Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Miriam.

Along time ago (more than 10 years), I was being prayed for by a wonderful sister in Christ called Ginny, I cannot remember why she was praying for me but my husband was with me.  Before we parted she told me that she saw me as having a life like Miriam.  I don't know whether I looked into this much at the time, I had quite forgotten about it until my husband out of the blue mentioned it to me the other day.

So the last few days I have been reading about her in the Bible (there is not alot in there) and reading some on-line notes that have been written about her life, a very good brief snapshot is given here .  In some ways it is suddenly quite frightening, in other ways quite re-assuring.

I have had a life full of many fantastic blessings and experiences, it has also been punctuated by some very painful experiences.  I am sure it is not unique and many people experience the same.  What I am sure about is all these experiences need to be pondered to consider the way forward.  Miriam made mistakes, I most certainly have done that, however she learnt from them, her faith was strengthened by them and her leadership qualities remained strong.

I am hoping that this is a quality of Miriam that I can have - the ability to learn from mistakes and have my faith strengthened on the journey.

The more frightening aspect of Miriam is her final fate, she never reached the Promised Land with her brother Moses.  Along with her other brothers she perished in the wilderness.  However I can hang on to another aspect of her life that I found out about at this site although she died in the wilderness in a place where there was no water, "Immediately after her death, God gave abundant water to the people, in the form of a spring". Maybe I will be one of the many people who do not make a lasting mark while living but maybe if I can stay faithful to God I might just be able to leave behind a legacy that will continue to refresh others - quite a mind blowing way to start a new year me thinks.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Trying to be Me



For a little time now I have been wanting to change the title of my blog, this last year has been a year of finding myself.  I have to say, I think I might have jolly well done so!  therefore having the title trying to find me just no longer feels appropriate, hence my new title 'Trying to be Me'.
Now I have no idea if this is going to mess folks google readers up or not, if it has then I apologise - though you may not know that I am doing so!

So as I continue to enjoy this Christmas time, and look forward to a new year (and my blog anniversary) I feel like a little change and hope you might come along for the ride.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Finding some space.

Last Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my mum and dad who drove the 140 miles from the midlands to stay with us. It is the first time I have every cooked a Christmas lunch for them (though could not have done it without mums help). We opened presents just from each other, went for a lovely walk around the wooded areas of our estate. But it was strained, when someone you love is missing the hole just sits there raw and throbbing. For me this second Christmas without my sister is painful but so far better than last year. I have had the time to enjoy doing and making Christmassy stuff. For my mum, this year she is 'feeling'. Last year the pain was numbing and with house clearing and stuff to do she just drifted through it with my dad.



The culmination of emotions hit a low on Saturday evening and I ended up going to bed at 8.30pm. This did give me time to think and pray about how we could move on the following morning. The idea that came into my head was to go to a little place that I know in the New Forest. It is only a 20 minute car ride from our house it is a little off the normal touristy stopping bits, it used to be an old airfield. When you finally get to the car park this is the sight that greats you:





It is one of those places that I had always wanted to take my sister to, as she was an avid bird watcher and we have been with friends and had tiny birds come and eat from our hands at this point. Just me, my niece and my mum and dad went armed with a big tin of bird seed. It was just perfect. We all found some space.




I made friends with several of the New Forest ponies, one young foal experiencing her first winter kept following me as I hobbled away.


My niece and I both stayed still and tried to entice the little birds to come feed from our hands, alas not this time.
My mum remembered that she had been here before. It must have been on one of the odd occasions in years past when my parents came down with my sister and her daughter and they took my children out for the afternoon to this very spot.
I shall definitely be going back, this is my space to remember my sister close to home. I am very grateful to my daddy for taking these pictures for me.




Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Our Christmas Tree

When my husband and I were dating we used to belong to a fabulous home group where we were fed, watered and nurtured by an extremely loving American couple. In fact my wedding dress was made upon their dining table (it was the only one big enough!). I used to love their Christmas decorations, their tree was covered in all sorts of decorations and they explained to us the tradition that they had grown up with where a new ornament was placed on the tree every year.





We had been married for 7 months by the time we had our first Christmas together. However our very first decoration was acquired on our honeymoon! We were passing through Monterrey in California and saw a Christmas shop and just could not resist getting this decoration.




As you can see 13 years later the salt dough is not fairing too well, but it started our collection of tree decorations.


Every year at least one new decoration has been added, I have a few more that I thought you might like to see,



this one was to celebrated the first Christmas of our first child.



these ones I made for my 2nd child's first Christmas, pictures of the pair of them which I popped into little craft frames and hung on with ribbon.

Of course since the children have come along there have been lots and lots of homemade decorations made, these are two different angels that I got all the children in our Junior church making many years ago.


This beautiful pair are from America again, this time we were seeing some of New England in the 'fall' and happened upon a Christmas shop and found these lovely clay angels.


It has been a real delight the last few years when the children have gotten old enough to appreciate some of the more delicate decorations and have joined in decorating the tree. They love to hear the stories of where different decorations have come from and have a good giggle at the ones they have made. This year will be our 2nd Christmas with our eldest since her mummy died. Last year she was just a 'guest', this year she is part of our nuclear family. She did not want to help decorate the tree and took some time out by herself while the younger two took part.




However I was very relieved when she came back in and joined us to have the honour of putting the angel on the top (the other two have never done this as they are not tall enough!). With all the Christmas cuddly toys, hats and bits lots of fun was had and we managed to get a lovely family photo (once husband had worked out how to do the self timer on his camera).

Happy Christmas from us all to you x x x x x

Friday, 11 December 2009

When do you pray?



After a funny and very honest conversation with my husband this morning I thought I would try and get some of it written down. We don't often get chance to do this but have been trying to get into a more regular pattern of praying every day with each other (we have two set times aiming to do at least one of them depending on his shift pattern).


I had, had a rotten nights sleep (seems to be the norm at the moment), one of the things that I found myself thinking about was prayer. I had had a lovely couple of days doing stuff that I wanted to do (am making a lot of Christmas presents as I have the time this year). What suddenly struck me was how little I had prayed or given thanks to God! I had given plenty of praise to those around me who were making this possible (my children and husband), but not The One!


That left me thinking - how come when things are dire and I am feeling stressed I can live my days in His Arms, often finding Peace and managing to get through my day. Then I can have other days like the last couple, they were lovely days but when I look back on them they feel as though they were a bit Godless.


