nowadays, I try to be more calm about it and wonder if there is any truth in what they say.  I am learning that I am not always right about everything, that others have their own opinion, and that you can be friends with people and agree to disagree. Life is a lot easier that way. 

I am also learning that just because I am a Pastor's wife doesn't mean I need to put myself in an Ivory Tower and stay away from the rest of the world.  Ivory is beautiful but cold, hard and not particularly comfortable.  If I conduct my relationships in that way I am not going to get far.  I want my tower to be soft and warm and big enough for others to share; and I want to be able to share theirs as well.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Embracing my curls

But maybe not that much!  I love Ecological-friendly products but also like a good bargain.  More often than not the two are at opposite ends of the spectrum!  I don't like the thought of all the chemicals I put on my hair (face and body for that matter) to make it look half-way decent.  I have naturally curly hair and my no-products days are long gone.  I don't think bicarb of soda and cider vinegar are going to do much for my barnet either.  So I have been looking for an alternative.  I am discovering natural products are very expensive.  I have found a local company that makes shampoo (whoops sorry cleanser) and conditioners etc and will give them a whirl.  The only problem is the only styling product they sell is wax and I am not sure that will work for me. 

I have discovered products made by companies called Curl Cremes, Crown Pride, Kinky-Curly and Curl Junkie to name a few.  They are all American companies and whilst buying on-line is a lot cheaper, the shipping costs are high and the alternative of buying them through a UK website makes the products themselves more expensive.  I will try some out (in fact, my Curl Jelly arrived from Darcy Botanicals today) but will have to psych myself up to spend that much agauin on hair products.  Maybe, I should just try to make my own .......

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Hey, good looking

I have 2 daughters.  They are both beautiful and clever.  I am not in anyway bias!  They have completely different takes on life already at their young age.

My eldest girl likes to look good, she is only 8 years old.  She is interested in fashion and how clothes go together.  I have only taken an interest for myself in the past few years.  Growing up I was never interested in clothes, hair or makeup.  My mum wasn't so I took my lead from there.  I think together my girl and I will learn how to be dressed well without it taking over her whole personality.

My other daughter on the other hand is more Marmalade Atkins or to use a more recent example, Ugly Betty!  She loves a riot of different colours and wears most of them at the same time!

I love them and pray that I can help them grow to be confident, godly people whether they are immaculately dressed or cute and quirky.  I will probably read this post in 5 years time and find the positions have been reversed.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Please lay the table ..

.. I asked my daughters yesterday. I just meant put out the knives, forks and make sure that the mats are all in the correct place. We were having guests so I didn't take much notice of what they were doing as I was putting the finishing touches to the dinner.

I noticed that they were going backwards and forwards from the Utility Room and Dining Room rather a lot but thought nothing of it. When I went into the Dining Room the table was beautiful. They had discovered the Christmas Runner for the table and found out some serviettes. All the knives and forks were the right way around and they had put the mats out symmetrically. The candles were decoratively placed in the middle of the table. They had done a lovely job and it was far more imaginative than if I had done the job.

Well done girls for your creative spirits. Please don't ever lose it.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Heaven and Hell, fact or fiction?

Recently, I read this article posted by a friend on Facebook. It caused to make me think about why I believe in Heaven and why that belief gives me hope in this world.

As a Christian I believe my Salvation (and therefore my place in Heaven) is through the grace of God. I love the passage from Ephesians 2:1-10 which explains it better than I could. Jesus spoke a lot about Heaven and that is another reason that I believe it is a real place. He told the thief on the cross that he would go to Paradise that day. He explained to the disciples about the place He was going to prepare for those who believe in Him. Heaven to me is a place that I will go to when I die. I will serve and worship Jesus in my perfected self forever. I will not fail Him by my sinful ways, I will not struggle to come to terms with what my life brings my way, I will not cause others pain or hurt, I will always be joyful and many other things. I look forward to the place which is Heaven and can't wait to see how God has designed it.

I don't like to think of Hell but I also believe that is a real place. I believe with my whole heart that God is a God of love but He has other characteristics as well and one of those is Judge. It is not something I think about much but it is true (I believe). He is a righteous Judge and He will do what is right. If an earthly Judge has to make rulings on wrong-doing how much more so will the heavenly Judge. Sin cannot go unpunished and if we don't accept that Jesus took the penalty then we will have to do so ourselves.

For me believing in a real Heaven and Hell gives me hope in this life. When things are tough I can hold onto the believe that God is Love and He will do what is right. The realities also make me more aware of the need for me to go, be a light in a dark world and to tell people around me the good news of Jesus.

If you agree please let me know. If you don't then let me know as well. Please point me to Bible verse whatever you think so I can learn more.

Umm, truth being revealed?

I am sure we will find out eventually what the truth behind the intelligence that sent us into war against Iraq is. I remembered I was uneasy at the time. OK, that is a slight understatement. I was against us going to war. I also remember having conversations with friends who tried to assure me that our then PM would not take our country into a war without basis or information that warranted it.

