Friday, 13 September 2013

Modern day miracles.

A funny example of the strange prayers we pray as Christians.  We were on a long journey the other day and my husband needed a comfort break.  He prayed for a lay-by to become available.  We drove past lots of them but they were hidden until we went past.  On the particular road we are on is a famous shopping place, which has an abundance of facilities.  My husband drove past.  And then prayed again for a lay-by.  I was not sympathetic as I felt God had already given him a good answer to that rather flippant prayer.

This is just a silly example of how Christians sometimes pray.  I believe that we must pray (although my prayer life is ropey to say the least) BUT sometimes, we pray and the answer is already staring us in the face. Occasionally, it seems like we use prayer as a magic talisman.

When people are ill I pray for healing and I believe in miracles.  I really do.  However, I have not seen any like the ones Jesus performed in the Bible.  All the miracles I have seen involved modern medicine.  I really believe that God uses it an awful lot to make people better.  I often hear Christians pray, "Lord, bring a miracle.  Heal this person." or "We believe that God can heal this person."  Yes, and so do I so please visit the Doctor, take the medication and go for the tests that are called for.  (I know of Christians who have talked about giving up medicines because they feel like they are lacking trust in God.)  By doing this you are not being a faithless Christian or distrusting the divine healing that can come.  You are using the amazing brain that God gave you.  He may heal you dramatically but then again the answer to your prayers may be more long term.

I thank God for the miracle of modern medicine because many of my family would not be here without it.  I thank God for the answers to prayers which look like Doctors, Nurses, Scientists and other workers in the Medical Field. I will continue to pray for miracles but I will also use the ones that God has already provided; the ones that reside in the GP surgeries or hospital etc etc. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

FYI - Another topic to mess with my head?

This week a blog post went viral.  I read it on a friend's facebook page. Some commentators found the original photos (now replaced) unhelpful to the message of the post.  I  found it uncomfortable that the girls did not get a second chance if they posted photos that were deemed unsuitable for the boys by their mum.  They were deleted from her sons' facebook accounts.  Is that the message I am giving my daughters?  You make a mistake and that is it?   

My children do not as yet have a Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking account; they are too young.  I believe wholeheartedly in modest dressing.  However, I am someone who has never worn a bikini and am completely uncomfortable with how I look.  I have a BMI within the normal limits for my height but still do not like my body.  I have curly hair and have worn glasses since I was 13.  Not your classical beauty.  :)  I DO NOT want my girls growing up being scornful of themselves as a person or their bodies.  I really hope that they live Godly lives and respect themselves holistically.  My question is:  How on earth do I teach them to not flaunt themselves in any way (because you can wear the most modest clothes and still flaunt yourself) AND to be confident in whom God has created them.  With all due respects if they carry on the way they are going they will turn into very attractive young women.

(Aside:  I have no idea why I am so caught up about myself.  In all honesty I know that I am not in bad shape for my age but I dislike wearing things that are too tight, too low, too short etc etc; and because of this I can have a tendency to overdo things.  In the past few years I have made myself wear clothes that aren't huge and baggy as this always looked ridiculous.  I discovered that dressing oddly can also make you stand out.) 

I believe that it is my job as a parent to monitor my children.  Parents have always done that, but nowadays the job is harder because of the Internet.  Girls posting inappropriate photos of themselves is very easy because of the access our young people have to computers.  I long to teach my girls to have respect for themselves without leaving them with hang-ups that will take a life time to sort out.  I also long to hide them from the world so that they are not harmed, but real-life isn't like that.  They will make mistakes but surely it is my role as a parent to show love and discipline in the right balance.  One without the other will only lead to hurt and harm. 

This post came at a good time as it gives me time to work out how to deal with this issue with my girls.  I want them to be Christians, to be confident in the skills and gifts that they have, to know that they are beautiful on the outside, to develop a beauty from within, to love and learn about God and others, to be kind and gentle and a whole myriad of other things.  I do not want them to see themselves as being whole only if they have a boyfriend.  To my girls go out and discover; there is a wonderful world out there.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Just wonderful.

I have many half-written blog posts which need deleting or editing so they are coherent enough to post.  Until I have done that, let me share this wonderful video I came across a few times on facebook and other blogs.  It does not need any explanation.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Bucket list revisited.

My bucket list from 2008. It is long and I have added comments.

Teach myself to Quilt.   I have taken up sewing again instead.  I have sewn a few garments, some bags and have lots of projects in mind that I intend to get to.  I am finding I see a pattern I like and try to adapt my patterns to fit the dress rather than buying new patterns all the time.

Visit a Amish Community to see their Quilting.

Get over my fear of flying.   I still need to do this.

Fly in a helicopter with my husband around our county.   Did I really write this?

Visit Canada, American, Italy.