After telling my husband about this he has a similar feel about his days with/without God. They have different slant to mine but he is left with a similar feeling. I have to confess I do feel a little relieved that he told me that. I'm not going to beat myself up about this but am glad that I have been shown it. Maybe from now on there is a chance that I will catch myself when I am running into one of those thankful days and remember to thank Him who deserves it as well as those that surround me physically who need to hear it.


I am also quite certain that the quandary would also be minimised if I spent my new 'Time' with a new set pattern of prayer and quiet time to suit it. I'm not rushing to do this, the prayer time with hubby is a good start. Any suggestions would be very welcome!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Where I am at.

I can't believe a whole week has gone by without blogging once, in fact I have hardly thought about blogging - except for thinking I'm not doing it!

I have been feeling rather tongue tied for the last month or so really as I made a decision back at the end of October which has put life into a rather different light. Trying to return to work as a children and youth Pastor for our local Parish did not work. I am mentally and physically still quite a wreck. I know the time of year has not helped with it being the first anniversary of my sisters death, but my knees are still bad and are causing more difficulties to occur in my ankles and my back. Taking on my sisters 12 year old has also been far more challenging than I could ever have imagined. She is dyslexic and is currently being assessed for ADD (attention deficit disorder) which she may need medication for, this on top of her obvious emotional difficulties following the death of her mother! So I approached our church wardens and requested 6 months unpaid leave, if they hadn't been happy to grant this then I would have handed in my resignation.

Having work on top of all these other issues was just too much. It is a horrible feeling to be constantly feeling like I was failing in all areas. It felt so unfair on the people of our parish who pay my wages for me not doing the job. Overnight I felt God reminding me that he wanted to grant my heart desire (Psalm 37:4). That threw up another question to me - what was my hearts desire? After much prayer and searching I realised that what I wanted most of all was to feel as though I was doing something well! It was obvious that I could not do my job well and help my family well at the same time. So the decision was made to make the request that I did to our wardens (this is because I church has been in an interregnum all year so I have not really had a boss!). Fortunately they jumped at the opportunity of me NOT resigning and so I am now officially on unpaid leave!

The relief that I have had since doing this, though it is going to make our finances extremely tight, has been immense. Maybe what I shall do in the weeks to come is make a (small) list of things that I would like to also achieve in this time! In the mean time, it feels like the family is already coping better (or I am with it!). I am really looking forward to enjoying this advent season and quite excited about Christmas this year. Blessings to you all, love Jane x.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Redemptive Beauty.

A few weeks ago when reading one of my favourite blogs of the moment, I came across the phrase "redemptive beauty". Ann Voskamp talks about finding beauty, you can read her great post and see some fabulous photos here. She starts her post with this quote:





"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely." Louisa May Alcott.





I am familiar with phrases such as - "something good will come out of this", phrases that when you are hurting often feel very trite. However I have found the experience of looking at physical objects that do not have any obvious beauty, has brought me amazing peace. We had a bit of a storm a few weeks ago and as a result my husband cut down the last of the children's sunflowers so that it didn't get wrecked outside and we could at least enjoy its last days in our home.





This has become the focus and reminder of "redemptive beauty", as you will see it is looking rather sorry for itself now:


However when I look at this, I can marvel at Gods creation. Now that the petals are starting to fall I can see with greater clarity the new seeds which are still growing and drying in the flowers heart. This is surely redemptive beauty, a beauty that is willing to pass on it's looks, to sacrifice it's very being in order to produce seed, new seeds that can be planted.

Seeing this process makes me feel willing to wade through all the rubbish that I am surrounded by at the moment. Every time I glance at this I am reminded of the redemptive beauty of the Cross. This brings me to a place of unending gratitude. This is where I need to come when I feel the rubbish around me closing in. I am free, I have been made a new creation, I am with my Father in Heaven for all of eternity, only because of the the ugliness that Jesus went through for me.

That does not mean that I can take down my guard though. I woke up in the night last night (not an unusual thing at the moment), I felt compelled to pray the Lords Prayer. So I started, and re-started and felt absolutely devastated to suddenly realise that I could not remember it all, odd lines kept swimming around in my head but not the whole thing. Fortunately I keep a bible next to my bed, and inside this particular one I have a beautiful sheet which expresses the Lords Prayer through sign language. My little reading torch came on and I read it over and over again, in my minds eye doing all the actions, until at last I could close my eyes and recite it once again. I can often be awake for hours, mulling over all the rubbish that surrounds me, on this occasion though I was able to close my eyes and drift off back to sleep in the complete comfort of this prayer.

So my guard is still up, my sunflower is still drooping, but I think it will stay there just a little longer while the rubbish around me still lingers and I will continue to ponder on "redemptive beauty" some more.

Friday, 13 November 2009

When Fellowship becomes broken.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6



As I alluded to yesterday in this post my life is a very windy (as in winding a clock not as in having excess gas to get rid of!) road at the moment. I am praying for God to make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). Now I do know that this is not going to happen without some hard work by myself. I am also aware that I do not have a lot of energy at the moment, but I do have some time (will be able to explain that by this time next week I hope).





This morning while reading Scripture Unions Word Live notes I was really struck by the following:








It is very easy to disrupt the beauty of fellowship. Here’s a list of some ways to do it:


● gossip


● insensitivity


● negative criticism


● jealousy


● backbiting


● an unforgiving spirit


● a ‘root of bitterness’ (Hebrews 12:15)


● failure to appreciate others


● self-preoccupation


● greed


● selfishness





(Adapted from Bruce Milne, The Message of John, BST; IVP, 1993)





Reading through this list I can see points that I do (or have) as well as plenty that I have done to me. Now the only way I feel I can deal with the circumstances of people doing the above stuff to me is by withdrawing away from them, that I have tried to do already. But I am making a commitment today to make beautiful fellowship a priority in my life again, I shall try and do it by repeatedly bringing it in prayer to God as well as regularly looking back on this post to try and improve in the areas that I need to.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sacrificial Love.


This week I feel like I have been through a mangle. However it hasn't half made me think about sacrificial love.


I have been working very hard on something, feeling that I am doing the 'right' thing, and then have suddenly found that I do not have the immediate outcome I wanted. The result of this is that I feel quite devastated.