I have also learnt in the intervening years that whilst I may not agree with the Politics that sent our Military into war, I have to support those men and women. I am sure if I took a survey amongst the Military people I know I would get a wide range of different views on this topic.

So we wait for this report to be published in 2011 and then we may have a better idea what was really known about the WMD.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Just to say ....

... the party was lovely. The girls (all 8 of them) were excited. I was pleased that I managed to walk 7 of them home from school safely. We had drinks and biscuits, then the birthday girl opened her presents and loved them all; including the nail varnish and lip-gloss one friend had bought her.

We then played a variety of different games with the usual kind of reactions from the participants. Some were just excited to join in, others complained a little whilst one had complete dramas when things didn't go her way. The other girls came around her and made sure she was OK. We managed to get through it though and everyone seemed happy at the end. The party food looked like a plague of locusts had descended by the end but all went away well fed. And I seemed to get away with a slice of cake and bag of chocolate buttons instead of party bags! Phew.

We shut the door behind the last guest and the peace descended. I didn't realise 8 girls could make so much noise.

As a family we went into operation 'tidy-up' to make the home presentable for the people coming to the Bible Study.

One less party to do. The next one is in January when 'the man about the house' celebrates the big 40. I am still getting over the shock that he has asked for a party.

Friday, 20 November 2009

I dreamed a dream

Apparently, it is about 8 months ago that Susan Boyle first hit the UK TV screens. She came onto the 'Britian's got Talent' show and was written off because of her appearance. It was clear from the camera panning across the audience and judges exactly what they thought of her. It changed when she opened her mouth to sing. She sang 'I dreamed a dream' from Les Miserables. She wanted to become a famous singer like Elaine Paige.

Yesterday, it was reported that she has the biggest pre-order sales for an album on Amazon in its 14 year history. I hope the out-working of her dream works out really well for her.

I came across another dream the other day. From a very different lady. On the surface her dream was even more impossible that that of Susan Boyle. She was born in Africa and had about 1 year of education before being married at 11 years old to an abusive husband. Her life was changed and she began to dream. Her dreams have come true through hard work and determination. You can read her inspiring story here:

I should never say never again and gain inspiration from these stories. I can dream a dream too.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

For reasons that don't need explaining at this conjuncture it took me until I was 38 years old to have the confidence to experiment with different hairstyles. Last year I had my very long (and very out of condition) curly hair cut to a lovely round short style.

Yesterday, I had my hair cut again but have gone even shorter. I love it. But what I love the most is the confidence to try different styles without having major traumas about it. If I have a style I don't like then who cares, it will grow back. I wish I had found this confidence years ago.

Monday, 9 November 2009


For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

The full text of the poem contains the words (in bold) that we quote each year at Remembrance Day Services. Yesterday afternoon, we watched the match of the Cadets, Scouts and Brownies. Later on the girls and myself went along to the War Memorial in town to watch the ceremony there. As we waited in the cold it struck me how much these men and women sacrificed for us; and that they still do.

Whatever, I think of the current political decisions that led our troops into war once again, I must support them and their families. I now live in a Military town and this is even more important than ever. These people have chosen this job and in doing so protect the interests of our Country. I am proud to stand by them.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Rediscovering Trust

Last week we were on holiday and had a lovely time. We came back Saturday and had already made the decision that we would attend a different church on the Sunday morning. (We were going to take the Sunday evening off but the girls wanted to go as they didn't have to go to school on the Monday!)

We went to the church that meets across the road from us. When we moved to the town it met about 10 minutes walk away but they needed a bigger building. So now this town has two Churches either side of the road. When we got to church the children were dropped off in the Children's Church; we signed them in and were given half of a tagging system (which is still in my bag!) We then went back to the main church. It was good to be part of a larger church for a while again - no anonymity for us though as many recognised my husband and some knew me. We sat back and worshipped with the singing, praying and were encouraged by the testimonies of God working in the hearts of other Christians.

The message spoke to my heart. The pastor spoke from Judges 7 - Gideon choosing the army to fight the Midianites. God in His will whittled the men down to 300; according to the pastor the Israelite army was at the odds of 450 to 1. An impossible task indeed. We are intelligent 21st Century people and we know that is never going to work. However, God stepped in and the Israelites defeated the Midianites. The pastor encouraged us to think of areas in our lives where we needed to rediscover a trust in God. First in Salvation, then death and the section that spoke to me was living out the Christian life. At the moment I have a problem in my life that seems insurmountable. I truly cannot see any change. I have reacted in ways that haven't helped. The problem is my eldest daughter and her temper tantrums. I love her but I don't know how to stop them. This morning one was triggered because we told her that the school uniform required her to have grey trousers (she wanted black). This piece of information sent the breakfast bowl and cup of milk across the table. I am worn out by the length of time this has been going on for (many years in one form or another). Maybe, God allowed us to go to the other church just so we could hear that. It is impossible for us but He can defeat the tempers and bring back the delightful daughter that every one else sees. And if that doesn't happen then He can give me the courage to face this 'army'. I need to trust God and not just when the circumstances change.