Do some mission work in Eastern Europe.

Study for and pass a degree.

Learn to surf. I did a summer of body-boarding and am in the process of finding out if I am allowed in the sea again. Paddling is my limit at the moment.  However, I can still enjoy the beach environment.

Learn to drive. Yeah, I passed my test. Working on the driving confidence after my heart surgery.

Own a VW Beetle Car.  If this ever happens, I reckon it will be after the children have flown the nest.

I would love to go skiing again. The last time I tried I wasn't very good at it but it was such great fun.  I would be going on my own but this may not be the best idea with a 'fixed' sternum.

Get to a point in my life where I am happy being me. And not care what others think. Heart surgery puts your life in perspective.

Ride a Harley Davidson.

Climb Ben Nevis. When I get my old ticker back to full strength ....

Be able to play the piano proficiently. I play the piano on a regular basis now.

Teach my girls the basics of reading music.

Train my girls in the way of the Lord. 

Watch my girls become normal functioning adults who contribute to the world.

Meet up with on-line friends.

See my church become a beacon in our town.

Read some CS Lewis.

Write a poem or two.

To become a godly woman.

Spend some time in a really expensive hotel.  Stayed in a lovely place for our 20th wedding anniversary.

Develop a really fun relationship with my siblings.  Still working on this.  I am coming to the conclusion that I have different levels of relationship with each sibling.

Learn to pray in a Christ-like way. Work in progress.

I would love to go on a top-quality Cookery Course with my girls, in fact my husband could come along as well if he liked.

If I had my way (and the money!) I would make a spa/pamper day an annual feature of my life. And when my girls are old enough bring them along as well. I am not allowed to do the Sauna part but the other stuff is fine.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Water, Water everywhere, ....

I have lived in this area for 5 years.  Sad to say I haven't made the most of the environment around me.  Recently, I have had cause to visit the sea a number of times.  It is beautiful.  I paddled.  I got excited because I saw someone with the same scars as me in the water.  I went up to a complete stranger and asked about her experience and whether she had been given the all-clear to go in the sea.  I asked the Nurse at my practice, who has some experience in Cardio Nursing, her advice in my case.  She seems to think that because it was my valve replaced then going in the sea is off limits.  I am allowed to paddle.  I am going to ask my Cardio Nurse but it seems my body-boarding days are over.  I now regret the times I did not go in the sea but I can still go to the beach.  And I must make the most of that.  I really experience the power of God when I am watching the sea. 

I found another place where water is very important.  Well, sweat actually.  I have to do a lot of exercise to get my heart back to the condition it was in before the diagnosis of a dodgy heart valve.  It was recommended to me that I bought a heart monitor so I can exercise in my zone!  And I have been trying for a few months now.  I had one exercise session where I got a good reading; the rest of them I have had heart beats per minute all over the place.  I know something was not right when my bpm was 101 and then immediately 164.  (My zone is 110-122 taking into account my age and medication.)  I did a few searches on the web and found out what was going wrong.  I checked with my Cardio Nurse and she confirmed my findings.  The sensors on the chest strap need water (sweat) to work probably.  I jiggled with the chest strap and make sure that they are moistened at the start of the exercise session.  I am now getting much better readings and the crazy bpm jumps have stopped.  So for this lady the old maxim: "Ladies don't sweat, they glow." is not going to work.   I have even managed a few minutes jogging without being freaked out by my heart monitor.  Roll on 5k.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I have been sewing again for over a month now.  So far I have made:
  • A dress for daughter number 2.  (Made from old material I have bought years ago.)
  • A dress for daughter number 1.  (Made from material bought very cheap from a local shop.)
  • A dress for me.  (Made from material bought in a charity shop.)
  • A wrap-around skirt for me.  (Made from material I was given a long time ago.)  I used the techniques found on this blog but used a dress pattern that I have.  Thanks to Tilly and the buttons for the very clear instructions, it really helped.  If you want help learning to sew, then this is a great place to go.
  • A wrap-around dress.  (I got the material from a market stall in Plymouth.  And it isn't finished yet.)
  • A reversible bag.
I bought a stack of cloth from an online web shop and have found other places that sell cheap fabric.  I just need to work out how I can get to them.  The material I got has been earmarked for lots of different projects; and whilst it was good I may not buy a 'Lucky Dip' selection again.

