Friday, 28 December 2012

"It's the final countdown!"

Well, Christmas 2012 is nearly over.  It was very pleasant.  I thoroughly enjoyed having someone else cook my Christmas dinner.  It was a real treat and one, quite frankly, I feel I deserved this year.  It has been wonderful to be able to take a back seat from some of the household tasks as my husband has been doing them.  When the edges of guilt started to creep in I banished them clear away.  There is no need for the guilt.  I am on the countdown to surgery so why shouldn't I take it slightly more easy?

We got a 'Wii' for the family this Christmas.  One of the songs reminded me that it is only a month to go before I am due to have my heart surgery.  I range from being really strong to being terrified.  In my Christian mind I know that all things are in God's hands.  I am sure I could recite loads of bible verses and often do to help me.  In my fearful state I imagine all sorts of things.  I need to carry a book around with me and write down the things that pop into my mind at any given opportunity.  ('What sort of bra can I wear in recovery?',  'Just how loudly will I tick?',  'Will I forget I tick and wonder where the noise is coming from?' 'Will I ever run or exercise again? 'and 'Will the ticking finally send me over the edge of insanity?') 

I wish I could write a blog about great strength and trust.  I may write more blogs about my feelings over the next month and during recovery.  I may wax lyrical about being carried where the way was too hard, I may let you into the dark humour that I use to get through and then again I may just rant about the unfairness of this situation.  One lesson I have learnt whilst waiting is that each day is different; one day I will be fine and the next I am planning an escape to some mountains where I can pretend that my valve will go on forever without the need of surgical replacement.

I obviously cannot tell you the future but mine will almost certainly hold pain, hard work and determination.  So to help with that I will buy some decent underwear and a cushion.  That way I will still be able to laugh without too much pain.  :)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Stop growing now, I tell you.

I am the mum of 2 girls.  Over the years they have caused me great joy and also, tremendous sadness and grief.  This past 12 months have seem them grow; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  We are coming to the end of our summer break and all of us have had a good time. 

My youngest is lanky and has nearly managed to be as tall as me.  :)  She is cheeky, clever, strong-willed and determined, to give her a few adjectives.  If you can capture her imagination and interest she just flies away and the sky is her limit.  Over the summer we decided to introduce a 'reading after bedtime' routine.  It has encouraged her to read books and she would even say she 'sort of' likes reading now.  She has spent hours playing at the 'Olympics' and devised many different sports that she has won gold in all of.  Her big sister is going to Senior School in September and she has had to adapt to what that means; no longer will they do everything together and TJ will have some privileges that she will have to wait for.  Her love of animals continue to grow and she has had the wonder of visiting a number of farms this August.

Our eldest might be physically smaller but everyone knows she is the eldest.  She can hold her own in any company and is learning to speak her mind.  Her independence has grown enormously as she has gone to church camp and spent a day at a riding stables.  An abiding memory I will have of her is saying 'Trot on Millie' to the horse that is refusing to do what it is told - TJ can make her.  Her love of books is as integral to her as breathing.  She is facing the massive change of Senior School with amazing strength and excitement (exactly the same characteristics she showed when we first adopted her - brave).  She can be the most amazing helpmate in any task and is often by our side helping out.  

My girls are the best of friends and worst of enemies.  That can change in a millisecond but this picture encapsulates how they have been this summer (2012).

So thanks girls for this summer.  I pray that God will continue to be with you and that you continue to grow in all ways as you are doing now.  I am sure that we will have our moments (we are red-haired for goodness sake) but it is a blessing to be regarded as your mum.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

London 2012

The Olympics is over and I am missing it.  I enjoyed it and was proud of all the medals Team GB won, the most for over 100 years.  Hopefully, we will do as well in Rio. :)

My mum, put me on to this.  A montage of audio clips from the Olympics with some of the words from 'If' by Rudyard Kipling.

I am now looking forward to the Paralympics which starts in a few weeks time.  Unfortunately, I will be back at work and will not be able to watch it quite so much as the Olympics that have just finished.  Should be good though.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Let me recommend one for you.

Today was quite a day.  It included dropping off one daughter at a camp, visiting a Christian music festival, spending time with relatives and eating lots of bad food.

I also had to phone up the Tax Credit office to update some facts and figures.  I was, however, able to make the lovely operative's day when I knew what she was studying at University.  I managed to get the one person who was training to be a Cardiac Physiologist!  So my 'interested in anything medical' head was able to be really fascinated as she told me about the Echo scans, ECG etc she was learning to perform .  My 'patient' head could not believe that I cannot get away from Cardiology.  The funny thing about all of this is if I was not having the procedures I would love to watch what was going on as the structure and workings of the human body are totally amazing.