There are other areas that the sermon spoke to but for now that is enough soul-bearing.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The blogging habits of the man indoors.

My husband uses the Internet for a myriad of reasons. He emails, he keeps up-to-date with news, theology, Christian Thinking, music, he orders things from the Internet, etc.

He also uses the Internet to build and maintain his friendships. He has a group of very good and close friends, without them he would flounder and sink (especially this year!). He keeps in touch with one friend from his Bible College days. They mourn, commiserate, laugh, insult each other, tease out theological truths etc. The large bulk of their friendship is conducted via the Internet due to the geographical distance between them.

One thing they started about a year ago is to post on their blogs songs that they like - they posted 25 each. After that they have posted 15 books. They take it in turns and write a little blurb as to why they like the song or book and/or what it means to them. Apparently, they have a lot of other catergories ready for future blogging. I am quite impressed by persistence in these particular blogs.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Another Confession (perhaps I should become Catholic!)

Oh, dear. One of my daughters whines a lot. She can wake up whining. She can go to bed whining. She can whine about breakfast. She can whine about dinner. About everything. About anything. Well, you get the idea with that.

(A digression: We went to her Parent's Evening last night and spoke to her teacher who described a happy, enthusiastic, cheerful, friendly, clever, intelligent child I am pleased to report.)

Today, I picked her up from school and she was complaining of feeling ill; not an uncommon event. I have to say I wasn't entirely convinced. The little smiles (you know the ones) weren't helping me either!

We got home and the whining carried on. The monologues of 'How nobody understands.' etc etc etc. And the volume got louder. A sign she isn't feeling that unwell usually. She kept saying she was going to be sick. My children have a blue-print for being ill (one that they worked out together on a subliminal level): They go off their food, they get a slight temperature, they are quiet, listless and need to snuggle on the sofa. She had decided to rewrite the blue-print so I didn't think she was really ill. Until, that was, she was actually sick.

And then I felt really bad. The mummy-guilt kicked in at full throttle. My girl was poorly and I had ignored her. I have told her that the whining will be like the boy who cried Wolf and that is what happened today. I am hoping that we can use this incident as a way to help her out of the whining.

At the moment I feel like parenting will be added to my list of failures. I really need that holiday we are due to go on on Saturday. Ho, hum.

At a tangent: If anyone has any tips on how to divert the habit then I will gratefully receive them.

Monday, 19 October 2009


I am reading through the Bible in a year. The scheme was devised by a friend of a friend. Basically, we started at Genesis and will finish in Revelation. I have found it good but also extremely challenging. The past 15 months of my life have been full of massive adjustment, and through some of the most difficult parts I was stuck in the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. I have found them hard, I have questioned the relevance of some of the more technical sections for Christianity today and I have come through reading them with lots of questions. I found it hard to find much joy in them.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I started the New Testament the other day. Am I the only Christian who struggles to make parts of the Old Testament make sense? I can't align the parts when God calls for destruction of peoples etc with the commandment not to murder.

If anyone, has any insight I would love to hear it. If anyone, feels the same way then please tell me. If you feel I am on the verge of becoming a liberal then please be gentle with me.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Our new pet ......

Here is Syd and the story behind her.

My youngest daughter is desperate to own a pet. I don't want one. I think we will have one when she is old enough to take more responsibility in looking after it. Also, I am not a pet lover.

Today, she asked for one for her birthday (which isn't for a few months) and I gave her the usual speal about Mummy not having time to look after it. Daddy is also too busy. When you are older we will think about it. etc etc etc. She cried and expressed her upset.

A little while later she went to our Utility Room where we keep all the craft material. I heard her say 'If I can't have a real one then I will make myself a pet.' So that is what she did. My wonderfully imaginative girl made herself a pet mouse along with a cage.

I wish I had her take one life. She didn't let a minor inconvenience get in the way of her desire for a pet. She found a way around the problem. I hope and pray this is how she carries on through life. My 6 year old daughter has a lot to teach me.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Prawns, mangos and margins around your field.

It was our harvest at church this morning. In our church we have all vegetable, fruit and harvested produce; there isn't a tin or packet in sight. Most of the food is home-produced give or take the odd mango or prawn.

We read from Leviticus 19:9-13

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.

We were asked to think what the margins in our lives were? Have I left space for those in need. (In particular, we were asked to think about the charity Compassion who work to get sponsorship for children we need the money for basics such as education and medical treatment.) So, I don't own a field but a decent amount of money comes into our home each month, I have skills that could be used to help others, could I make time to give doing something for people more needy etc, etc? As a Christian God has called me to look after fellow-believers and also those in my community.

I shouldn't do these things to make myself look good but because I serve a big God. I do them to give Him glory. Selfishness will never draw people to Jesus but maybe a kind word in season or a gift of time or money might help. Then I would need to be ready to give a word about why I do these things. I should give because Jesus has first given to me; through Him I have my salvation and a relationship with God.