I have learnt lots of lessons since starting to sew.  Here are some of them:
  • Read the instructions until you understand what it is saying before going anywhere near the sewing machine.
  • Measure twice, cut once.  To be fair, I learnt that one years ago but it is a good one to remember.
  • I need to replace the light bulb on my machine, it only went over 15 years ago!
  • Pressing the seams is a great thing to do and makes the clothes a lot easier to work with.
  • There are a load of fantastic sewing blogs out there, they are a great read.  They make beautiful clothes.
  • I have realised that I like clothes from the 1940s era.
  • Sewing goes way beyond clothes as I have found a bag and hat pattern that I will be trying soon.
  • Once you start it is difficult to stop thinking of different items that you would like to sew.
  • Youtube is like the village teacher as there are many different videos out there with instructions on how to make lots of great garments or how to get a certain technique correct.  
  • Sewing is a creative outlet for me.  I enjoy watching the fabric turn into something useful and good to look at.
  • It does one's soul good to make something you can be proud of.
So finally, my old sewing machine is getting a good workout and heres to many more projects.

Let me leave with photos of the latest item:

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Stereotypical Pastor's Wife

I am a Pastor's wife (or should I say a wife whose husband happens to be a Pastor) and have been for a long time.  All my married life my husband has been in Bible College or Church work.  For the first part of my marriage I tried to fit the stereotype; working alongside my husband in his ministry, all my activities being church-based, sorting out the food for many different church events, arranging Ladies events etc etc.  I enjoyed a lot of what I did but something did not always seem to fit.  I found that I went from being my parent's daughter to my husband's wife; one church wouldn't even use my name when we went to visit - we were always introduced as 'Insert my husband's name and his wife.'  I lost my identity.  And in retrospect my husband and I contributed to that in a whole myriad of different ways. I did not find a job because we were always going to have a baby which took a long time coming.  And I carried on and my identity slipped further away.   I had only ever wanted to be a wife and mother so had no other life goals.  Over the years my whole being was bound up in my husband's job of Pastor, so much so that many years ago when we went on holiday I was asked not to say what his job was and I was unable to tell anyone what I did.  Nothing I did was outside of his role as Pastor's wife.  It somehow got that bad. 

Thankfully, after that things improved slightly as I went back to College to study Child Care.  As part of that Course, I did a few hours placement in a local playgroup and school.   I enjoyed that and the small feeling of being me.

We moved churches and I was unable to do the Pastor's wife things as the church had a female worker who did them.  So I was once again in a position where my identity was not defined.  I drifted through days with not a lot to do; housework and cooking did not fill up all of my time.  So I got a job and for someone who was going to be a stay-at-home mum until my children were 16 that was a massive departure from the life I thought I would lead.  For various reasons the job did not work out, but I had got the taste of doing things outside of the role of Pastor's wife and I had enjoyed that part of it.  I was off work for about 6 months before finding the job I am in now.  Well, not exactly the same job but the same Employer.  I love my job and it is a good place to work. 

Over the nearly 5 years we have lived here I have slowly and painfully found my identity.  I am a Child of God made in His image, a wife to my husband no matter what his job is, a mother to my children, a friend, a daughter/sister amongst a few hats that I wear.  I am no longer trying to fit myself into the role of Pastor's wife although I love my PW friends online and in RL.  I do not feel the need (most of the time anyway) to try and measure my myself against other Pastors' wives.  God has used a great many life lessons to teach me that He has created me to be me and for this season of my life it is to work outside of the home, as well as create a place inside it.  I will not have the time to do all the things at church I used to do but I am using computer skills I have on a regular basis.  And there is no need to feel guilty if that is all I decide to do. 

I wish I could say that I would live my life the same way again, but alas there are many things I would do differently.  However, I am grateful for what I have learnt.  I see my husband in a different light now we are two individuals with lots to contribute to our marriage and it is much healthier.  We are still a duo just not in the way we imagined in our naivety back in the day. 

A side note:  As part of my recovery people had to look after me for a long time.  I could not cook, clean or even wash my hair to start with.  (Still cannot vacuum but I am not complaining.)  I had no control at all, I had to ask for everything.   The need to always be in control was soon taken away, thank the Lord.  And believe it or not this helped me to be more comfortable in finding my identify. I learnt to be proud of some of my achievements as well.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The question is .....?

Does anyone else ask themselves random questions?  Here is a selection of the ones that float through my head.
  1. Why can my husband hear supersonic sounds through walls but cannot hear me when I ask a question?
  2. What age should females stop wearing mini-skirts?
  3. Or does it matter if we show are wrinkly knees?  (I hope not because my most recent sewing project is shorter than I planned due to a lack of fabric!)
  4. If my phone is in my pocket, why does the alarm to alert me to the fact that I need to take my Warfarin still make me jump after all this time of taking the drug?
  5. Why do you not have time to read?
  6. Why does my laugh sound like it would be at home in a fish market?
  7. Why do slugs like beer?
  8. How can my youngest daughter sing for a hour non-stop?
  9. What have spiders done to gain their bad name?
  10. How can Dr Who regenerate again when he has used up his regeneration count?
  11. Did Rosencrantz and Guildernstern know they were dead?
  12. Did Sam Beckett ever make it home?
  13. How did someone decide that Salty Caramel would be a good flavour to try?
  14. Why does English English use more letters than American English?
  15. How come I can never find the right word when I need it?
  16. Why are jokes about flatulence always funny no matter how old you are?  (They aren't, is that just me then?)
  17. Why does everyone have an artistic talent of some description?
  18. What did I come into the room for?
  19. Do I always get to embarrass my children?
  20. Why did I write this blog post?