So I have a decision to make, I can stay devastated, or I can just jolly well learn a lesson.


If I stay devastated I am going to be awful to live with and am going to completely undo all the good relationship building stuff that I have spent the whole week working on. That seems a very silly immature response.


I do believe that I have been doing the 'right' thing. However maybe I haven't been doing it completely for the 'right' reason. I do understand that sacrificial love means having no conditions, complete unconditional love is sacrificial. That is the example that Jesus set us. That is the example that Paul set us in the new testament, so I can't use the excuse that I'm just a mere mortal person. It is therefore possible to express sacrificial love and I obviously have a long way to go in learning to express it.


So I shall try and learn my lesson, be pleased with the fact that I did do the 'right' thing and move on. So easy to write but I do know it is going to be a very very hard lesson to learn.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Jane Austens House



Last week I had my step mother-in-law from Manchester staying from Tuesday to Saturday. She has always been a regular visit to see us in the South, however with all that has happened to us in the last 18 months (the death of my mother in law and my sister amongst other things) we have not been able to accommodate her. I have not been physically or mentally up to doing much and when discussing what we would do on Friday I was not sure I would be joining her and my husband.



That is until I heard them talking about going to see Jane Austens house in Chawton (about 40 minutes away from us). You can visit their website here. We really did have the most amazing few hours.



It was lovely to be looking around without the children there - that sounds terrible doesn't it? I would love to go around again now (and I will do), taking my youngest, having read all the information on this first visit I know that I would be able to help her investigate her own interests.



It is years since I have read any of Jane Austens work, but now, having seen where much of it was written and knowing so much more about her life it has definitely inspired me to go back to her writings. There were so many personal letters and gifts on display that talk or show things that were put into books.

There were lots of costumes of the era on display, it was great to be able to go right close to them (some were not behind glass, being reproductions made in exactly the way they would have been). Getting so close I could see just how parts were stitched by hand - WOW - they were so intricate, so delicate.


Being in the actual rooms, standing next to the actual table that she wrote on, touched me very deeply. After looking around the house we went for a short walk to the village church where her sister and mother are buried. Walking those steps knowing this was the same journey she herself would have made to the church was just awesome. I had never realised before what sort of a life my name sake had had, especially her dying so young (41 almost my age). We do all have a short time on earth, I am very thankful that Jane Austen left such a wonderful gift in her writing for us to cherish generations down the line.



We also visited Cassandras Cup, for lunch which was absolutely exquisite, decorated with beautiful china tea cups and with a menu that made me feel quite giddy. We enjoyed this so much that noticing that they do Christmas lunches in December my husband and I have booked ourselves in - there were very few places available, so it obviously does have a tremendous reputation. What's more we did notice they have a B&B there, maybe we will have to try and have a hide-away there some time.


So anyone now coming to visit us is going to be encouraged to go along, it may not have inspired my writing too much but boy it has so enticed my creativity I am almost fit to burst.


If you do visit the site, why not look at their blog - it looks quite interesting, I didn't find out too much about their resident writer, Rebecca Smith, though her recently published novel looks very intriguing. You can find out more about her from here.
Finally I was so touched by this prayer which is on display in Janes beautiful handwriting that I thought I would copy it out for you to see:


A PRAYER BY JANE AUSTEN


Give us grace almighty father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our hearts, as with our lips. Thou art everywhere present, from thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our thoughts on thee, with reverence and devotion that we pray not in vain.

May we now, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing thoughts, words and actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of evil.
Have we thought irreverently of thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our hearts these questions oh! God, to save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity.
Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear us almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray.
Amen.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Maybe Life Is a Dress Rehearsal.

Death is on my mind a lot. Yesterday marked the start of a 3 week trial we endured last year when my sister (Sally) had emergency surgery for a ruptured colon. She didn't survive and I miss her like crazy. Another consequence of her death is that as she was a single parent to an 11 year old, we now have a 12 year old that has joined our family. On the 8th November last year, 24 hours after her surgery I visited Sally after making the 140 mile journey to the Midlands where she lived near my parents. She was drifting in and out of consciousness on a ventilator in intensive care. They had not been able to intubate her down her throat, so she was waving her arms around trying to get the tube that was breathing for her out of her nose. It must have been so uncomfortable. I was continually trying to bring her arms down and hold her hands, at one point she stopped trying to move her arms, I asked her if she was "giving up" (meaning giving up trying to get the tube out). She couldn't talk but responded to that question with a nod - I think I knew at that moment that she meant far more.




Last week I was chatting with a very dear friend, I have often referred to her to friends as my 'Christian Mum' as she has been a wonderfully wise mentor to me since I became a Christian back in 1992. Our conversation found it's way to thinking about the saying 'Life is not a dress rehearsal'. Why do people say that? When you experience the death of a 36 year old, it is really difficult to accept that being alive in this world is all there is. When you look at the Bible we are told repeatedly about the reason Jesus came into the world was to give us ETERNAL life with God. So this bit of life we are living here on earth MUST be a very small part if we still have eternal life to live??????




So maybe this life on earth is our dress rehearsal, our place to learn what true love and commitment are about. To learn what sacrifice is in order to start to understand the depth of love God has for us. A place to disciple those around us as the Great Commission tells us to do so that they have the opportunity to have eternal life with God as well.




Heavy stuff that has kept me awake most of the night last night, but then I have to make some sense of the experiences that I am going through.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Mind Blowing Teaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT8PbEbegD8

If you have time (it's about 8 minutes), I would highly recommend listening to the above video regarding cross centred worship.

There were two points that really struck me about this:

1. We cannot speak to God without Jesus. Now I know I have known this for quite some time however suddenly being reminded about this, this morning has blown me away. How easy it has been for me to just chatter on to God about this and that. Can I actually imagine that without Jesus dying on the cross for my sins I could never have done this.

2. I really need to stop listening and start talking to myself! I think I have done an awful lot of listening this last year or so, to myself and to others, most of it out of necessity. However what is said at the end of this video about not listening to yourself but talking the gospel to yourself instead is just so true. When we listen to just ourselves we listen to our sin full self as well as our spiritual self. When I listen to others I try and talk the Gospel back to them, even though this is not always what they want to hear, however, do I ever do that back to myself? The answer for me is most definitely, not often enough.