So I better go and check my margins.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Body image and a timely post

I woke up this morning at my usual time and managed to make sandwiches for my daughters, wash-up dishes and begin the Lasagne for tea before I had my shower and breakfast at 8am. Whilst eating my breakfast I checked my emails and Facebook as normal. I flicked through some pictures of a friend who has just come back from a sunny holiday. She looked great wearing her bikini and had lost a tonne of weight.

I got despondent. What do I have to do to lose the tummy I hate so much? The pounds that creep on very gradually? Why do I have to eat like a Sparrow and exercise hours a day to have a flat tummy? Then I tell myself: You are not big; some of your clothes are a UK size 8 . Pull yourself together woman.

I took the girls to school and on the way home felt sad about the whole thing. I know that I will have to wake up an hour earlier to fit in a decent exercise programme, eat less and keep away from the few suppers a month I have. Blah, Blah, Blah.

Then I came home and finished reading a post on a blog I follow. All I can say is thanks God that it was there today. I needed to read it. I needed to be reminded. I needed to remember the times my girls and husband have told me I am beautiful. The times when my girls have told me that they love their cuddly mummy. In Christ I am a new person and I need to live with that each day. I know that isn't an excuse for over-eating and under-exercising but if I am doing the best I can then I need to let it go.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Family together-time

In our family we are creatures of habit. We have our dinner at 5.30pm and then afterwards we all have jobs to do. The girls take it in turns drying-up the dishes or vacuuming the floor in the living and dining rooms. My husband always washes up and I do whatever job I find to hand. After we have finished we usually sit and read a book or go straight to the bed-time routine.

Tonight, we decided to look up the holiday brochure that came today. I really thought my daughters were going to explode with excitement; they looked at the brochure with their dad as I checked websites on the computer. One of the girls couldn't sit down and was walking around the table saying 'I hope we can book it!' A few were already booked for the week we wanted them. They came upon a cottage that looked lovely; we checked where it was on the map, I looked at the website, the photos of the rooms looked like they would meet our standards and my husband phoned the owner. The week was free. Hurray, the excitement. We have booked a week's holiday.

The girls spent all they wash-time saying 'I chose it.' 'No, I chose it!' But who cares really we did it together and it was lovely for us all to be involved. We just need to sent off the money for our first booked holiday (eg, not going to stay with friends, family or his army!) in a long time. We can't wait and the Linen is provided in the cost which for me was an essential.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Country Mansion

So I exaggerate a little, but we spent a delightful afternoon at our friends place in the country sitting in their garden watching their chickens and duck potter around the garden. We were enthralled by the charming little pale fluffy new chick and admired their beautiful new kitten. We then were invited for tea and spent the whole of that time laughing at the cute little things our respective children said.

That is what true friendship is made of; a lovely time was had by all. We enjoyed the break from the daily grind and felt a little fortified to carry on.

Today, is another beautiful September day in England. Church is followed by lunch with all the members.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Prayer of the Nose-picker

I have funny daughters. Tonight during prayer time my youngest started off well; all deep and spiritual praying for a friend of ours who is going on a months Mission trip overseas. She then started on a strange verbal journey which went something like this: 'And God we pray for Mike Parker the Egyptian Meanie and Imogen the Nose-picker.' It was at this point we all erupted into giggles and her prayer was curtailed.

Oh, I don't know where she gets it all from. She is only 6, what on earth is she going to be like as she gets older.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A Piece of History

We have a wonderful family tradition in that we take it in turns to read a special book to our girls mostly on a Saturday night. They are usually special books to us, eg 'Paddington Bear', 'Little House on the Prairie', 'Wind in the Willows' to name a few. We take great delight in choosing which book we will read when it is our turn.

At the moment I am in the reading seat and we are reading 'No Mountain too High' - a biography about the English Missionary Gladys Aylward. It is a children's version but hard details are not left out (for instance: the bombing in her town in the Shansi Province). The girls are really enjoying it and take delight in reading the chapter headings to see what is coming next.

Tonight, we read about a Missionary called David Davies who booked Gladys into a Conference in order for her to have some rest. (Nowadays, some of us choose to go for a spa day but that is a whole other post!) Many years ago when my husband was in Bible College a whole library of books were sent for the students to look through and take what they wanted. He picked up an old battered copy of poems covered in a brown envelope. The book was shelved for quite a number of years before my husband took a good look at the book. All the way through are very finely written notes about someone's incarceration in a variety of different POW camps in China. All though the book comments have been made beside the poems. This book belonged to David Davies; the same Missionary who met Gladys Aylward. Amazing - piece of history in our hands. Fantastic - to think this man suffered but came through WWII and carried on serving God.

We showed our girls the book and their eyes were wide with wonder. Our eldest has asked my husband to make sure she gets it when he dies! I love my girls and hope this tremendous interest in things continues as they grow and the world throws up its temptations.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Friendship and refreshment of the soul.