And  now a homage to a little boy who asked lots of questions:

Sunday, 9 June 2013

What's in a name?

I love names.  I love the way they sound; how different ones blend together perfectly.  I had names all planned out for my children, but it did not work out that way.  I am just grateful our children were able to have one name from us, and also that their given names are wonderful.  If I had had a boy he would have been called 'Benjamin Theodore', it sounds so grand to me and goes well with my surname..

Last year, a very good friend of mine sent me a book about the names of God.  I read about one of His names each week and have been greatly encouraged by it.  It mostly covers Old Testament names.  The author has written another book with the names of Jesus.  I have enjoyed thinking about the names of God and therefore different aspects of His personality.  I have made a 'Wordle' here of those names in their Hebrew and English forms.  I would like to say I have remembered them all but I just copied them from the book!

Wordle: Names of God
 Wordle: Names of God2     

Monday, 3 June 2013

So Long, Farewell.

No, not to the world of blogging, but to my Surgeon.  Today is 16 weeks since my Surgery and, I went for my 6 week check-up.  I am glad their surgery was better than their administration!  :)  In fact, I did not even get to see the Surgeon as I was seen by one of his Registrars.  As I only have met my Surgeon twice (technically 3 times but one of those I was somewhat anaesthetised. :) ), I did not mind one bit.  It was nice to see the Registrar's familiar smile.  He asked a lot of questions, checked the state of the scar, listened to my lungs and the valve.  I was then sent for an ECG, after which I was discharged. 

So, all being well that will be the last I see of that Surgical team.  I still have an appointment with my Cardiologist next week but am hoping the same thing will happen; a quick turn-about appointment with no further follow-up necessary. 

I like that sort of goodbye. 

I was not so keen on the one the other day though.  Last week we went on holiday to a quaint little cottage on the edge of Dartmoor.  Dartmoor is a wonderful place to visit.  I love being back home but really miss the rugged countryside that we drove past every day.  I  miss the sheep and ponies that decided a road was definitely a good place to sit down and rest.  We had a lot of sunshine on our holiday; Dartmoor is exquisite in the sun.  The drama of the place is seen during bad weather.  I love Dartmoor and it is the only place that I would happily return for a rest.

Auf weidersehen,  Dartmoor National Park.  Until the next time.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ancient and Modern Combined.

I am reading a few devotional books at the moment.  One is a compilation of different Bible verses set in themes for the day.  The other is a daily hymn with a short biographical section about the author or composer.  It is a great book, although so far no good hymns have been written since about 1920!

Last Saturday, our church did a sponsored walk.  I felt that the 7 miles around the Lake was too much at the moment. However, not to let a small thing like heart surgery get in the way I decided to walk half of it.  My husband found a place we could park half-way around the route, and we met the rest of the walkers near the beach.  Whilst waiting for them to arrive, I read my daily hymn (it is a kindle book on my phone).  I  sat on a rock looking at some beautiful trees, a wonderfully built old house on the hill in the distance, a fresh water lake to my right and the sea to my left.  The sound of water gently lapping the edge of the sand bar and birds singing were all around me.  The scene was absolutely idyllic.  This was the hymn I read:

"This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres. 
This is my Father's world:   I rest me in the thought 
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; 
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:  He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world, O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:  the battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav'n be one."

By Maltbie Davenport Babcock 

How wonderful to have an opportunity to look at the wonderful things around me.  On the walk I noticed amazing blossom, deep purply bluebells, cows bumbling in their field munching their breakfast of grass, a cheeky robin, bright yellow gorse and many other spectacular examples of Creation.  I enjoyed that early morning walk around the Lake and was glad to be able to take part.

Looking at the house on the hill from my rock.  Imagination is required for the lake and sea.  This photo does no justice to the beauty or ambiance of the scene.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee - My style

A long time ago in a land far away, I had to choose what exams I wanted to take at 16.  I have vague memories of a blue/grey piece of paper with columns on it.  All the students were to select a subject from a variety of different areas, eg, a Humanity (History), a Language (German), a Science (Biology) etc.  We were also allowed topick an Art; as I have blogged before that is a no-go area for me.  So I decided to have a go at Needlework.  I have no idea what led me to that subject as I do not remember hours as a child with needle and thread, but then I do not remember much from my childhood but that is another post altogether.