Oh, and in the course of the phone call I picked up yet another recommendation for a different 'top' Cardiology Hospital. :)  Life is funny.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


Yes folks, it is official.  I have beautiful coronary arteries.  My aortic valve is somewhat dodgy, a little hole will need fixing and I may need a Stent (due to another birth defect), but I am proud to say I managed to get a room full of medics gush (excuse the pun) about my coronary arteries.

I managed to get through the angiogram without jumping off the table; the sedation gave me a warm "sitting in the sun"-kind of feeling (lets not talk about the 2 day long "electrical storm" that came afterwards as the drug worked its way out of my body!!).  Now I just wait for the results of all the tests and for an appointment to speak with the Cardiologist.

In the meantime I have to wait and not be tempted to give my Coronary Arteries a workout by running.  For the moment I will live vicariously through the Olympics.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

"Good Evening Mr Bond"

I watched all of the opening Ceremony of London 2012.  Apart, from a small part around midnight where I slipped into semi-unconsciousness. The whole evening was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My husband was ecstatic that his musical hero had nearly a 15 minute slot.  Mike Oldfield shot across from the Caribbean to play a short set.

As a family we oohed and aahed at the magnificence of the whole occasion.  The celebration of Britain and her achievements.  But the highlight for me was the James Bond sequence and the brief appearance of the Queen.  How on earth did Danny Boyle manage to swing that one?  I also loved  Mr Bean's take on the 'Chariots of Fire' film.

The final 'cauldron' was a piece of art both in structure and the lighting of it.  That sequence made us all look to the future.

So all the best Team GB in the next few weeks.  I look forward to seeing you at the closing Ceremony.  And then at the Para-olympics after that.  After all, it is what I got a TV licence back for.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Colour Maroon

I am in the middle of a crazy period of my life as I wait for invasive tests and heart surgery.  I have had 'white coat hypertension' for years.  I have no choice but to learn to deal with it.

Not long into this journey someone sent me a small Maroon Journal with the names of Jesus inscribed on the front and Bible verses at the bottom of each page.  I already have a Diary which I write in on a regular basis; I started during Lent this year and have carried on.  That one will not be filled for ages and I wanted to use the new Journal so decided to write down things that encouraged, cheered or helped me.  I actively look for things which are positive and it is amazing how much is out there.  A lot of what I have written is from the Bible or hymns which speak to me but not all.  I look back through the book and see how much I have collected in a short time of writing.  Just having the Journal is a reminder that God is providing things which encourage me on a regular basis; it is a great way to help the memory loss of good things I so frequently suffer from!  It also means I get to write in my special ink pen which is way over 20 years old and was given to me by my Grandad (as far as I can remember.)  My childhood tin pencil case has also made a re-entry into everyday use.

So most days you will see my pile of books: Bible: 'Sketches by Boz' and my Journal placed somewhere around the house, all a beautiful shade of Maroon.  A colour which is increasingly coming to mean something positive, good and helpful.

This post was written as part of this syncroblog:

Sunday, 22 July 2012

One more step along the world we go.

My eldest daughter had her Leavers' Assembly from Primary School the other day.  I cried real tears that rolled down my cheeks when all of the Year 6 pupils sang 'Sing'.  (I have officially become someone who can cry at the drop of a hat.)  My heart was full of many emotions during that asembly and my eyes did not leave my girl.  She looked  like a very big version of the girl I first saw just over 9 years ago: a delicate-framed, red-haired cutie only this time her eyes were confident.  I was full of pride for her and because of her achievements.  She is leaving her Primary Education with a good report, a friendly personality, good results, and a marvellous smile.

This time last year her class was mixed around and she lost some of her friends.  I was not pleased but in retrospect no harm was done.  Change and loss can be difficult for her, but she worked through it and coped.  Again.  She went away on her first camp in May and thoroughly enjoyed herself.  She tackled activities that would have been hard for her but she was up for it and achieved them.

This past school year she has realised her dream of having horse riding lessons, told us of her decision to become a Christian, worked hard at dealing with her negative emotions and actions that come out of them, progressed academically, made some new friends, become more demonstrative in her affection towards us, read loads of books, coped with the disappointment of ALL her birthday and Christmas presents failing to do what they should and needing replacing, shown independence and that is naming but a few.

She is looking forward to her transition to Senior Education.  She is going forward with a positive attitude towards it, true belief in her abilities, excitement at what this next stage of her life will bring, a small faith in Jesus, discovering new friends in school and out.  We have given her a little dictionary that we hope she will treasure as much in the future as she did when we gave it to her on Friday.