So today I am hoping to feel a bit more invigorated by remembering every time I think/speak about/to God it is only because of Jesus. And I shall try and talk (and maybe even sing) the Word of God into my very being.

Friday, 30 October 2009

My Sons First 10 years.

Words cannot express the joy and love I feel for my son, I am hoping that you might catch a glimpse of what I feel when you see the montage I have made for him.


View this montage created at One True Media
Simon Peter Duxbury 10/29/09

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

How Do you Respond? (I've got a new car he he!)

I have found it very interesting to see how people have been responding this week to my new car. Those folks who know me well also know that I have needed to replace my old corsa for at least 18 months now.

I had my corsa from new (my first ever new car) after I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I could no longer drive my old fiesta which was manual and did not have power steering. So my corsa was purchased, it was automatic and a kind acquaintance from church who had a firm that did alterations for Motability put a steering ball on it so I could drive with minimal use of my wrists. Having that car meant I could fully do my job as an Occupational Therapist again, as I used to have to do lots of home visits which meant I needed to drive. This was all more than 12 years ago.

That little car has been brilliant very rarely has it let me down. However with my deterioration in health this year it got to the point where I could no longer easily get in and out of it. The corsa's health has also been suffering and when I got it through its annual MOT this year it came home with a very long list of recommendations!

So I finally got round to phoning our local garage to ask about a car that I first tried out about 2 years ago. I like Vauxhall cars, I like using the same garage - there is a certain amount of trust that builds up when you use the same folks. I called them and said the time has come, I knew the model that would suit my mobility needs, I knew I needed an automatic, I knew that getting a second hand model was going to be very difficult as not many folks drive small automatic cars.

My knowledge was correct - there was only one used car that this garage had access to on the national database (that's the whole of the UK), that fitted my requirements. Therefore it took very little persuading that this was the one for me. If I had wanted to get a brand new one I would have had to wait at least 4 months for it - that was unrealistic. So my choice was made.

Now back to my title question, How do you Respond? to what you might say, in this instance it is to all the folks who have said to me ' wow it's a bit bright isn't it' or ' nice colour' (not giving away whether they are being sarcastic or not). I will not deny that it is a very different colour, it is very bright, I did have to go down to the garage to see a picture of it to be sure I could handle the colour! However when folks who do not know the whole story as to why I have brought this car make a comment about the colour - it has made me bristle. Get real, there is a story behind this decision as there is with most decisions we all make every day. This experience has certainly made me realise that I need to watch how I respond to the decisions that other people make that have consequences for all to see, especially when I have no idea of the stories that have brought about those decisions.

So now I have had my little rant, I shall try and reply politely to all the comments about the colour of my car - having been driving it for nearly a week now, I love it colour and all (It's also very easy to find in a car park).

video

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Blogging on Bogs!

Finally our downstairs cloakroom has been decorated! We have now been in our house for 7 and a half years and this is the final room to be decorated. There is a reason we were leaving it. We had grand plans drawn up when we moved here and planning permission gained to put and extension on the house which would have meant this room would have been moved. When we had the kitchen done some 5 years ago we had plumbing put into the Garage which is behind the wall you can see in the photos. This meant they had to take the sink off, I took that opportunity to go and buy a new sink knowing we would eventually want a while suite. It now feels as though we have given up on our planned extension - having had to buy another new car there is not likely to be any money available for a very long time.
We have therefore got it decorated.
We have done it all ourselves, I even managed to lay the tiled floor without being able to get on my knees - quite proud of that! The towel rail on the bottom of the cabinet means that the kids no longer try and shove it behind the radiator every time they have finished with it. The mirror is from here , the cabinet is from Ikea. The poster on the wall of the UK is hopefully going to get some information absorbed into my children's head while they go about their business! The blind means the neighbours no longer have to watch our shadowy figures now the evenings are so dark.
It may be just a downstairs loo - but I am really loving having it looking nice.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Psalm 139

The Final Creation. The Pressing.


The Stitching.


The Cutting.




The Planning




Psalm 139 (New International Version)


You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.



Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Some one is Missing.


It was my mums birthday on Sunday. Her first birthday since her youngest daughter died. To do something very different for her we went to the beach. We couldn't have done this with Sally, her wheelchair would never have coped with the sand. It was a quiet and pensive day because we all knew that someone was missing.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Resting

This week is hopefully the last of my official sick leave. I have been off for almost 4 months, that's the longest I have ever had to take off in all my working life. It has been a roller coaster of emotional experiences. From out right relief at having the excuse to focus on my health and my family and that is it. To fear of the future, our finances and feeling trapped with no escape.



It has been very timely to find that Ann Voskamp on her blog Holy Experience has been talking about Resting. This has been another part of my emotional roller coaster in the last few months. The bottom line is I find it incredibly hard to do. I constantly give myself other things to concentrate on, even if that is just silly facebook games (though these have occasionally been a life saver). So this week with gentle reminders from Ann I am taking time to properly rest. I am spending time with God, not constantly wondering what he wants me to do - he gave me a plan last week for returning to work.



This afternoon I took a gentle walk with my husband, we didn't chat about anything in particular but just enjoyed a bit of time holding each others hands and looking at shades of Autumn all around us. This is the sort of resting I am having with God, not constantly chattering or straining to hear, just being with Him, taking time to notice the things He has made and marvel at the seasonal changes He gifted to us.



Returning to work is going to take another period of adjustment - I have no idea how well I am going to do back at work but I do know that it will undoubtedly take a lot of my energy. I am also coming up to the anniversary of my sisters death on November 27th 2008. Work, I am hoping might be a good distraction through this time. Memories and reminders are still so incredibly painful.



For my dear friends who have helped and supported me through this time off I am very grateful. There are many folks who I have not had much (if any) contact with. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I know that those who still consider me a friend will respect the quietness of my friendship at the moment.





holy experience

Friday, 9 October 2009

Beading.



If you look very closely you might just be able to pick out a needle and thread and some beads. As I have been sat on the sofa rather a lot in the last few months a very kind friend came round to try and inspire my craftiness. She has introduced me to the world of threaded beading. I was amazed at how simple such an intricate looking craft could be. I was hooked immediately. while we were on holiday during the summer I made bracelets for all my 3 children (even my son wanted one - though he did request it to be all black!) and for my mum. My mum hasn't taken hers off since. It's a simple procedure of counting beads on and then back threading very soothing and therapeutic for me in both body and soul. A bracelet takes me about an hour.