Over the 2 years studying Needlework I am sure that I learnt many techniques and how to sew with different fabrics.  Eventually I got a CSE in Needlework, after making a passable Pinafore Dress with a long-sleeved T-shirt to match and a cuddly dog.

A few years after gaining that exam I made a wedding dress and 2 bridesmaids' dresses for my wedding.

 I made the flowers for the sleeves, the large bow at the back and  all the covered buttons and loops whilst commuting to work and during my lunch times.  Not a bad effort, even if I do say so myself.  It is nearly 20 years since that picture was taken and I have not done a great deal of sewing since.  I have made another wedding dress and a few more bridemaids' dresses, as well as the obligatory outfit for the school dress up days.

I have had a lot of time on my hands recently, and before my surgery I planned to do a lot of reading and teaching myself a new craft. To be perfectly honest, I did not think the latter would happen as I know my personality and how I can get side-tracked.  However, somebody alerted me to the 'Great British Sewing Bee' and I was inspired to dust off the sewing machine.  Over the years, I have found many excuses why I have not done any proper dress-making; laziness, 'I am far too busy' and the cost of materials (which will still be a sticking point so I am on the look-out for cheap fabrics!)  I have a very large box full of materials and found some which I have managed to turn into a dress for my youngest daughter.  I found a pattern which I adapted and fitted to her size.  I am pleased with the way it has turned out (although being me I can list all the mistakes I can see but I am fighting that tendency. :))

My next project is a Maxi Dress for my other daughter.  I am researching patterns and will need to make one up myself.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Parenting is not for wimps.

Although, it might turn you into one or a blubbering wreck.  :)

We have had an issue bubbling around in our house for a very long time.  It has effected our family in a massive way.  My daughter had got into the habit of screaming.  All the time. It has been her 'go-to' response to everything.  As her mum I thought there was nothing I could do, it was the way she was made.  I was in a lot of despair about the whole thing as it was becoming the background soundtrack of our family.  I prayed.  I prayed with my husband.  A very close friend prayed.  Nothing seemed to help.  I got to the point where reading facebook was painful; my family was nothing like all the shiny, happy ones I read about on my friends' pages.

Last week we got the answer to our prayers.  I was expecting a very different answer, not one that required  humiliation on my part.  One day last week very early before school, something triggered my daughter to go into one of her screaming sessions.  I responded in my usual way. And then there was a knock on the door.  Our neighbour came to tell us she couldn't stand it any more.  She had put up with it for nearly 5 years.  It had to stop.  (And lots of other things that don't need repeating here.)  It was not a pleasant experience to be told your daughter was awful.  It was not nice to find out your neighbour thought you allowed your daughter to rule the roost.  I did not want to be told that my parenting skills were lacking in that area.  It is something I never want to have to go through again.

BUT it was the answer to my prayers.  It was the wake-up call I needed to put my parenting onto another track. It was the jolt I needed to apologise for mistakes made and to promise to do things in a different way.  I would not have chosen that answer; my answer looked more like this:  My daughter came to the understanding that her behaviour had consequences through her own maturity.  I am sure that the road ahead will be rocky but so far, it has been easier.  The structures in place leave more time for building positive relationships in our home, and I have been reminded that underneath all that screaming a beautiful girl has been hidden all along. 

I thank God for this happening and am grateful to my neighbour for having the courage to come around and let us know her thoughts on this.  I somehow feel liberated now that the screaming has (all but) stopped, my head and heart are clearer and I am able to work other things through better. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Old Boys Network??

Yesterday, I read the name of an American Pastor in 3 different blogs (and I am sure it appeared in lots of others).  He just happens to have a book coming out.  I had never heard of this chap before.  I read the first blog post and thought, "Looks interesting, I might look into this book and his blog."  And when I saw his name in the second post I thought, "Wow, maybe I really ought to take a look.  Perhaps this is a sign."  However, when I read his name on a 3rd post I realised that this was a way to promote said book. I felt a modicum of disappointment, although I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe, it was because it did not feel like coincidence that his name appeared in 3 blogs on the same day.

More and more in the Christian blogsphere, I am noticing these kinds of connections.  I read some fantastic bloggers/writers, and never see them quoted or publicised elsewhere (and if it was not for the fact I do not have their permission I would put their blog titles here.)  They don't Guest Post "XYZ" ever. 

There is a phrase:  "It is not what you know but who you know that counts."  And that is true in many walks of life, including Church Circles.  I hope this is not what is happening here because sometimes there seems to be that vibe to it.  Occasionally, it feels like the 'Old Boy's Network' that the same bloggers are so desperately trying to escape from. 

Maybe, this is my cynicism showing through, lets hope it is the case.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Beatiful Butterfly

The other night as we were kissing the girls goodnight, one of them was wrapped up like a caterpillar in a cocoon.  It got me thinking.  When the girls were small one of our favourite books was 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle.