I am nearing the end of reading 'same kind of different As me'; a book about a friendship between the most unlikely men. One a former cotton-picking, ex-con, homeless black man and the other a former Salesman who went on to be a Banker and then a very successful Art Dealer. I have been riveted by this book. These men had nothing in common but the bond they formed is deep. The one has a relationship with Jesus to start with and the other forms one during friendship. They began their journey together at the instance of the Art Dealer's wife. I haven't finished the book yet but I have been inspired; it has moved me to tears at times and laughter at others.

The funny thing is friendship has been a reoccurring theme in my heart and mind recently. We have had a summer of many visits from old friends and I have felt the need to forge new ones where I live now. I have been reminded of the need of all humans to live in community with others.

I am the wife of the parish as it were and it is often said that friendship cannot or even should not be formed therein. I look at the example of Jesus and beg to differ. He had disciples whom he loved deeply, others who were with him on a daily basis and still further friends who he could call upon. I think that is a great model to follow. Some of my friends will be from within the church I attend.

I have decided to be proactive in the search for good friends. I will take the opportunities that are presented to me and also make some for myself. I need that refreshment of the soul that real friends will offer but I also need to be that to others. My friends will come from many different places: Church, my community, other churches etc etc.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Can we find peace in a busy world?

We don't lead a boring life. This summer we have had a stream of visitors through our house. One lot stayed but for the most part we are just serving coffee, cakes and meals. It has meant that I have been able to do a fair bit of baking with my girls. We are pleased to say that the weather has been fine enough to take some of our visitors to the beach and our local park. I have even been in the sea with one of my daughters. Something, I will do again but will have to get a wetsuit and body-board to go with it I think!

My daughters got their long-awaited Life Story work yesterday (it only took 6 years but I will not bore you with the details!). We were supposed to go out with friends yesterday but their son was sick, so we took the opportunity of a quiet day to show them their folders. They were remarkable: our eldest did a great job at reading a large part of it herself. They took the whole thing in their stride and were tremendously interested in the photos of them as babies. This morning they swapped folders and looked at each others. I struggle to get my head around some of it and these 2 little girls sat,looked at their folders and then got their teddies (the ones we gave them in the first week) and showed them the Life Story work. Thank God for His help with this.

Today and tomorrow are 'meeting with friends' days which will involve cream teas and icecream (but not at the same time). We are so grateful for friends old and also for the signs of new friendship we are having in our new place.

Oh, and on top of all that my family leave this town in 6 days time. I will not be here to wave them off as we are going to a Hospital appointment with one of my daughters. They are spending the day with us on Sunday and I am hoping that I can hold it all together. I am going to miss them all like mad.

I look out on the horizon of life and look for the quiet patch but I am not sure it is coming. I need to learn to get that in my heart and soul by reading scripture,helpful books and poems and listening to great music. So for those who may read this: if you have anything that can help me quieten my soul then let me know.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Favourite verses

Both my daughters have favourite bible verses. One is For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. She loves that fact that she will not cry any more. My other daughter loves the verse when Jesus tells the little girl to get up when she has died - Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

Last night they asked me 'Mummy, what is your favourite verse?' I was unable to choose my favourite between the following two.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. and I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. The latter verse has carried my husband through an incredibly difficult patch this year.

I told the girls we should have a favourite verse board and they thought that was a good idea. So I think that is something we ought to get on and do.

Do you have a favourite verse? Post it here if you wish.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Thanks for the memories.

I have been married over 16 years and for most of that time we have lived away from all family. It was just the 2 of us and then we expanded to 4 when our children came along. For the past year we have lived near a close member of my family. It has been lovely, we have enjoyed the spontaneous coffees, lunches, phone calls, trips around their house to watch cricket etc etc. Due to the need for my brother to be able to provide for his family, they are having to move away in 2 weeks time. He tried to get a job locally but it wasn't to be and will be living about 4 hours drive away. We are trying hard not to collapse at the thought of our family (who are now good friends) moving away from us. When we didn't have family around we were independent and it was a matter of large concern but we have lived with the pleasure of it for a year. It is going to be hard going back to being 'just us'.

I am also struggling a little in that they were one of the pointers in our move here. I find it confusing that they are now going. I understand that in the plan of God we are here and have to make the most of it but I wish it was part of His plan for them to stay.

They haven't gone yet and I am already beginning to feel lonely. Watch out everyone around here I am not going to sit around and stay lonely for long; you will find me around a lot.

So I will thank my family for the lovely year and pray that the closeness will continue even with the distance between us.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Children are funny.

but I shouldn't really laugh. Tonight, in response to putting one of my daughters in time out for throwing something she sat on the stairs wailing: 'I have lost my memory. I don't know who I am. I don't know where I am. You top is green (it is red) and your trousers are blue (they are black). The rest of us had to suppress our giggles because it sounded so hilarious. Thankfully, she calmed down very quickly and her memory has now been fully restored. Once the temper calmed down she joined in and laughed with the rest of us.