Our road to this point has been long and sometimes incredibly hard but it was good to see the fledgling that is emerging.  My prayer for you is that you keep going in your faith in Jesus, in what you can achieve through Him and the abilities He has given you.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Silly Songs with Larry.

Living with the knowledge that you are going to have open heart surgery is a strange experience.  And nothing like I imagined.  Not that I really sat around trying to imagine it.  I have already learnt lessons about myself and how to deal with other people in difficult situations.

For example, how not to:  (A replay of a conversation I had the other day with someone I know.)
Me:  I am glad they found out about it and that I can have the surgery when I am fit and healthy
Person:  Oh, I don't know.  I think they find out too much nowadays.  In the old days the first you would know about it was when you dropped down dead after a heart attack!  That's right isn't' it?  (Question referred to someone else).
Me:  Well, I am glad they have found out.
Thankfully, at that point I had to be somewhere else and was able to leave before I received any more helpful advice and comfort.  True story.

For example, how to help:
I have had a number of people genuinely offer help of any kind when I need it; looking after the children, cooking, shopping etc.  I will take them up on these offers when I know how they can best help.

I am learning to use humour as a useful tool to help me.  I discovered the other day that I will be part Cyberman when I have my new valve!  "As fleshy parts wear out and are replaced with shiny metal, emotions drop out and land with a splat on the floor."  And there is also something slightly amusing about being on the same medications as my parents.

Over the years I have been anxious about many things and could be classed as a worrier.  I am learning to prioritise.  A lot of things are just are not important.  The Bible and prayer have become more important again.  Unfortunately, it has taken a major health issue to show me these things. 

Shush, do not tell anyone but I am learning how to use relaxation techniques in order to keep calm.  (My Evangelical Christian radar sensors are still slightly twitchy at this thought.)  I have a few CDs that were given to me by my Cardiac Nurse (well mine and all her other patients but it makes me feel special).  I am to try them twice a day but once is more realistic.  Whilst I certainly do not agree with the sentiments the lady on one CD expresses the music and the sound of her calm voice are helpful.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

God save the Queen

I have just enjoyed a whole weekend of Royal watching.  It was great.  I got my TV licence renewed for this (and the Olympics and the Christmas Dr Who, of course!)

I loved watching the Flotilla, the highlights of the Concert (best part was Madness on the roof and the fantastic computer display on Buckingham Palace), the service at St Paul's Cathedral, the beautiful outfits of the Queen and other Royals.  The Queen seemed a little lost without her consort, Prince Philip though.

As a Brit I have been taught to queue from a very early age.  Watching the Police lead the people down the Mall in time for the start of the appearance of the Queen on the Balcony was amazing to watch.  We queue a lot here and by gum, we do it well.

My overall, best part of the weekend is this song.  It is so catchy and the 'making of' documentary was lovely.  Well done, Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band.  :)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The difference a word makes.

Or group of words for that matter.  I have lived all my life knowing that I have a heart murmur.  Somehow, that is a comforting term; something like the gentle noise of the waves on a beautiful calm day.  I have lived with it and recently run with it.

During the winter I had a number of colds.  I went to the GP twice to get them checked out because of my asthma.  She mentioned my heart murmur and back in February I managed to stave off the referral to "get it reviewed".  In March I did not.  She referred me for a few tests including a Echo Scan.

Last Thursday, my nice gentle heart murmur officially became a Leaky Aortic Valve.  I really do not like the change in name; the waves are a lot more bumpy now.  I was born with a congenital abnormality of the heart valve which my Cardiologist (for I have one again!) told me in blunt and non-sympathetic tones that it was a case of "when" not "if" I would require a replacement.  My anxiety is "all in my mind" and I need to speak with my GP about getting it dealt with!  My husband and I have a lot of questions about this that need answering and we will seek them out before we do anything irreversible.

I am gradually telling people I know about this and for some it is like I have just said "I need an ingrowing toe-nail removed" for such is their reaction - "Oh, you'll be alright!!"  Others have been delightful and have offered help in anyway they can give it.  My employers have been amazing and told me to have any time off I need.  I do have to fight the urge to use humour about this at times as I am not sure everyone will understand but it helps my husband and myself.