We loved that book, and read it over and over again.  Alas, they are too old for me to read it to them now.  Thankfully, I work with small children and can read it at my place of employment.

I feel a little like that caterpillar.  Not in terms of eating you understand, but metaphorically.  Way back in 1970 I was born, a small little baby ready for life.  As a child I remember being confident, and things nor people bothered me.  However, at some stage I allowed myself to become intimidated by life in general.  I began to think that everyone was better than me, in all things.  I told myself that lie, until it had worn a deep well travelled rut in my head.  I lost confidence and lived in a cocoon.  It was safe in there and I was less likely to get hurt. I preached to myself a message of 'You are not worth much', even though I  [actually should read: thought I]  believed that God took me for who I am!

Over the past few months it feels like I am coming out of that cocoon.  I hope and pray that I am emerging as a beautiful butterfly.  I am seeking to learn about my role as a woman:  what should I be doing?  How should I act?  What clothes should I wear?  What does the bible mean to me? At the moment, I have come to the conclusion that I am to live as a person made in the image of God: To love Him and serve Him and others wholeheartedly.  A lot is written in Christian blogs etc about Feminism or Submission of women under men - I really do not know what my thoughts on this are any more.  It was easier when I was dogmatic about this doctrine! 

I do know that by the grace of God, I have a certain amount of strength and I need to hold onto that.  I also, have come to realise that misplaced guilt has no place in my life.  Guilt that is real must drive me to repentance and change, but that is not what I am talking about here.  So, for now I want to live as a butterfly and show the beauty that God has produced in me to my family and the rest of the world.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Oh to be an artist.

I have always maintained that I am not an artist.  I have a real envy of those who can take a sketch book and recreate wonderful scenes.  My dad can draw and paint; and my 2 sisters follow in his footsteps.  I, on the other hand, take after my mum.  I may be up to a few stick figures scribbled on a piece of paper but that is the extent of my artistic ability.  In my mind art = creativity.  So if I cannot draw then I am not creative.  Or so, the logic went in my grey cells.

Well, that is what I have always told myself.  As I get older I am realizing that art is not the only area where a person can be creative.  I am discovering a small area where my creative side can be indulged, without costing me a fortune.  My daughters are extremely 'girly-girls' and they both have lovely medium to long ginger hair.  Recently, I came across a marvelous place on Youtube:  'Cute Girls Hairstyles'.  I have attempted a few styles already and they have not turned out too badly.  So hopefully, I will learn more and expand my creative nature. 

And when, I find an outlet for cheap fabric (locally or on-line), I will dust off my sewing machine and make some beautiful dresses to go with the fancy hairstyles.  If I keep practicing both I will be ready in time for the eldest daughter's prom in 4 years time.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Oasis of peace.

At church we have been going through the gospel of John.  We are near the end and have looked at the Easter story from that perspective.  One thing struck me at the end of Chapter 20 is that Jesus says to his disciples 3 times;  "Peace be with you." 

 Peace, is something that I need a lot of at the moment as my home can be really loud for a whole variety of different reasons.  Sometimes, it is my children not agreeing with what they have been asked to do  (Read: 2 girls who can shout a lot).  Sometimes, they are playing in a way which seems incredibly loud to my post-surgery self.  At other times it is the noise which emanates from the stereo or the WII. And then there are the friends which come to play occasionally.

Since, coming home from hospital I have learnt a lot of things about myself and how I deal with things.  One thing I now know is that I need peace and quiet; a small oasis of it each day.  I didn't realise how much until recently.  Realistically, I cannot crawl into a cave each day so I am trying to crave out areas of peace within me and without.  I am learning to make peace within even if the outside world is crazy.

From my reading of the scriptures I glean Jesus needed peace too.  He had the peace of God within His heart.  I need that and I thank God, that it is more evident nowadays.  I can cultivate that by reading my Bible, helpful devotional books, prayer and hymns, friendship with other Christians; basically developing a stronger relationship with Jesus.  Another way to have an inner peace is to stop comparing myself to others.  I have to work on being me; sometimes I will look the same as the people around me and other times I will look different. 

However, maybe because I have a weak faith, I am learning that I need some peace in my outside environment as well.  The constant stream of noise which goes with 21st living is not conducive to stopping my transformation into a grumpy old woman.  Unfortunately, I was not born with my mum's natural optimism towards life so developing inner peace is harder work.  With that in mind, I am seeking out ways of getting peace/being more peaceful.  Here are a few of my discoveries:

  • Groove Shark has a large selection of relaxation music.  Listening to it does something to my soul.
  • Walking has a calming influence.
  • I have recently discovered that I have a talent to style my girl's hair.  Being creative brings its own calm.
  • Reading a whole variety of different books.
  • Playing the piano.  OK, so technically, that produces noise but somehow it makes me more peaceful on the inside.
  • Searching for positive things and writing them in my special note-book.
  • Actively seeking good positive friendships.
  • Making this quote one of many to live by:  "Don't let the beggars get you down." 
  • Excepting the real me and being positive about the achievements I have made.
  • Finding the peace of God through a better friendship with Him.

