Wednesday, 22 July 2009


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.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


As the week progresses - so do my knees! I got to change my dressings today, taking off the big padded cotton wool and crepe bandages. The bad news is I now have to wear tubi-grip for the next 10 days!

I am finding it very difficult to sit still and rest, there are so many jobs to do in the house that it would be great to get up and do them. I am already able to walk around the house just using the furniture, I am trying to behave myself and still use one crutch when I am outside. I am so hoping that this means that I am going to be much more mobile when they are properly healed.

My daughter had a friend to play this evening after school, it was very amusing to listen to them play, they were using my daughters mountain walking stick as a crutch. It is so lovely to watch them assimilating my experience in their play. This is a picture of the pair of them as my husband scootered the friend home.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Splish Splosh Splash

It has been very warm here all week - I know for many folks saying in the 20's is a good thing but when it gets too the high 20's in England for more than two days it seems it is officially a heatwave. As our guinea pigs live outdoors I thought they might be feeling a bit warm too, they will be 2 this August and this is the first time they have had a bath!! Maisy the one in front seemed to quite like it and happily kept going up to her belly. Twitchy the one at the back just was not so keen! My daughter had great fun playing with them and gave them the treat of some time on the front lawn afterwards to nibble the grass (which needs cutting!).