Friday, 27 February 2009

Lots of Food

I have had a great lunch with my lovely friend Angi today, she knows me from way back at St Stephens in East Twickenham and has helped me today to put a bit of a time-line on things. I find it very strange when you can't quite put a finger on how you met people and when! I do love hearing stories of how people met up, imagined or real!

My husband Brian, remembers our first meeting - apparently it was on the aisle of the church where a friend introduced us. I have to confess (don't worry - have said it to him already), that I cannot remember this, try and try as I have to conjure up this memory, it is not there, that's sad.
The next opportunity for us to meet was unknown to me a dinner party where Brian was in the know about me, but not I him. Another gorgeous friend Helen had been telling him about me and arranged a dinner party with others, so as not to make it to obvious. Unfortunately her table planning was just not up to scratch. She did sit us next to each other, Brian on my left, however on my right were two very outgoing, very loud (but very lovely) lads. They kept the right side of the table totally entertained the whole evening. I don't think I spoke to Brian next to me all night. Brian doesn't compete when he doesn't think he stands a chance, so sat back and enjoyed the meal.

Along with Angi and a whole bunch of volunteers we put on a week of early evening entertainment (Power Point) for the youngsters in our church. THIS is where I first noticed Brian. We always had a short meeting at the end and beginning of each session to discuss what was going to or had gone. It was at one of these that this young man (well youngish - he was 2 whole years older than me!) said that he had written a rap the night before when praying about something we were going to be covering. My attention was immediate captured. I will state categorically that I am and never have been a rap fan!!!! What had impressed me, was this quiet bloke had written a very witty rap in his own time when preparing to minister to the kids we had coming - which after encouragement from the team he went on to perform. I think we chatted, but I can honestly say, that I was blown away by the living faith that he had and which exuded from him, far more than any other thoughts that might have been brewing for him - they came later - not that much later actually.
Okay, I was going to stop there but maybe I will tell you a little more. Several weeks after Power Point, Helen moved house, she had bought a little place and decided to have a house warming. I went along and she told me that she had a friend coming along later if he could get away from work. So a pleasant evening was spent with lots of friends together, a few folks started to leave and then the grand entrance was made - Brian! You see I discovered from him, after he had got a plate full of leftovers, that he was training to be an air traffic controller which meant he worked shifts, hence his late arrival (it was about 10.30pm). We got chatting and Helen saw the rest of the guests off home, this was the first time my heart started to stir with those other thoughts and feelings - he was lovely!!

I don't know what we talked about for most of the time but on leaving, it was late. We had both got our separate transport to go home, not knowing what to do on leaving each other Brian stuck out his hand and we shook hands to say good-bye (makes me swoon to think back on this now!).

I didn't know what to call this blog - but have just noticed all the references to food.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Uncluttered and Free

Now there was one huge advantage that I took while I was single - I had the time and the energy to concentrate on what I was doing with my studies! I loved my occupational therapy course, I was discovering new stuff everyday, I was being given new opportunities. One of these was to go to Ghent in Belgium for 4 months at the beginning of my second year. There was just a handful of us that went on an exchange. The first 4 weeks were spent learning Flemish (a mixture of french/dutch and german!) and familiarising ourselves with local customs, ie. beer and frites met mayo.

This was my first excursion in life as a Christian without any Christian friends around me - now that was a bit daunting. I took myself off to the local Anglican church which had a bar in the hall - now that was new! It was very traditional but the folks were nice, one older lady in particular took me home for a meal and out one weekend to see her 'country retreat'. She also lent me a portable TV. After the first couple of weeks with lots of socialising with the others and spending far too much money, and drinking far to much, a tv gave me a good excuse to stay home by myself. I also made friends with one of the Belgium Occupational Therapy (OT) students who lived in the same building as me, we got on well and I went home with her one weekend, and got to experience some lovely family life and a Flemish Catholic service. I did get lonely and home sick but never regretted going. My parents came out to see me for a weekend as well, which was the first time ever that we had spent time together just the three of us.

After 'mastering' some language basics we went into the OT college for a couple of weeks, before being sent out on a work placement. I was very fortunate to get a placement literally 5 minutes walk from my flat with children who had speech and communication problems along with learning difficulties. The amazing thing about this was that their language was at about the same level as my Flemish (or even less!) so communicating with them was fine - it was a little more of a challenge with my supervisors (though they spoke brilliant English).

My desire to be with children which I had had from as young as I can remember was totally rekindled. I had already started to get involved with the children's work at my church in West London and when I returned my involvement increased.

I also returned with a new found confidence and independence, I think I was moving in my spiritual walk towards teenagedom! Thankfully my teenage spirtual walk was far easier and painfree than my original teenage years.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

A Single Adult

I was never really single from being about 12 years old. This new start in my life in my early 20's, as a new Christian and a new university student was also the first time I was single.

I think moving away from home really helped me, it was a proper fresh start. I blogged a few weeks ago about coping with too many firsts - having totally forgotten about this period in my life.