    Friday, 15 March 2013

    Joni's Testimony regarding Suffering.

    Joni's Corner | Joni and Friends

    This is a talk by Joni Eareckson Tada.  I have known her story for years but have only recently come across her blog.  This is a good talk to listen to, it will take 40 minutes.

    Friday, 8 March 2013

    A remarkable lady.

     When I read this on Sarah Bessey's blog I struggled at first to think who I would write about.  My mum has influenced my life greatly; as have my sisters in completely different ways.  I have many wonderful friends (IRL and on-line) who have taught me so much.  I didn't write yesterday and then I remembered an amazing lady.  Ironically, she was a Spinster but such a spiritual blessing.

    Miss B. had lived for many years with her sister, and then alone.  We visited her on a semi-regular basis and always came away uplifted.  She was only able to come to church once in a while.  Through the years we learnt her life story, and in many ways it was a sad one.  She had cared for her strong-willed mum, and because of that had sacrificed career and marriage.  She had been in love but her mum wouldn't let her marry.  She had wanted to train as a Doctor but that wasn't allowed either.  This wonderful Christian lady never complained; she told the story as a matter of fact not of complaint.  She smiled and laughed a lot and it was contagious.  She served her God by caring for her mum and then others.  In her latter years she was only able to walk slowly across her room with the aid of crutches.  She was determined and would make us cups of tea.  It wasn't unknown to enter her house and find her in the kitchen propped up by the oven making marmalade in a 100 year old copper pot.  She loved Jesus with a very deep love and would talk about Him every time we went.  During the end of her life she was unable to live in her own home so was moved to a beautiful Residential Home and it was there she died.  We still have her 'Common Book of Prayer' in our book collection which we use occasionally.

    Wednesday, 27 February 2013

    Tick, tick, tick.

    I was told that I would hear my heart valve tick.  Whilst in hospital I wondered if they had put the correct kind of valve in because I didn't hear it.  I heard it tick the first night I came home.  It sounds weird but it is a good sound as it means that I am better; that I have a valve that is doing the job properly.

    Obviously, having a valve that ticks means I am through surgery.  I had a couple of false-starts but eventually a date became available when my Surgeon was working and the Intensive Care beds were available.  This time 3 weeks ago I lost a day; according to my husband I was incredibly sleepy.  The staff needed to be firm in order for me to give a verbal response to their questions.  I must have satisfied their targets because they let me go back to the Cardio-thoracic ward.  Two days after surgery I was out of bed and sitting in a chair.  However, I wasn't really with it and didn't want to eat.

    Three weeks on I am 'back to normal' (in terms of consciousness!), eating lots and walking upto 20 minutes at a time.  As far as I can tell from the Medical Personnel I have seen all is going well.  I regularly attend the INR clinic to have my Warfarin levels checked, have a phone number to arrange my Cardio Rehab and await a 6 week post-op check.

    I thank God for the steps so far.  Each day is a miracle and looks very much the same but I don't mind.  I got through Open Heart Surgery and I am in the recovery stage.  A typical day for me at the moment is:

    • Wake up and get out of bed.
    • Read my Bible Devotional and book of Hymns.
    • Eat breakfast and take some tablets.  
    • Surf the net.
    • Shower.
    • Walk; now the they are longer I can have a purpose (eg: go to the shops to buy something.)  Next week I will go for the walks by myself.
    • Sit and read my book.  Or do some puzzles.
    • Have some lunch.
    • Sleep for at least an hour.
    • Read some more.  Spend time with any visitors.
    • Dinner (some of them are being provided by Church friends.)
    • Evening snuggle routine with the family.
    • After the girls have gone to bed we watch one of our TV series.
    At the moment, this routine is suiting me fine and I will adapt it when necessary.  I am determined to take this recovery slowly and get fit and strong.  

    Saturday, 26 January 2013

    This time next week .....

    .... I should be well over the operation part of my hospital stay.  God willing I will be in Intensive Care or High Dependency with most of the tubes removed.  I am looking forward to the surgery being in my past, instead of in my future.  Obviously, I will have a long recovery period but that is planned and I should get plenty of medical support. 