I tried very hard not to laugh, I promise.

Friday, 7 August 2009

A Year has gone by.

It is hard for me to believe that we have been here for a year. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions.

We were not unhappy to see the back of our removal company who enjoyed taking the money but didn't seem so keen on doing the work well. The majority of the boxes were cleared or at least sorted in about a week - ironically the two we left to 'sort out later' are still in the same state. Perhaps, that will be our anniversary present. 

I suppose our changes of settling in well were blown out of the water at the news of our friend dying at the age of 38. Our old church had only just lost us to a different place and then they were having to deal with that news. We still miss our friend and often when we see the absurd we are reminded of his wacky sense of humour. We are reminded of his love for God, his wife and child. When we saw his wife a few weeks ago we were once again amazed at the courage and trust in God she has.

I could recount the whole year's many tales but suffice to say it isn't a 12-month period I wish to repeat again soon. Or ever really. But then again I know that when we say we will serve God we do not get to order our days.

Gradually, this place is feeling a little like home. We went on our old Church's Houseparty just over a month ago and somehow that helped. It was a great weekend but I cried openly in ways I haven't done since I was a child. God gave me the realisation over that weekend that we are here and we can trust Him to enable us to serve Him.

I was also reminded that I have to be the change I want to see: Let me clarify. I can't complain that the Church, people etc are not what I am used to whilst I wallow in my upset. I have to be encouraging even when I am not encouraged. I have to worship even when the music is not as I would choose. I have to ask God to show me how I can change before I point the finger at others.

We are living in a beautiful part of the country and need to make the most of it. I have been in the sea once this year and plan to make it a regular thing - weather permitting. We also want to take our girls for long walks in the countryside that we are surrounded by.

So 12 months has past and I look forward (with trepidation) to the next 12 months to see how I will grow, what lessons God will teach me and what is in store.

The end of an era

I am from a generation that watched John Hughes films. I didn't watch that many but can still quote from the ones I did watch.

I watched them with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband). The 1980s seem an age away; we all wore strange clothes and sported really dodgy haircuts. And my glasses looked like something that Deirdre Barlow would be happy in! The films seemed to encapsulate how we were all feeling, the pain, joys and intensity of being a teenager.

Today, we heard the news that John Hughes as died at the age of 59 years old. I am wondering if my girls will have the same feeling about films they watch in their teens when they are heading towards 40!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Forest School and a different way of being.

I am a Nursery Nurse and apparently I have to do 24 hours of training a year. I started my job and have done nearly 12 already. Last week my company held a day's training for all staff to attend. We listened to a very interesting Keynote speaker and then had 3 seminars to attend. We got to choose and were able to do 2 of our choice. I really enjoyed the Music in the outside and Forest School ones. It was great to be taught new ideas of how to teach little ones.

Now I could attend the obligatory training, listen to the advice and then never adapt my practice accordingly. This lesson is something that I am also learning in my Christian life. I may not have been to a 'school' but I have learnt a lot of lessons about God, myself and other believers over the past few years. I know that all these lessons could be neatly filed away in the space that is my brain and not used to adapt how I live. I find it easy to look to others and see how they are doing things that don't meet the specifications I have set out for life but that isn't how God has called us Christians to live. We are to point out in love where our fellow Christians are living outside of His plan but we are not to judge just because it is different from us - the bible has got to be our guide for that. So if I see things in my church or other Christians I am not keen on the first thing I should do is see what in me needs changing. I was not put on this life to change everyone else - that is the Holy Spirit's job. I have to learn from my bible, godly Christians and the lessons of life to adapt how I behave, speak and think about others. I have to be the change that I want to see in others. And I also have to be willing to take gentle advice from other Christians who notice in my heart things that aren't Christ-like. The Christian life is exciting: and during it we will learn a lot of lessons. By God's Holy Spirit we can use them to make us more of the kind of person that reflects God to a dying world OR we can become bitter in a self-righteous Christian way. I know the way I desire to use the lessons.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Summer, water and getting out of the boat.

After what seemed like months of rain we have been blessed with a good amount of sunshine. We are reminded each year to wear hats, drink plenty of water and put on large amounts of sun cream. Sunny days invoke memories of lazy times on beaches building sandcastles, eating ice-creams, cream teas, Wimbledon, athletics etc.

I often think of beautiful calm seas with a very slight ripple of a wave; although surfers around the coast here will be wishing for something a little larger. I have recently read a book by John Ortberg called ‘If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat’ which is based on the story of the disciples on a fishing expedition when they get caught in a storm. Jesus is not with them in the boat but He walks on the water to them. Peter, one of the disciples, is so full of confidence in Jesus that he gets out of the boat and walks towards Him. Somehow, he takes his eyes off Jesus and starts looking at the storm and then begins to sink. It would be easy to criticise Peter for not trusting Jesus but he did have the courage to get out of the boat; he took that risk. How would many of us fare in this situation? I wonder if I would be one of the disciples who stayed in the boat. I have heard many times that it is better to try and fail than not try at all.