Despite having been contacted by a church which I had started to attend, for some reason I hadn't felt able to let myself be made known to have arrived. God still took care of me despite myself. They had a wonderful prayer ministry team and after one particular service, I did feel able to go and ask for prayer as I was feeling quite lonely. I was introduced to a wonderful lady who has become my spiritual mum. I have been blessed with so many amazing people walking alongside me with Jesus.

So I was single for a while, I remember this time as one of great self discovery. I was making new friends, meeting lots of new people, a few of them might just be reading this now :0). I am now quite convinced that this was like reliving my early teenage years. I feel so fortunate to have been given a new chance to start maturing again, this time with Jesus to help me. I am also quite sure that this time was one of being made 'pure' again. There was a lot of stuff that I worked through, giving it over to God. I started to learn how to say thank you to Jesus for always being with me even though I hadn't known he was there in some of the dark times in my life.

I still continued to want to make 'deals' with God (that reminds me of a Kate Bush song!). The funniest one being that I decided I wouldn't kiss another man until I met the one I was going to marry - now how was I ever going to know who that one was!!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Telling God what I wanted!

Another defining memory that I have of those first months as a Christian is deciding that there were definitely things I wanted God to do for me.

It sounds quite impertinent now when I write that, but I knew right from the start that God had created me to be a 'nice' person, and I felt there were two things in particular that needed to change in order for me to become more 'nice'! Those two things were, I wanted to stop being the habitual liar that I seemed to have become, the other was that I wanted the next male companion that I was to have to be the one that would become my husband. I never have been one to have small ambitions!!

Of course at the time, I had no idea of the plans that God had for me, or that there was really anything more to being a Christian and friend of Jesus than just being 'nice'. I find it really reassuring to look back at those early memories of how I viewed my faith and then to see where I am now. I am certain I still have a long way to go, but also comforted to see how much God has changed my life already.

And God is so Grace Full, in those early days instead of reminding me who it was that really knew what I needed, he stuck by those things I wanted to happen and enabled them to happen. I could not believe that after 20 years of lying about anything and nothing, this habit was broken over night - yes - I am sure the odd ones have slipped out unintentionally in the last 20 years but the habit was broken. It took a little longer for me to find the man that God had chosen for me - he first took me out on my 2nd Christian Birthday (using that as the excuse to take me out!). During those 2 years, I was tempted to follow my own desires on at least a couple of occasions, however He kept me close and I did everything I could to stay close to Him - the result in waiting meant that I have the wonderful husband I have today. I'll save the rest for another day.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Back to the Story

I can't believe it is so long since I wandered off my life story. I had intended to just have a few days off and here we are - almost a month away. My husband has requested I get back on with recapping my story, cause he knows that his entrance is imminent!

So I became a Christian on June 22nd 1992 about 6 weeks after that amazing meeting with Jesus at Easter. Why did it take 6 weeks - well I knew straight away that Jesus was going to require every part of me. There was never any question in my mind that I could be a half hearted Christian - doing some stuff but not all. I knew that for me that I was going to have to give every area of my life over to Jesus, including my relationships, my attitudes to money, to family, my body - the list goes on. I am so incredibly grateful to those that drew close to me during this time who gave me the extra strength and human encouragement that I needed to make my life changing decision.

One of the hardest parts of becoming a Christian for me was the fact that I knew that I would have to tell my boyfriend and my family. I knew with my boyfriend at the time that he would support me though I don't think he had any idea of the consequences for our physical relationship. With my family I knew there would be some dismay. For my sister it meant that a quiet faith that she had appeared to be fostering stopped completely. My mums response was to inform me that I was never to bring talk of God into our house.

In truth though it wasn't a hard decision, it was more a time required to get used to the decision that I needed to make. I can honestly say that I have never regretted making the decision to follow Jesus. There are definitely times when I have been aware of the costs that I have to pay but I also know that any cost I pay is nothing compared to the cost Christ made for me.

Three months after becoming a Christian I moved away from home to start training as an Occupational Therapist at Brunel University. The amazing vicar of the charismatic Anglican Church where I had become a Christian (St Alkmunds, Derby, UK), Rev. Paul Corrie, wrote to a church in Twickenham that he had been given the name of as being very similar in style. As a consequence I received a letter from St Stephens, East Twickenham, Middlesex, UK, letting me know they were looking forward to meeting me. I cherish that letter with lots of extremely fond memories of my arriving in West London and starting a new life.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Perfect Timing

Not many things in my life appear to go in any good order etc, but just occasionally God makes me smile with his perfect timing.

Our main computer broke down today - not much to smile at there, our e-mail had started playing up last Sunday and I had to get on to talktalk to sort it out. While I was on the phone sorting that out - I just remembered to ask the lovely chappy who was dealing with me (ever so patiently) how to get my e-mails from the server site.

I had set this up back when we got the computer (years ago fortunately not months!), however I had then promptly forgotten all the passwords, etc. With a few clicks of his mouse he had me sorted and now I can get my home e-mails from my work laptop! How fortunate am I - no main computer - however still got access to our personal e-mails!!! Yey!!! (Does this sound really sad, that something so worldly can make me so happy!).