Some weeks ago on deciding that I would make them as presents for children who had birthdays coming up I felt prompted to spend the time that I was making them in prayer. Prayer for the one person whose bracelet I was making. This is not a totally new phenomena for me as I have always enjoyed making cards and praying as you can see here. It was when I started to pray while making the next bracelet that I felt God asking me to pray for 'Blessings' for the person I was making it for. So as every bead went on a blessing was requested, some were specific some were not. This was just the most lovely way to spend an hour. This is the end result:





So I am calling these bracelets, 'Blessings bracelets', I did a rough count up when I had finished to find that in this children's bracelet there were over 365 beads in them - so there is a Blessing for each of the new days in their new year ahead.



Another fact that I really like about these is that I can do them in the colours that I know the children love, I know that means that a lot of girls are going to want pinks, but as with the one above as they get a little older their tastes do become a little more sophisticated.



Below are a small collection of adult bracelets that I made during the summer that have yet to find homes. I had an interesting conversation with my husband a little while ago when we were pondering answerable questions that we would like to ask God. One of these was 'Can you ask God for something in arrears - as in when the time you want it has already passed'. We decided that if He is Omnipotent then you must be able to as he lives outside of time! So with that in mind I have prayed over these bracelets and would love to give them away.



The first 4 people to email me their addresses can receive their 'Blessings bracelets' absolutely free, a gift from me to you.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Why I blog.

Cartoon courtesy of http://blaugh.com/cartoons/070423_blogging_monkey.gif


Last week saw a first for me. Something that I wrote seemed to really hit a chord with my friend and regular reader Gaynor, she went on to write in her own blog which you can see here . The post that influenced her can be viewed with this link . It is very easy to sit here on my sofa tapping away the thoughts that come into my head. However when you read that something you have written has had an influence on someone it really does make you stop and think.


I have always viewed this blog as a way of writing a diary, helping me to be accountable to myself. Being the undisciplined being that I can be I have never managed to succeed in doing this privately no matter how good my intentions have been. I don't advertise my blog widely, just occasionally putting a link on twitter, and telling a few friends who I think might be interested, because I have never really considered that I write anything worth reading about. However just knowing that there are a few people that keep an eye on this blog helps me to keep at it, even if that means occasionally posting very short bits about what I have been up to rather than how I am feeling.


One of the unexpected advantages I have found from blogging, is that I find it extremely cathartic. I do manage to 'let go' of stuff that has been bothering me. In a time when I often feel as though I am not achieving anything, a new post is suddenly an achievement. It has also helped me to watch my tongue. This has had a knock on effect in the 'real' world in which I live, helping me to be more discerning about what I say and to whom. Let me assure you this most definitely has not been easy. It has left me often feeling stifled and frustrated when there are things that I want to shout about - however knowing it would be inappropriate to write about it on here has also helped me to know it would be inappropriate to talk about it with others.


So today I am thinking Thank God for blogging. It has certainly brought me a lot of peace and satisfaction. You may also have noticed I have also finally learnt how to add a link!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Facebook Scrabble


Today is one of those days when I thank God for Facebook Scrabble! Scrabble you say, are they not more worthy things to thank God for than Scrabble? When every move you make burns and pains you, the light tap on an easy keyboard is my contact with the outside world.


I don't know whether I am coming down with something or whether I am just starting a nasty flare up of my rheumatoid arthritis but I have really struggled to move today. It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as I know if I don't move I will stiffen and struggle more, but if I move too much I become soooo tired. Today I only managed a walk to school and then had to go and lie down and slept for a couple of hours. For those that know me, I do not sleep during the day (I struggle enough doing it at night!).


So I have to just wait and see what the next few days brings. In the meantime, I shall happily play scrabble and try not to think of all the other things that I really would like/need to be doing!


Monday, 21 September 2009

Ethical and Environmental Living.

I talking to a friend yesterday about Christmas cards, yes, I know far to early to be even considering this! What we were actually discussing is how we felt about receiving non-charity Christmas cards. My friend was expressing her surprise at how many non-charity Christmas cards she received last year, and how hard she was finding it anticipating the same thing happening again this year, but just not knowing how/if there was anything she could do about it.

About two years ago I stopped buying clothing or goods where I could acquire such items either locally, organically or where the goods were fair trade. This has had several significant impacts:

1. I no longer get the desire to go out on big spending sprees - on line shopping never has quite the same 'comfort' as physically going to the shops.
2. Because my choices are limited (especially with regards to clothing) I only try and find things when stuff either wears out or a new need is identified.
3. Though I have to pay more (generally) for items of clothing, I am quite sure I am actually saving money because of points 1 and 2!
4. My children and husband are totally behind the whole project, and are getting very adept at finding 'fair trade' labels!
5. Despite many disparaging comments from folks saying that the whole 'fair trade and organic' thing is a 'fad' - I am absolutely delighted to see Cadburys carry out their pledge to make their dairy milk chocolate fair trade this autumn. (We did write to them asking them to do it!).
6. I never have to put on my clothing and think 'was a child forced to pick the cotton for this instead of getting an education'.

Going back to the Christmas cards, I have made my own cards for the last 10 years, it is something I really enjoy doing, I have tried to encourage my children to only use charity cards when they want to send them. I do believe that we should not be too 'scared' of upsetting people by letting them know how we stand on ethical and environmental issues. However my experience has now shown that as with many things (especially my faith) the best way of attracting other folks to causes that you support is to set an example that is true and honest.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Se A Vida E (That's The Way Life Is)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QtON0ajJS0

The link above takes you to a video of a song titled as my title is. My husband put this on in the car this morning and it got us into a great conversation.

When someone says to you 'that's the way life is,' do you automatically conjure up a negative picture? I realised listening to this, that, that is what I normally do, however, this song totally turns it round for me. Maybe it is the fabulous Latino beat accompanying that makes it impossible to see it as anything negative. Certainly when you watch this video you can't take it as being anything negative.