    So in no particular order of importance, I give you the lessons that I have learnt:

    • God is good even when I do not understand what the heck is going on.
    • I am not always going to remember that God is good when the worries of life overwhelm me.
    • Christians are very supportive.  I have people praying for me and my family all over the UK and in other parts of the world.
    • Small manageable routines are great for sanity.  eg, write that diary entry every day.  Look for positive comments and quotes.
    • Writing with a fountain pen is therapeutic.
    • Take one day at a time as my human mind is not equipped to deal with so big a wait for any longer than that.  
    • Relaxation therapy is good and some of that music makes me feel so dreamy and (wait for it) relaxed.
    • I am stronger than I thought I was.
    • Hospitals and Drs are not all of the devil, they are there to help.
    • Sedation is a great way to get through really difficult medical tests. I need to take it if I need it and drop the 'tough girl' routine, it does not suit me.  Not all of us are like my mum who can have some dental treatment without anything to numb our gums!!!
    • I am very grateful for modern medical advancement even if it meant I had to swallow a probe the size of a water hose. ;)
    • Stop the guilt.  I was hoping to go through this experience with 'that peace' that people talk about.  I have not always had it.  When I stopped feeling guilty about it and admitted that this is BIG and anxiety etc was normal, I started feeling more positive towards the whole situation.
    • It stinks having a dodgy heart valve that needs replacing.
    • I am not afraid of dying (I know where my future lies) BUT I do not want my daughters to be without me.  They have already lost one mum.
    • I am nervous of complications of surgery going wrong etc.
    • I would love a rest from life's trials.  Please.
    • My fear/anxiety about hospitals etc is part of me and probably will not go away this side of heaven.   I am not abnormal to feel this way.
    • The human mind is an amazing thing and can block out huge things in order to make living possible.
    • Emotions are strong and can come from nowhere.  I do not want to fight them, ignore them or bury them but just use them to live life to the full.
    • People are flippant in tricky times because they do not know what to say.
    • Humour is great even when facing major surgery. 
    • Try not to sweat the small stuff.
    • I love my running and exercise and cannot wait to get back to it.
    • My job is great and a distraction from my own thoughts.  I love it.
    • People are wonderful and caring.  I have had offers of help (in all manner of ways) from people at church, work and other places. 
    • Family is important.
    • My husband can cook real food and may be a contender for the 'best cook in this house' title.
    • There is always someone in a worse situation than you.

    I am sure there are lots more things I have learnt along this path.  I will learn a whole other set of them during my period of recovery and recuperation.  I may blog them when they become apparent but let me leave you with this quote that I stumbled across.

    Wednesday, 23 January 2013

    Well, I never expected that.

    I am glad to say that my Transesophageal echocardiogram (basically a swallowed probe that emitted an ultrasound beam millimetres from my heart to get a clear stuctural picture) is finally over.  I would like to say that I was brave and managed it without sedation, but I was given a number of shots of  'jungle juice' (as the Dr called it) to aid me through the process.  Needless to say some parts of the test are hazy.  I know that it happened but my mind says I was away from the ward for about 30 minutes where in reality I was gone for 2 hours.  So even though it didn't appear on my bucket list it is something else that I can say I have done.
    Today, I came across the following video about people doing amazing things.  (   It got me wondering what I could do when I am fixed and maybe, add a few non-medical things to the inventory of achievements I am notching up! 

    Sunday, 13 January 2013


    I have not made any New Year's resolutions this year.  I do not think it is realistic to do so when I will spend at least 3 months recovering from Surgery and then many more months getting back to my new normal.  I would love to be able to get back to some kind of exercise routine later on this year, and this should be feasible as part of my recuperation is going to Cardiac Rehab.  I also look forward to a time later this year when we can go on a really special family holiday.

    So instead of resolutions I have chosen a word (as I did last year).  This year my word is TRUST.  In the light of what I am going through in a few weeks time I thought it was incredibly apt.  I need to learn to trust God a lot more.  I have taken to writing quotes etc in my book again and one of the Hymns I recorded there is the following one:

    Simply trusting every day;
    Trusting through a stormy way;
    Even when my faith is small,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.

    Singing if my way be clear,
    Praying if the path be drear;
    If in danger, for Him call,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.

    Trusting Him while life shall last,
    Trusting Him till earth is past,
    Till His gracious advent call,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.

    Trusting as the moments fly,
    Trusting as the days go by,
    Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.

    I am going to be out of action for some time and part of TRUST will be that I put in other people.  I will have to let people help me.  I will have to allow those close, and those not so, to do the things that I now take for granted until I am able to do them again.   I will need to spend some time during my 'getting better' to work out this issue in my life.  I will need to learn to drop the suspicions I have of some people and believe that some will actually like me.  There is a lot that I need to learn this year and I hope that the time off (not relaxing as some people seem to think.  I can think of much better ways to get 12 weeks off!!! Sorry, I digress) will afford me some time to work through these issues.