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Nature of Grief

We are off on a little family holiday in a couple of days. However it is going to be a strange one and I am having a few problems trying to prepare myself for it. This will be the first time we have been away since my sister died in November. It will also be the first time that I have been back to my mums house since I was there for the funeral. It will also be the first time that we have taken our neices away with us. It is also going to be the first time we have been away with a particular friend and her family.

That feels like way to many firsts!!!!

It is also going to be my dead sisters birthday on Saturday 14th February!!!!

I have had a lot of losses in my life, broken relationships, lost dreams, etc. I have also had deaths, my uncle when I was 20, my grandparents and both my husbands parents in the last 8 years. I have had people say to me during these times that I am grieving, and I have absolutely no doubt that they were right.

Why is it then that I do not recognise the emotions that I am now feeling as I grieve for my sister. I realise that being the person I am, I am also feeling for my mum, dad and my 11 year old neice as well as myself, however, this grief is just so alien!

I've been wondering if Grief is a God given emotion - but then as far as I understand we were not made to feel loss - we had eternal life when we were made and in the Garden of Eden. It is only because of the fall that death appeared - and therefore why grief exists?

I can take heart from knowing that God can turn all things for the good (Romans 8:28). But I do still need more faith to cope with thinking about this holiday - Help me God (pinched from Kathy!).

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Single mindedness

After giving myself a pat on the back the other day, I have continued to try and be the mum I want to be - but fell down on Saturday evening. First I will set the scene........

I mentioned about getting shoes for my daughteron Thursday, the ones we got had to go back, they were too uncomfortable after walking around in the house for an evening. So Saturday morning we were in Southampton for 9.30 to go to a larger store. We tried on lots of shoes - none of which she felt comfortable in. We then spent the next 6 hours driving between Southampton and Winchester (around 14 miles) going to all the 'reputable' shoe shops that I knew of and which were recommended. We ended up bringing home a pair of lace ups (she can't tie laces) and I know they are going to have to go back!

Now I knew that I needed to get this job done - children's feet are very important - and I do feel as though I have been neglected her somewhat (made worse by the fact that she had gone up a whole shoe size). I also knew that we were going out on Saturday evening, lovely friends were cooking for us and having us sleep over so that we could both have a drink! That was definitely going to be an evening of 'me' time, so I had no excuse giving my daughter 'her' time for this important task.

Unfortunately I became a little to single minded! My husband phoned me at 5pm to check where I was (still in a shoe shop) he asked if there was anything that he needed to do before we went out. I asked him to get beds and pj's ready and make sure my son had a bath. I got home had a cup of tea, shelved the idea of having a nice bath or shower for myself, made sure my daughter was bathed and we got on our way.

It's a 45 min drive to our friends, I sat back in the car and thought - phew, good job done today. Then it struck me, it was 6.10pm and I had forgotten to give my children any tea (having told our friends I would feed them before we came)!

With great embarrassment I phoned our friends and asked if they had any frozen chips in the freezer. Thank goodness they are great friends, after informing me that they would be phoning social services they had a jolly good laugh at me and duly fed my children as soon as we arrived.

Okay - so I'm sticking with this giving my children attention thing, but I must make sure I keep a reality check on what I am up to - Help me God (I've pinched that from you Kathy x).

p.s. I did have the most wonderful evening and morning with our lovely friends, my husband and our kids!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Hiding behind worries.

I e-mail with a couple of friends accountability prayers every week (though I'm not very good at doing this every week!). One of our questions is about how we have been with our children (we all have similar age families) and I had to confess to feeling very much like I am neglecting mine.

Reflecting on this through today with extra little prompts from other blogs that I read, I am starting to realise how much I can hide behind my worries. There is much going on for me at present. Rather than lay it all before God and leave it with him I often just take it all right back again and stew on it.

The result of this is a totally distracted and self-absorbed mother. I then start to get cross about how little I am doing with the children and my husband and rather than stopping there and trying to change my behaviour, I dwell on it some more and get even crosser. This inevitably leads me to being short tempered with both my husband and children!

How thankful I am for having a very patient husband and very loving children. Today I resolved that after school pick up I would me the mum that I want to be. Plans had to change slightly when my daughter came home in her PE trainers because her shoes were hurting her - but I was not going to be distracted!! We came home, did the usual 'jobs' (I am trying to get my children to be a bit more responsible for their school stuff - emptying their own lunch boxes etc.) The children were told that I needed time to cook tea before we went to the shoe shop. I suggested that while I did this they got their homework done - which they did together - my older son helping his little sister! We got to the shoe shop, discovered my daughter had grown a whole size (felt quite bad and apologised to her for not believing when she told me they were rubbing!). We managed to get home before the rush hour traffic - tea is now on, they are having a nice play. Yey! I feel like I've been the mum I want to be today (and I had been at work all morning!). Praise God - I'm praying that I can turn a new leaf with this one today and not be the mum that I think I ought to be (my standards are way to unrealistic), but try and be the one that I want to be with the resources that I have.

Monday, 2 February 2009


On a very selfish and personal level I very pleased to be snowed in this morning. I love the silence that snow always seems to bring. I can almost feel the heavy blanket that the earth around me has been shrouded in and I am very thankful that I can snuggle down in and share it's silence and comfort.