Thankfully, the gut-wrenching shock of a week ago has subsided but the ripples of anxiety still hit me when I am not expecting them.  I give each day over to the Lord for that is truly all I can deal with at any one time.  I have a long journey ahead of me which will feature invasive tests, appointments and ultimately surgery.  My children know that mummy needs more tests and we will tell them the depth of things when it is absolutely necessary.  I read the Bible and pray a lot and with more purpose.   I know that He will have to give me the strength to get through because I will not be able to on my own. In my weak and feeble human state I can say that God knows the end from the beginning and this is not a shock to Him.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Torch has Landed.

So, we have waited for years for this moment and it has arrived.  The Olympic Torch has landed on UK soil; it arrived in a Golden Plane with a few dignitaries.

Here is a video taken by my youngest daughter.

It was great to be there with loads of other people as the Torch Landed on UK soil.  Looking forward to the Olympics and will even renew our TV Licence for the event.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Yep, I go along with that.

We are a Church-going family.  My husband is a Pastor so it would be pretty weird if we were not.  Over the years I have thought about this and why I go.  During my time attending different churches I have seen Christians do and say some awful things and, I know the same could be said by those observing me.  I know my heart and thoughts; sometimes they stink.  I read history and struggle to reconcile some of what has been done in the name of the Church.  My mind then drifts to the Bible and realises that nothing is new under the sun.

From the beginning God created a Community in order for His people to meet together and worship Him.  Church is His idea.  He wanted Adam to have a companion to work alongside him in the garden, to share worship together.  Israel was formed in order for God's people to join together in worship as they waited for the Messiah.  Jesus choose a ragbag group of followers to share His earthly work with.  A lot of those men and women were dysfunctional and looked nothing like the heart of God, but they were hand picked to start the global phenomenon which shows no sign of stopping - the Church.

After the first Easter weekend and the 40 days afterwards Jesus was with His small band of followers.  Then He went back to heaven whilst they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Once that happened their work was to spread the good news of Jesus, setting up local Churches as they went.  It sounds idyllic until we flick a few pages further in the New Testament.  Churches were planted, Christians met and then fell out about serving, doctrines, positions, who to follow etc.  A lot of the New Testament was written to local Churches (that God had led different people to set up) about how to behave towards one another or what we should think about Jesus and His very being.  The book of Revelation mentions many different Churches.

Over the years of being a Christian many people at Church, or Churches themselves, have annoyed, upset or plain confused me.  However, the one thing that has kept me going along to a local place of Worship is a passage in Hebrews Chapter 10:  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. "   I find it interesting that in the English translation used here the good deeds and the not giving up meeting together are joined by a comma not separated by a full stop.

The Church (local or global) is God's idea, He thought of the plan so that His followers would have community.  He longs for His people to worship Him in Spirit and truth as individuals, but also together.  He gave us the Church so that we could be strengthened, encouraged and challenged.  Sometimes that will mean it is hard work but at other times the fellowship with other believers will be real joy.  It may sometimes look battered, shabby and lacking in any kind of spiritual awareness but it is His, and one day will be perfected in sinless unity to Worship Him forever.

Sunday, 8 April 2012


At the beginning of Lent I put a self-imposed ban on myself.  I gave up some of my favourite Internet sites and wondered what would happen.  Here are the thoughts that I have had now that time is over.  Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time away and hope not to get sucked back into the time-guzzling machine that tells me I am building Community.
  • Spend more quality time with my family, without the haze of a computer screen in my glasses.
  • I have managed to spend a lot less time on the Internet, discovering that Facebook and some of the other sites I frequented were draining the energy that was needed to be with my family.  I went on yesterday to some of those sites and was reminded how easily I could get drawn back into the apparent transparency of people's lives.  Real life has its own troubles (and joys) and I need to be prepared for it so plan to keep my time on Facebook etc to a minimum.  I wish I could regulate myself well but in times of tiredness etc all my good intentions go out of the window, hence the strict rules I will place on myself.
  • My brief foray into Facebook etc yesterday reminded me that endless regurgitated (reposted) sayings, helpful hints, misquotes, rudeness and information so personal it made me blush,  maybe is not the best use of my time.  They have had their place in my life but they need to take a back seat for the moment.
  • Spend more time with God.
  • I did manage to spend more time reading the Bible but my times of prayer need a lot more work.  The period of Lent also gave me time to reflect on Jesus and what having a relationship with Him means to me.  
  • Spend more time with friends in my town.  Build real-life friendships.
  • Spending less time checking up on the latest update of someone's status meant I was free to go out more and enjoy coffee with friends here.  My town has a superfluity of Coffee Shops and I visited many of them and enjoyed myself immensely.
  • Spend more time building up my long-distance friendships, some of which are only there because of the Internet.
  • Coming off some websites meant I was able to focus more on a small one where I participated on a more regular basis enabling me to feel more part of the members' every day comings and goings.
  • Do more thorough cleaning.  My house is pretty tidy but there are lots of areas that don't get done which should.
  • The house has a slightly cleaner feel to it, although going out more meant the housework did not become an obsession.  :)
  • Read more books.
  • I read a lot more books.  Some have made me laugh, others made me cry and still others just inspired me by the amazing people that have lived and worked for Jesus.
  • Listen (or watch, using iplayer ironically) to some Lent Lectures.
  • Failed completely to do this but I did listen to a service and a 'Thought for the day' on BBC Radio 4.
  • Rebuild the margins in my life.
  • My husband has a book about this that I will read and maybe come back to this later when I remember what I meant by this. 
  • Develop real hospitality in my home.
  • Not a lot of this went on but the small amount I did was less pressured as the constant call of the web just was not there.
  • Keep cooking and learn more skills.
  • This will always be an on-going thing for me.  My family were well fed and there were less 'Oh, I forgot to take something out of the freezer' dinners because I was not so occupied.
  • Maybe, start a needle craft again.
  • No needlecraft was started.  However, I did managed to adapt a dress for me to wear and I have plans to make petticoats for the girls for them to wear under their Flora Day dresses.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Zip Code