It suddenly sounds like an extremely positive fact....'that's the way life is!'. Just as 'that's the way life was!' is how I have to view events from the past. At the moment that gives me a real sense of liberation. So much has happened to us in the last year that it can sometimes be very easy to focus on it still being hard. Reality is however that we have some real blessings going on as well. This morning my husband and I got to spend some really lovely quality time together. No pressing jobs to get done, but time to do a few bits of shopping along with going to the bank and stopping for a lovely fair trade coffee at Starbucks in our favourite bookshop (and managing not to buy anything!). Then shortly after arriving home a letter came telling us we were going to be given a large (for us) sum of money by the RAF benevolent fund in back payment for money we have paid out decorating our nieces room and clothing her! My morning had been good, no matter what else happens today no one can take away the fact that this morning was good. Praise God!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Coping with Change.


image courtesy of http://www.mnispi.org/cartoon


I have always considered myself reasonably good at coping with change. I might even dare to say that I have sometimes relished changes. I have always been rather smug about my ability to cope, especially in comparison to my husband when changes are afoot. However the last 10 months really have challenged this opinion of myself.

I have come to realise that I have a real limit to the amount of change I can cope with even when I think that I am letting God in to support me. Interestingly is seems that it is changes in my physical abilities that are always the point at which I finally cannot resist letting God in and surrendering everything to Him. Physically I am in a state of limbo at the moment. I have still not fully recovered from the knee surgery I had over 10 weeks ago. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that the surgery has not worked and even when 'recovery' is complete I will still be in the same state as I was before surgery. As far as the medics are concerned there is going to be no more discussion until November when the option of knee replacements could become more real. In the mean time I have to do some research of my own so that I am not bamboozled with information when I finally go and can ask questions more fully informed. I really am not looking forward to doing any of that and am putting it off daily.




So that is the physical change that has brought me back to fully surrender my all to God. It is not easy, I keep trying to take it back. I keep trying to bury my head in the sand. Without God I am nothing, even with God I have moments of feeling that I am nothing. What I am sure about is that He is Everything, and what humbles me most is to know that during these times of great change he is constantly showing me how much he cares for me. Thanks Be To God.




Friday, 14 August 2009

My Ethical/Environmental Living Journey - Vegetarianism.


I recently gave my whole blog a bit of a going over adding labels to all the posts that I had written. I know I should have done it from the beginning, but for some reason I just couldn't be bothered. (With hindsight, I so wish I had, it took an age to do it all!). I was quite pleased to note so many labels to the posts I had written, a pretty mixed bunch of stuff, which I do think reasonably reflects my life - with one exception.


I was appalled to realise that I haven't (unless I missed it) ever blogged about my ethical and environmental journey. I like to console myself with the fact that in most things I am still 'Trying to find me', however on this one subject I think I totally know where I am! I will try and recap now on where this journey started and how it has progressed.


I think the starting point was probably when I met the man who was to become my gorgeous husband. He had been vegetarian since his teens and let onto me in the very early stages of our relationship that he didn't like kissing me after I had eaten meat! I was a little shocked, but not being the sort of person to resist a challenge I very quickly stated that I had better turn vegetarian then - and did. It was an overnight thing, a bit like my spiritual conversion I suppose. I realise now that my reasons for doing so what not really very ethical or environmental, however over the last 15 years I have developed a very keen sense of why I remain vegetarian. It is not really anything to do with not 'eating' animals (or fish) but much more to do with how I feel society treats animals (and fish). I remember growing up when we would go out for a meal and you could have 'steak' as a real treat, these days, it seems you have a right to eat as much of this as you want. It's this demand that is unpalatable for me, as with all demand and supply chains, this means that industry takes over trying to supply as much as cheaply as possible, blow the costs to the animals or the environment. The other side of my argument for being and remaining a vegetarian is that it is how I believe God made us to be. In the Bible we are told that Adam and Eve were given all leaves and grains to consume, it was not until after the flood in the time of Moses that they were told they could consume meat. So it gives me a great reassurance of the future of returning to a 'new earth' when the 'rapture' finally takes place. Considering I eat at least three meals a day, this is not a bad thing to be reminded of on a regular basis.


There is of course another reason - the stubborn part of me is determined to show all those folks who reckon it isn't healthy not to eat meat and fish that it is completely and absolutely possible. And I do delight in every new research article that appears telling us that it is actually possible to be healthier eating a balanced vegetarian diet than a carnivorous one. I am very proud of raising my two youngest (now 8 and 9) in this manner. They know the reasons why I have done this and they are free to choose what they would like to eat when out or when I am not cooking. The one thing that they will often submit to is jelly sweeties (the Haribo variety particularly). I do not purchase this sort of gelatin containing stuff for them but if others give it to them I do make sure they are aware of what it contains but they are free to consume if they wish (mostly they choose to do this!). It does frustrate me that there are not more vegetarian sweeties available, I know it is possible to get non gelatin containing stuff but shops just don't stock them!
I do not mind people asking me why I am a vegetarian, I do not so enjoy it when people try and tell me there are better causes to stand for. Hopefully you will see in the next few posts that be a vegetarian is not my only claim attempting a more ethical and environmental lifestyle.
I have found that as time goes on I am becoming more aware of what I am buying. For a while now I have avoided all leather products (I'm not vegan, but think leather products are in the same supply/demand crisis). Unfortunately I have not been able to do much in the way of shoes, though I do have a few pairs of vegetarian friendly ones (this is due to my foot shape and bone problems). I am very much looking forward to a visit to Brighton next month with my hubby so that we can go and visit the Vegetarian Shoe Shop http://www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk/, we have had some lovely purchases for him from there in the past.
I am sure I could still improve some more on this journey, but it is a journey that I wouldn't swap for anything.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Home Produce



I have had a mixed result in my veg patch this year. We have had some good crops:

rhubarb
french beans
spring onions
carrots
spinach

and some disappointing crops:

tomato (got blight again!!!!)
pumpkins
cucumber
sweetcorn
melon
lettuce.

We did get some surprising crops, like potatoes which I hadn't even planted, a root in the compost maybe?? Had enough for a meal for the 5 of us and were a good size, but plants got blight after the tomatoes so had to dig up early to burn the plants along with the tomato plants. My mum has helped no end, her early mornings (4.30 am onwards) mean she has usually done a good few hours before anyone else has been up. She managed to salvage lots of green tomatoes which as you can see by the picture have nicely ripened by the window.