Sometimes, it seems like the life of a Christian should be easy. ‘Come to Jesus and all your problems will go away!’ is the message of some. The story of Jesus walking on water teaches us that life, will in fact, have its storms and difficulties. Those who have faith in Jesus and choose to serve Him will not be immune from living in a sinful world. The problems we encounter may be of our making; the results of poor decisions, but they may be the result of ‘life happenings’. God will also call us to take risks for Him in ways that we cannot imagine. We may have to do things in our lives that are way out of our Comfort Zone.

God is a good God. If He wants us to do something that we find difficult then He will equip us for that task. A verse from Ephesians says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We may not feel able to do anything for God but He is able to be trusted to help us.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Children are funny.

but I shouldn't really laugh. Tonight, in response to putting one of my daughters in time out for throwing something she sat on the stairs wailing: 'I have lost my memory. I don't know who I am. I don't know where I am. You top is green (it is red) and your trousers are blue (they are black). The rest of us had to suppress our giggles because it sounded so hilarious. Thankfully, she calmed down very quickly and her memory has now been fully restored. Once the temper calmed down she joined in and laughed with the rest of us.

I tried very hard not to laugh, I promise.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Stop the world, I want to get off.

My family and I have had a whirl of a time over the past 2 years. We are ready for life to be a little ordinary.

In that time we have:
  • Spent 6 months deciding to move; all that time keeping it from our friends.
  • Spent 8 months living with those friends knowing we were moving.
  • We have moved 6 hours from the place that was home for nearly 14 years.
  • I have finished a College course.
  • Started in a new Church which is very different from our old one; and the shock was bigger than we thought.
  • Grieved the loss of a friend who was only our age (38 years old).
  • My husband took his Nan's funeral.
  • Started our girls at a new School.
  • Tried to make links with a new community.
  • My DH is Chairman of Directors for a local Charity; and is finding out that not all the information was given to him at the time of making that decision. And he is spending a lot of time putting out fires started by others!
  • I have started work which involves planning daily activities for 4 year olds. I feel inadequate for the job.
  • We have started to be a family that gives more hospitality.
  • We have had to come up with some inventive ways of parenting one of our girls who can have periods of explosive tempers which can last for weeks.
  • We have suffered disappointment from friends.
  • We have not had proper rest or holiday in that time.
  • We have major decisions to make about our children.
  • We are beginning to realise that we need the power of God to get us through the things life throws at us.
  • My husband and I have come to a better understanding of each other.
  • We are working through the rubbish from previous years of marriage.
  • We have the privilege of living near my brother and his family, and the joy that has brought us.
  • We are able to see our parents more often.
  • We live in a beautiful part of the country.
  • We have real and wonderful friendships in many parts of our country.
  • We have learnt that when God changes us to make us more like Christ it isn't all pink and fluffy.
  • We have been blessed with financial gain via a bequest.
  • A 20-year long-distance friendship hasn't imploded because we now live in the same town and my husband is their pastor.
  • I have been blessed by Internet-friendships and deepening of Real Life ones.
Life is full of pluses and minuses. I am learning that God made rest for a reason; we can't function endlessly without taking 'time out' like Jesus did. I have also learnt that life needs an element of pure silliness for its own sake. All serious stuff is not good for the soul. I am tired but am realising that some of that is I don't rest even in the storm. I look at the storm and not at Jesus. A garden needs cultivating, right? Well, so does the need to be a calm person. I need to spend time with God, time with friends, time by myself, my way of thinking in tough times needs to change as well. God is able though and nothing is a surprise to Him.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Enjoyable times with my family.

My husband took the day off yesterday - we felt we needed an extra day after a busy week and strange emotionally draining weeks before that.

We went to our local City (Ok, most of you would not recognise it as a City but it has a Cathedral and it is the only one we have in our County) where there was a Art, Craft and Food Fayre. It was small so we sampled some local cheese, looked around and our youngest was interviewed for the local radio station. Her answer to the question 'What do you know about D-Day? was 'I haven't ever heard of D-Day.' - maybe not the great news article the reporter was hoping for. She is, however, only 6 and I do not think that they cover WWII in the National Curriculum at that age.

We decided to potter around the City in the sunshine and ended up in the grounds of the Cathedral for our lunch. Every Friday this Cathedral has lunch-time concerts so we ventured inside and listened to an Organ Recital. The girls managed nearly 30 minutes of listening before they went off to look at the Boar War Memorial at the back. It was a strange sight watching 2 young girls reading the names of the Soldiers who had died in a war fought a long time ago.

Today, is my husband's regular day off and we went for the walk we had been promising ourselves for a long time. We found a large hill, walked to the top of it and found a beautiful panoramic view which allowed us to see the Sea on both sides of the land. The path took us past old disused quarries, a war memorial, a trig point and a strange place called Preaching Pit where the brave Methodist Ministers of yore preached to the 'verocious' Tin Miners. The Tin Miners are no more and the Pit is used once a year at Pentecost.