OK, so this has nothing to do with street locations.  I am going to a Ladies Conference at the weekend in a place that has a beautiful staircase.  This year is 25 years of the "Know your Bible" (UK) Organisation which is hosting the Conference.  So with these components combined it was thought a good idea to have all the delegates dressed in Ball Gowns, and float majestically down the stairs like movie stars in an old film.  I am sure the reality will be very different but we should have a great time especially as we are having a special meal afterwards.  (Note to self: Don't forget you are going for spiritual retreat as well. :))

Anyway, I have been looking for a suitable dress that didn't break the bank.  I finally found one and after trying it on I broke the zip instead.  This dress was on loan to me (with the view of buying) from a friend who runs a Charity Shop.  So I paid for the dress and hoped I could salvage it.  Instead of sewing in a new zip I decided to put a new panel down the side of the dress which gave me a little more room.  I will need to hem the dress and then decide whether I will have the courage to wear it as it is quite different from the things I am usually seen in.

So while it isn't Scarlett O'Hara I am proud of the small changes I made.  Here is a photo (I added a section down the left hand side where the zip should have been - hidden under my arm!)

NB:  Another positive side effect of not being on Facebook so much.  

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Word

We are a family of words.  We all like to read in varying degrees.  My husband and eldest daughter would do so all day and night if life didn't get in the way.  I love books and my youngest daughter loves to be read to.  We also love songs.  I am often on the look-out for different artists that I can listen to.  Some are successful and pass my filter and others get blocked for a whole load of reasons.

A few years ago just after I moved to my present location a friend pointed me towards a Sarah Groves' song; one which got me through many a difficult time and that I couldn't listen to without crying for well over 18 months!

I haven't exercised for a few weeks because of a cold.  This morning I felt better so put on Leslie Sansome on Youtube and started walking.  I have done this video so many times so I muted Leslie and plugged myself into my MP3 Player.  I listened to another Sara Grove song which struck me.  Here it is:  http://youtube/0ofE-GZ8zTU

I have been a Christian since I was 12 years old, was brought up in a Christian home and have been surrounded by Christian doctrine forever.  However, sometimes hearing something old in song helps me to say 'Wow, I get that.'.   I love the following verse and the chorus.

I think it's time I rediscover 
All the ground that I have covered,
Like seek ye first what a verse
We are pressed but not crushed
Perplexed but don't despair
We are persecuted but not abandoned
We are no longer slaves
We are daughters and sons
And when we are weak we are very strong
And neither death nor life nor present
Nor future nor depth nor height
Can keep us from the love of Christ
And the Word I need is the Word that was
Who put on flesh to dwell with us
In the beginning

The Word was
The Word is
And the Word will be

Jesus is that Word.  I will end this post with the following verses from the opening chapter of the Gospel of John in the Bible:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.   In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Are we there yet?

At the beginning of Lent I put Facebook and some of my favourite websites into my Safe-eyes programme as blocked sites.  So far I have thoroughly enjoyed the time away from the constant nagging to 'just check'.  I can't, so therefore I don't.  I am thinking of only looking at these sites once a week when this period of time is over.  I will search out ways of doing so either in Safe-eyes or via my Internet provider.  I know that I am not strong enough to do this without that little help!