So over the last couple of days I have worked in the garden a little and with my sons help have managed to sow some more carrots, transplant some seedlings that mum sowed in trays a few weeks ago, lettuce, sweetcorn and pumpkins and have carefully erected some nets over them, hoping we might get a little more produce before the end of the year.


the spring onions and spinach in the colander are what went into my risotto last night for my husband and I and it really was quite delicious even if I do say so myself.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Acts of Kindness.



I have got a bit of a blog block again at the moment - looking through some photos the other day has made me realise how little I have been writing about what we have been up to. This picture made me think of some lovely acts of kindness that some people have shown us in the last week or so. The picture shows a pile of 'new arrival' cards that I made. These have mostly been sent to folks who we don't see or correspond with regularly. What prompted me to do it was the thought that these folks would have been very upset for it to have got to Christmas and discover my niece appearing in all our cards without us telling them (I also have to confess I couldn't bear the thought of cards arriving without her mentioned in them).

As soon as these were sent out we then went away for a few days, leaving my parents in our home to enjoy some Southern weather (which turned out not to be much better than their midlands weather). They received several phone calls from friends and relatives who were responding to receiving the cards - this made my mum feel good and also meant we got to see my daughters God-mother who we hadn't had chance to tell we were going to be in her neck of the woods.

We also came back to discover several cards written by Aunts and cousins, one of these was from my husbands cousin who I have only met 2 or 3 times, she wrote the most amazing message to my niece welcoming her into an extended family. We have even received a phone call from Australia!

This has been a real unexpected joy and has reminded my husband and myself how fortunate we are to have such supportive friends and family, even if we are not always aware they are supporting us.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Grief

I was shown a poem a couple of months after my sister died that I really did not like, my memory of it might be skewed but I often think about it. It was describing grief as being like a faithful dog following you around.

I have to say that this is so far from my experience I cannot relate to it at all. My grief hangs around like a nasty smell. It's stench is sometimes strong, sometimes weak. It appears at times when I do not always expect it. I don't like it - I would do anything to get rid of it. It does not remind me of nice things about my sister. It reminds me of dead things, her cold yellowing body in the hospital. It reminds me that I will never get to say goodbye, I will never get to hold her and hug her. I will never get to chat on the phone to her. I will watch her daughter grow up and do stuff that she will never be able to show to her mum.

My grief reminds me that others have lost my sister as well, it makes my heart ache for my mum and dad and her daughter. I remember writing a post in the early days of this blog about how I couldn't believe that God wanted us to feel grief. I still cannot believe that when he created us, he 'gave' us the ability to have grief. I can believe that he gave us the emotions to feel that suddenly combine and create 'grief'. But we were made to live in harmony with all creation, if the fall had not happened would the creatures that God made have died? Big questions to have in your mind on a Wednesday morning.

I had better try and pull myself back together now and get on with the morning chores - my two little ones are finishing school for the summer at lunch time - much to their releif - the big one got to finish yesterday 'It's not fair'.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A Day with my Youngest.

Yesterday was an unusual one, as I am still not too mobile my husband went off with the eldest two and family friends to a great big annual airshow. Our youngest had a party to go to in the afternoon and as she has been feeling rather wobbly the last few months since our eldest arrived, I thought I would try and pull out all the stops and give her a whole day of my attention.

I had a chat with her the night before and said we would make a plan in the morning (the ones going out were going to be leaving at 5.30 AM!). I requested that she wouldn't come and get me out of bed before 7.30 but said she could come down and watch some tv if she wanted to from 7am (this is our normal routine).

She came into me at 7.30 (I was reading having woke up early!), and said she had been in bed reading to (this is very new for her). We then spent the next couple of hours eating our breakfast in front of the television (watching her programmes, not my preference of the news). We also decided on our plan of action for the day.
The plan was:
  1. Get showered/bathed and dressed and spend some time pampering each other.


  2. Make cards ( she needed to do one for the party she was going to later).


  3. Have lunch in front of the TV (a very rare treat indeed!).


  4. Do some baking together.


  5. Get herself ready for the party.


  6. Go to the party.

This felt reasonably realistic and I even managed to get her to tidy her room while we were 'pampering' each other (naughty mummy doing something she wanted to do!).

I kept in my mind all day the fact that I would get a couple of hours while she was at the party to myself, which really helped me to focus on her.

I sometimes beat myself up for not having more desire to spend more time with my youngest daughter. I really do find her quite hard work and she does require a lot of attention which seems to have the effect of making me not want to give it to her - hmmmm.

Yesterday however, it just all seemed to work, every time I felt myself getting a bit distracted I was able (with Gods help I know) to get back on track.

Here are a few photos of what we got up to.


this is the craft, I taught her a bit of decoupage using an image off the Internet.
the lovely yummy cakes she made and decorated.

the beans on toast and glass of milk after the party.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Living Life As If Each Day Might Be Your Last.

If you lived life as if each day might be your last what would you do? This has been on my mind and awful lot in the last 7 months since my sister died. It has been a real 'spiritual' spur to get me thinking about why my life exists.



I find it very easy to get drawn into the gloom that seems to exist in our world today, the 'what difference can I make?' question is so much easier to dismiss than to really grapple with. However I do believe that we can make huge differences with the smallest of acts. The problem is they might not make huge differences to ourselves. Even more precarious is the acceptance that they might even 'cost' us something.



As a Christian I believe that Jesus' life on earth is the gift of example to how, us mere mortals are able to live. I do not believe this is the only reason why Jesus came to earth but this aspect is one I want to explore some more.

So what are things that Jesus taught us? Fairness, faithfulness, passion, generosity, worshipful, I really could go on and on, however I think the following verse is probably the most difficult for us to replicate.


Mathew 22 36 - 40

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."



So firstly we need to love God with the whole of ourselves, to me this means putting Him at the forefront of everything that I do. Loving him more than I love my husband and my children! Is this really acheivable? I am sure it is but I know that I do not easily achieve it, even for just a part of my day. Secondly loving others as you love yourself. The point of this that takes my breath away is the fact that we should be loving and taking care of ourselves. However we can not stop there, taking care of ourselves to the detriment of those around you is just not an option.



For me this is the lynch pin of how I can live each day not neccessarily as if it was my last but certainly as I feel God would want me to be living it.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Changing Rooms.

We have had a tough weekend. Fortunately there have been a few light moments but I certainly feel as though I could have done with a few more.