On the way home we stopped at a local Farm and bought some locally made Clotted Cream, Scones and Jam and had a home-made Cream tea. It was extremely delicious and wonderfully fitting for the glorious sunshine today.

When the sun shines in our County it is easy to be convinced that we have been truly called here. That feeling of certainty is not quite so easy in the drizzle and wet but God is the same. He has a work for us to do that is not dependant on the weather as His light is what should gladden my heart.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Still here.

I did not realise that I had not written anything since January. Life this past 2 years has been a rollercoaster ride. We have been in our new home/church/town 10 months now. Am I settled? No, I am not sure I am. The girls love their new home (larger garden and bedroom), have adapted to their new church and think living close to the beach is just amazing. The youngest is planning ways on getting us all wetsuits and body-boards and for us to become a surfing family.

Many things have changed since moving and I think the jolt of leaving my comfort zone has helped those along. I am now a working mum; this is something I never thought I would be. The decision was made after a few crazy depressed months of kicking around the house wondering what on earth I would do. I am not good at self-structuring my time and my spiral downwards was going somewhere very destructive fast. I now work 16 hours a week in a Nursery and can still be at home during the school holidays. Time will tell if that is the right thing for me long term but for the moment it is helping sanity regain a place in my mind.

I am still doing all the other household management things, seeing people from church, having the children's friends around to play, snail sitting etc etc. We were challenged as a family about the lack of openness to our home and by God's grace are trying to do that more here. I need strength and courage to ask my neighbours around and I am hoping that the BBQ we purchased will help with that.

Lessons have been learnt and one of those is to rely on God and not my ability to do things. But I think it is early days and have a feeling that there are many more things that I will learn. I also have the feeling it isn't all going to be easy.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

History is made but God is behind the bigger picture.

I watched some of the inauguration with my children. Coincidently, we watched the one 4 years ago so maybe we are starting a tradition!! We got to the part after Barak Obama said his oath and then the girls went off to play. We didn't hear his speech or the somewhat controversial benediction.

My eldest girl loves history and I explained to her that we were watching history in the making. I was amazed to think that people in that crowd remember the days of segregation. They lived it and didn't just know about it through the pages of a history book. The same people were able to stand and watch an African-American man become President of the USA. That is amazing. I felt connected to people all over the world because of the Internet and there was a sense that I was joining in this momentous day.

My husband, a group of friends and myself are reading through the bible this year. A Challenge I suppose you would call it. They have set up a blog for comments and discussion. We have got to the part in Exodus where the Israelites have crossed the Red Sea and God has destroyed the Egyptians that were following them. What would you do in that circumstance? Well, Moses sang a song. And at this wonderful time in history when so much is riding on a man to turn a country around it was good to be reminded that our Saviour is God. 'The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my Salvation; He is my God, and I will praise HIm; my father's God, and I will exalt Him.' God has planned for this time in history to happen but Obama (or any world leader for that matter) cannot save us. Any authority a man has ultimately is from God Himself and it is wise for us to all remember that.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Christians and Schooling.

I had a thought the other day. Nothing really profound but something I wanted to put into words.

I love the stories of the Ragged Schools and why they were set up. I seem to remember doing a Musical about the start of them for one of our Sunday School productions many moons ago. As far as my memory tells me they were mostly set up by Christians. Schools have come a long way from the Ragged Schools. I no longer live in a country where schooling was only for the rich and am grateful that my children can get a decent education for free. (It is a whole other post about countries where children are still unable to be educated.)

Nowadays, it would appear that Christians are a large part of the Homeschooling community. I am well aware that much of the Education System has no reference of God. However, I do find a certain irony when thinking through this issue.

I think for the moment my children will remain educated in School. I truly believe God is a great big God and will protect them. My job as a parent is to equip them to face the world and the things in it.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The New Year

I have been experiencing some incredibly black dog days of late; a delayed reaction to moving from a place I was more settled in than I thought.

I have read things which put a different perspective on life, that have made me realise that I must climb out of the pit. I must be pro-active. I can't look back. I need to take my eyes off 'poor little old me' and place them on God and others. (Yes, the old Sunday School Maxim: Jesus Others Yourself.) If I truly believe we are in God's plan then I must seek to live for Him here. I am not an overly-mystical Christian: By that I mean I don't really believe in waiting around for God's will to magically drop from the sky into my lap. I have to get out there, try things and be prepared to fail.

So in this coming year I want to learn to drive, learn to body-board and get a job (voluntary or paid). When I first became a mummy I set myself realistic goals. I need to do that now. Not too small and not too large. I need to remind myself of the confidence that God gave me and take it back. And to know that it isn't any more godly to go around acting like Uriah Heep, or Eeyore for that matter.

A quote I love: "You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety" Abraham Maslow. I have to ask myself which way am I going to step?