God knew that I would need to be away from the screen as we have had a crazy time over here in the real world.  A lady who started attending our church on New Years Day has died; she was very young.  We attended her Funeral yesterday and some of it I found so sad.  I didn't know her well but was looking forward to getting to know her better.  She was a bright, intelligent lady but also someone who had suffered many different things immensely during her short 36 years.  Her sister spoke about her during the Thanksgiving part of the Funeral; it made me think about my girls and the need for them to remain friends.  We have to do what we can to help that as far as we are able.  Also, I thought of my youngest sister and the friendship we have shared over the years.  It was another reminder to work on friendship because we do not know what time there is left.

We have also had cases at church which have required our help, the details of which I cannot write on line due to confidentiality issues.  I do believe that God is using these things to challenge my own prejudices about myself and other issues that I have long held.  I am a 'black and white' person and life isn't always like that.  I am learning that no matter what happens or who we have to help, the grace of God is sufficient.  It doesn't always look like we imagine and sometimes it is hard.  For many years I was a person who could be hard and then I moved to my present location!  I have learnt to feel more and sometimes it hurts.

During my break I have written down my thoughts at the end of each day.  There is something wonderful about using my proper Ink pen and watching the words flow on the page.  I was given the pen by my granddad more than 20 years ago.  At the moment I have blue Ink but will look around for some purple or maybe some green.

I am enjoying the time I have with my family and realise that some of our long held traditions which may seem quaint to others are so important.  They are also ones that I need to build on and not allow slip for the sake of a 'quick look' at Facebook.

And on that note I must go and join the others in the garden.  It is a beautiful day and one of my daughters is asking skipping advice through the window.  I better go and oblige.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Killer ducks, horse manure and 2 red-headed ragamuffins.

I have been a parent for nearly 9 years, and the more I walk that path the less sure I feel about my naively-held theories on the subject.  Some of my long-thought out dictates on parenting still hold, some are wavering on the brink of extinction and others have bitten the dust long ago.

One thing I am learning recently is that children need to achieve something regularly.  My youngest daughter has recently had a change of teacher as her regular teacher is off long-term sick (again); the supply is amazing.  The class is now taught by 2 lady teachers and a teaching assistant and the combination is doing wonders for my child's enthusiasm for reading.  They seem to set her small targets and encourage her to reach them.  It is lovely to see her attitudes change.

My other daughter is having semi-regular horse-riding lessons and she is doing incredibly well.  She looks a natural on the horse (unlike me who has never fully recovered from the childhood trauma of a horse sneezing over me whilst eating grass!)  For some reason she seems to get the slow, lazy horses but her teacher is always impressed with how well she gets them to trot along without much help from her leader.  My heart swelled with pride when another mum commented on how well she thought my daughter was doing.

We had a Cupcake Event at church the other evening and they were able to attend.  I am not known for my great abilities in cake decoration; butter icing and a few chocolate buttons is about all you will get from me.  However, my girls were rather good.  Here are the cakes that they decorated:

Number 1 daughter's cake creations.

Number 2 daughter's cake creations.

The teddy bear and ducks are made out of fondant icing.  I think the ducks were slightly adapted by the lady  supervising them to do away with the killer duck aspect that my number 2 daughter had added to the cake!!!

And finally the great joy I had, when visiting a local library my husband has a subscription to, coming around the corner to see both my girls sat on the floor with a book in hand reading almost oblivious to the fact they were blocking the corridor!  Nobody minded though as this was a library and there were children in it reading. 

Thank you for allowing me to share a few moments of pride and joy that my girls have given me over the past few months.  It feels good.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Caesura - A friend of mine wrote a poem based on this word.  Technically, it is pause in a line of poetry or music.  I like the word and I remember liking the poem but can't find a copy of it now.

Today, is the start of Lent.  Last night we had waffles instead of pancakes but they are more or less the same thing.  Usually, that is where my Lent observation begins and ends.  This year I read a blog post about how to mark Lent, and one thing was to cut Internet time.  If I was brave I would unplug completely but I am the type of person who needs to make my goals achievable otherwise I fall at the first hurdle.  Also, there are some websites that have helped me develop good exercising practices so I will keep going with those.

I realised that like most people of my generation I spend way too much time on here.  Also, like my generation I try to pretend that I don't.  So last week I faced up to facts.  I decided that for Lent this year I would get my Internet usage into perspective.  I have placed Facebook, a PW Forum and some blogs into my computer's 'blocked sites' list and will not be using them until the end of Lent.  I had to do this because I know left to my own devices, I would be back on them by the end of the week.  So, if your blog has gone in there it is nothing to do with you, just the amount of time and energy I was spending on it.