There has been a lot of physical changes in our home since my 12 yr old niece came to live with us. Our spare room no longer exists, so we have had to have new units downstairs to house bits and pieces that belonged to myself and my husband which were in there (not quite completed this stage as there are still two boxes of books on our bedroom floor). This room has now been decorated and new furnishings put into (except for bed).



My sons old room is now my nieces room. It has been cleared except for my sons old bed, the clothes rail in the built in wardrobe has been placed higher. The first coat of colour has gone on - it's very red! Her white high bed has been purchased with a desk and storage under it, hopefully it should arrive in the next two weeks. Once that is in we can properly assess how much more storage is required, we do have a nice set of black shelves from the old 'spare' room which we can get some rather funky glass doors to go on, but don't know whether that much will be required yet - a lot of her stuff is still at my parents place.



The demise of the 'spare' room also means that I have had to halve my wardrobe so that I can share it with my husband - he used the 'spare' one before that.



Today we are trying out a new 'system' for the laundry. It seems my darling little niece has quite an issue about putting stuff away properly (I know she's almost a teenager and that is what they do!) - especially dirty clothes. As small and petty as it might seem it has really got me in a stew. I am a stickler for only washing once or at the most twice a week. I have found that this means stuff doesn't get put in the wash unless it really needs to go in it. It also means that when putting lovely fresh clean clothes on the washing line I can see exactly what has been worn (or not!). This is how I have discovered the disappearing act that most of my nieces clothes seem to do. So the system that I have used for the last 13 + years of my married and family life is going (at least for a trial period). The washing baskets we used, one for whites, one for light colours, one for dark colours, were always kept in my wardrobe. Maybe the trip to our room was just too far?????? So my husband has come up with the idea of using a chest that used to live in the 'spare' room but which up until today has had no home. This is going to be kept on the landing (between all the rooms).



I have no idea if any of these changes is going to work well, they have taken an awful lot of energy and thought. It has reconfirmed to me the importance of not getting too attached to 'stuff' or 'systems', but as with all change it really is not easy.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

All things are possible?

One of my favourite Bible verses is this:


Matthew 19:26 (New International Version)

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."



A good friend gave me this last weekend, the funniest part of it is that the following day my daughter did catch me with my dress tucked in my knickers walking (on crutches) down the path.

On a more serious note it has got me to thinking about all the things going on in my life that at the moment feel a bit 'impossible'. Could my faith be strong and sure enough to really believe that they are? So I thought I would list them:

  1. I want to believe that we can provide a safe and stable home for my niece and that it won't be to the detriment of my other children's safety and happiness.
  2. I want to believe that my body will enable me to do all the stuff I want to do.
  3. I want to believe that my parents would come to know Jesus.
  4. I want to believe that a broken relationship can be repaired.
  5. I want to believe that my home church and work place will be lead my a new visionary leader and we won't be left in an interregnum for too long.

I am sure there are more, but these will be good to focus on for now. The promise is there that all things are possible - the challenge for me to believe it is now on.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Our New Addition.

Meet our newest addition to our family, she is 12 years old, shares the same birthday as my 8 year old daughter and is my niece. For those of you who have been reading my blog for some time you will know that just before I started blogging back in January my younger sister died. She was a single parent to this gorgeous now 12 year old. For the last 6 months she has been living with my mum and dad who lived very close to where she had lived with her mum. This enabled her to carry on at her school. However, this has not worked, my sister had written a will back in 2002 shortly after her husband left her asking that my mum and dad would be her guardian unless unable to and then it was to be us. This did mean that although disappointing for my mum and dad we know that my sister would have been happy with the decision we have now all made.

We are under no illusions, we know that we are not taking on an easy job. We have had her with us for 6 weeks now, she has settled into her new school here relatively easily and is starting to make new friends. She gets on fabulously with my 9 year old son, not so well with our 8 year old daughter - but I expected that - sharing mummy when you are 8 is very, very difficult.

We are now trying to make sure we can get all the support that is available to us. Social services have finally taken us seriously and come on board, which I hope is going to be a good thing. We are also fortunate to have a Child Bereavement charity close by who run groups to support both our 12 year old and our two younger ones.

I have now made the decision to take the six weeks off work that I have been signed off to have and concentrate my energies on providing as much as I am able, to our three lovely children, my husband and myself.

So now we are in the process of letting as many people as possible know the news, including my sisters friends, by sending out 'New Addition' cards. We have a big job ahead of us but we are as ready as we will ever be for it, my husband came up with a very good way of describing how we feel about it all a few weeks ago:

"It's a bit like when you are expecting your first child, you read all the books, you talk to people about it, but actually until that child is in your arms, in your home, you really don't have a clue how it is all going to work out, and even years down the line you are still learning."

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Listening to God

Have you heard the story about the Christian man whose boat capsizes in the middle of the ocean? He's all alone and starts praying to God to help him survive this catastrophe. A man in another boat comes by and offers to help him out and is surprised by the response he gets - "no thanks it's okay God is going to help me". A helicopter flies over with a winch man offering to help, again he is surprised by the response he gets - "no thanks it's okay God is going to help me". Eventually he drowns and when he gets to Heaven he asks God why he didn't help him - God responded - "I sent you a boat and you refused its help, I sent you a helicopter and you refused help - so here you are".

So why is this story on my mind today - I had a terrible nights sleep because I feel a bit like the man in the sea.

At work I have been trying to organize a holiday club for the end of July. This holiday club has been an uphill struggle since I started working for the church some 18 months ago. I am now looking at two lifelines that have been sent this week and wondering if they are from God and if so - I should be hanging on to them:

  1. After having my knees operated on last Monday, I have been signed off work for 6 weeks and told not to drive for at least 4 weeks. This takes me past the date of the holiday club.
  2. Yesterday our Child Protection Officer informed me that I couldn't use 9 of my volunteers as they have not got up to date CRB forms completed for our church.

I hate giving in and not being able to complete projects and so feel in complete turmoil. I have been feeling very low about work for some time. We have got so much going off at home that the thought of being able to concentrate on home things and getting fit for the next 6 weeks is far more appealing than struggling to do a holiday club which will not be the best I could do and may lead to me ruining my knees again.

So I am waiting and listening and trusting on the discernment of others to help me make the decision as to whether I pull out completely from this holiday club. It's a hard thing to do, very hard.