At the end of the time, I will re-evaluate things and I may cut my Facebook friends list down.

God willing, I will use the time I save to:

  • Spend more quality time with my family, without the haze of a computer screen in my glasses.
  • Spend more time with God.
  • Spend more time with friends in my town.  Build real-life friendships.
  • Spend more time building up my long-distance friendships, some of which are only there because of the Internet.
  • Do more thorough cleaning.  My house is pretty tidy but there are lots of areas that don't get done which should.
  • Read more books.
  • Listen (or watch, using iplayer ironically) to some Lent Lectures.
  • Rebuild the margins in my life.
  • Develop real hospitality in my home.
  • Keep cooking and learn more skills.
  • Maybe, start a needle craft again.
I think that is enough for the moment or I will be in danger of settings the bar too high and then I will fail. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012


I occasionally suffer from 'black dog' days.  I am not a pretty person to be around during them.  I push everyone around me away.  And in the midst of them I genuinely do not seem to know how to stop it or the emotional consequences.  Like many people of my generation, I don't rest or replenish low batteries much at other times either.  Even if I am sitting down watching TV, surfing the net or reading a book, my brain is always on the go.  This leads to an overload when something tough happens and it triggers a bad day or two.  It causes an inability to see, hear or feel anything properly.

However, I do love music but a lot of what I listen to is 'active' and noisy.  I love rhythm but in order to switch off I need soft, soulful music.  Music that will calm my heart, mind and soul.

For today this song fitted the bill:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Parenting: My kind of freedom.

I thought becoming a mum would be easy.  After all, I am one of four children and my mum never had any troubles in that department.  I had two ambitions growing up: Becoming a wife.  Having children; four of them.

I married relatively young (22 years old) and wanted children almost straight away.  I imagined the warm fuzzy family that we would have.  Our children would have biblical names and all be extremely well behaved!  They would also have delicate red curly hair and eyes the colour of my husband's.  I was going to be the most maternal mum ever.

Reality didn't mirror our dreams in any way.  I never did manage to carry a baby to term; we lost 4 babies through miscarriage.

Thank God, that our story didn't end there; we became parents through adoption.  My family looks different from the one I imagined.  My girls have red hair but the curls are nowhere to be seen.  Their first names were given to them by another set of parents and their behaviour is often less than perfect.  But the girls are ours (don't anyone try to tell me any different) and given to us by God so we still have to do the job of parenting.

I am writing this post to link up with Sarah's Carnival.  I came into marriage with lots of ideas/ideals about the kind of parent I would be.  However, waiting nearly 8 years, going through an adoption process and then becoming a mum to 2 children on one day shot some of those to pieces!  I love my girls but we have had challenges to face.  One of my daughters, especially, has tested my patience to the limit and many times I have failed.

The practice that has helped me through the years of parenting is routine and consistency.  I remember in the first few weeks after the girls were placed that we went for a nap every time they did.  Those scheduled sleeps were a life saver, as were the set bedtimes.  Many a time I felt overwhelmed by the long day which stretched ahead of me; 'Oh, my goodness! They have had breakfast, I have had breakfast, we are all washed and dressed and it is still only 9am!'  My routines helped break the day into smaller, more manageable slots.

Other routines over the years have poured a salve on my wounded heart after many a bad day of parenting. (Either their tantrums, my reactions or both!):  The long bedtime routine, the stories that we read each night and their excitement as to what is going to happen next in our chapter books, the time of sleep/calm after dinner when the girls are home, the Saturday morning walk to the shops with daddy, the Christmas corner that we set up each year, the travel bag my girls pack for every long journey, the nightly bible times we share together, sitting down each night as a family to eat dinner etc etc etc.  I love my routines and they have helped me be a better parent.  I know full well that spontaneity has a place and that is something I need to learn too but for the moment we will stick with the routines.

God knew that our parenting experience would not be anything like we thought; that we would face things that we could never have imagined 9 years ago before our girls came, but He has guided and protected through the years and will do so in the ones to come.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Perseverance and the hope of Christ

This year I want to start thinking of Christian things in a deeper way.  However, what I want to focus on is things like my hope in Christ, and how the Holy Spirit can overcome my many fears, and give strength and courage even when life is pants. 

On Sunday, I have to do the Children's talk at Church.  I struggle each time to think of what to say that might be original, snappy and that will have the children eating out of my hand.  When nothing like that comes to mind, I usually give up and search my memory bank for something I said at my last church.  I have a few historical characters who are my heroes; and one of them is Eric Liddell.  I used to like his story even before I started running.  

Eric was born in China in 1902 and died there from a brain tumour in 1945.  From my reading of him, everything he did, he worked hard at it.  He was a good athlete and a strong Christian and worked hard at both whilst at University in Edinburgh.  He played Rugby for the Scottish National Team as well as competing in many athletic events.  

In 1924 the Paris Olympics took place.  Eric is well known for refusing to compete in the 100 metres race because it was held on a Sunday.  He instead, competed the 400 metres and broke World and Olympic records.  

From 1925-1943 he was a Missionary in China.  He married and had 3 daughters but also continued to run whilst teaching Science to rich Chinese students.  China was invaded by Japanese forces in 1937 but Eric stayed and helped many.  The British Government wanted him to leave China as the situation worsened.  He stayed while his family left for Canada.  (He would never see them again.)  

Eric, along with other Westerners was sent to Weihsein Interment Camp in 1943.  He helped many people while there with food, and other needs.  He was put in charge of organising things, taught children and helped out with the teenagers by refereeing football matches for them.  He was never observed being grumpy or forlorn.  He gave up a chance for release by allowing his place to go to a pregnant lady.  He suffered greatly, he missed his family and missed the birth of his 3rd daughter.  He did all of this out of His love for Jesus and because this is how he serve Him.  He died 21st February 1945 (five months before the liberation of Japan) from a brain tumour. 

This man did everything well and worked hard.  He ran the race that God had set before Him.  It was a hard race; one if I had been on it, would have complained, moaned and most likely fallen at the first hurdle.  Some verses in Romans chapter 5: 1-5 say 'Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.'  

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A quote about Marriage.

My husband and I are reading a book about Marriage.  No, not THAT book but this one, 'The Meaning of Marriage' by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.  We read a little each night and have reached Chapter 2: 'The Power for Marriage.'

We read this tonight.

"The principle we have been describing serves as a corrective to a couple of the popular models for "having a satisfying marriage."

There is the conservative approach to marriage that puts a great deal of stress on traditional gender roles.  It says that the basic problem in marriage is that both husband and wife need to submit to their God-given functions, which are that husbands need to be the head of the family, and wives need to submit to their husbands.  There is a lot of emphasis on the differences between men and women.  The problem is that an overemphasis could encourage selfishness, especially on the part of the husband.

There is a more secular approach to marriage that says that the real problem in marriage is that you have to get your spouse to recognize your potential and help you to develop it.  You must not let your spouse trample all over you.  Self-realization is the goal.  You've got to develop yourself in your marriage, and if your spouse won't help you do it, you've got to negotiate.  And if your spouse won't negotiate, you've got to get out to save yourself.  That, of course, also can just pour gas on the fire of selfishness instead of putting it out.

The Christian principle that needs to be at work is Spirit-generated selflessness - not thinking less of yourself or more of yourself but thinking of yourself less.  It means taking your mind off yourself and realizing that in Christ your needs are going to be met and are, in fact, being met so that you don't look at your spouse as your saviour.  People with a deep grasp of the gospel can turn around and admit that their selfishness is the problem and that they're going to work on it  And when they do that, they will often discover an immediate sense of liberation, of waking up from a troubling dream.  They see how small-minded they were being, how small the issue is in light of the grand scheme of things.  Those who stop concentrating on how unhappy they are find that their happiness is growing.  You must lose yourself to find yourself."

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

How did that rabbit get in my front room?

Now, for those who know me well, it was a shock when I relented and let my youngest daughter have a rabbit for Christmas.

You see folks, I am an avid pet-avoider.  (Dogs mostly scare me and Cats make me sneeze and wheeze.)  I didn't like them as a child and was certain that no child of mine would ever own one.  (I think I said that about girls wearing pink as well, but my resolve slipped there too.)  However, somehow in a moment of madness, whilst out with some friends I agreed to buying one of their baby rabbits.  So on Christmas Eve we took delivery of a beautiful little rabbit.

It was a pleasure to see the look on our girl's face when she opened the box of chew sticks and the penny dropped that there might be a pet in our house!

I have grown fond of the furry creature that lives in its hutch in our Utility Room.  I did insist that it would never cross the kitchen threshold.  One cold Sunday afternoon it was brought through our kitchen and into the front room.  So the rabbit being in its run is a regular sight in our living space.

My family laugh at me as I talk to the rabbit and show signs of genuine affection.  Even I can't work out how that happened.  It was instant.  I enjoy having a rabbit in our home but there is no way we will ever get a dog!

Charlie the rabbit.
(Charlie, because we don't know if it is a boy or girl.)