Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Designing and Creating on a Purchased T-shirt.

1. Take one fairtrade cotton white t-shirt from Marks and Spencers £6.00 for a pack of 3.
2. Purchase one tub of dye £2.99
3. Weigh t-shirt to find out if you can dye two at a time.

4.  Turns out I could so into the cold dye they go.

 5.  Once dying is finished, cut out some squares using old clothing, enough to spell the word you are going to do - I decided on AWESOME
6. Some letters I did with ribbon. and stitching.
7. Other letters, I used bond a web to cut out and stick some red fabric cut out letters which I then embroidered around.  The remaining ones I did using embroidery thread only.
8.  Choosing which way to put the letters took a bit of help from my hubby.

9. The final design chosen was a tick.  After bond-a-webbing the squares onto the t-shirt, I crossed stitched around the whole lot.
 10. I am pleased to report that my 11 year old son loved it when he received it for Christmas.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

When God Moves You on.

The trauma that we have faced as a family the last couple of years since my sister died, has totally eclipsed what had been happening the previous couple of years.  I have been reminded of these events this week and wondered if blogging about it might help me to see if there is any clarity on an issue which was deeply wounding and painful when it happened.

When we were first house hunting in the south of England back in 2002 we had a huge area to choose from.  We marked places in an AtoZ that looked nice where there were reasonable looking schools and churches.  When we first pulled into where we now call home it was the school and the church that we found before we found our house.  In fact we could not afford the houses that were in this area, they were all at least £10,000 more than what we were budgeting and it would have meant accepting something smaller than we had already.  Then we were shown the house that is now our home.  It needed a lot of updating and had been on the market for over a year and the sellers were desperate to sell.  Because of this we were able to strike a very good deal and got the house!  The way all this happened made us feel very secure that God was in control.  There were just far to many co-incidences for it to be anything but the RIGHT way to go.

We settled very quickly, threw ourselves into our local community including the church and made some friends that I pray will be friends for life.  There were things that were not great, we often felt very unsupported by the leadership at the church, though they were always very willing for us to come up with ideas and let us get on with them.  This is where my ministry for children began to grow, I was soon co-ordinating all the children's work, from the creche to Junior Church, holiday clubs, craft groups and special services.  I loved it all, there were times when I was brought up short - where I felt my ministry was far more important than anything else (including my husband and children - silly girl that I was).  However this ministry grew and we really enjoyed doing things like the Holiday Clubs together.

I began to feel that it was turning into something more than a volunteer should be doing.  I spoke with some very wise Christians who supported this growing feeling that I had.  I was very aware that I was going to have to go back to paid employment at some point and yet felt terrible at the thought of having to stop all the ministry that I was involved in and could not identify anybody/people to take on some of the roles.   I spoke with our minister about this and he encouraged me to write a report for the church council.

In good faith this is what I did, putting forward a suggestion that they might want to start thinking about whether it would be appropriate to employ someone in the post I had been doing (not necessarily me!).  This was where everything started to fall apart.  The church wardens wrote to me suggesting that I leave my role and that they would not be bringing forward the suggestion to the church council that a paid position should be considered.  I was completely floored by this.  I had expected to perhaps need to have a conversation with them to clarify what was in the report, so this came as a total shock.  I felt accused of trying to make a job for myself and was dumbfounded by having people refuse to discuss things with me.

In a very short space of time I found myself forced to hand in my resignation, we also lost the worshipping community that we had belonged to and had to leave our and our children's friends behind.  We did try a few times to go back, however bad feeling remained and we did not feel at all welcome by certain folk.  Work wise I very quickly found paid employment with the our local council, working with children under 5 with special needs.  It was a maternity cover post so I knew it would most likely end after 9 months, but it was perfect hours and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


I was once told by a very wise minister that the best 'ministries' you could be involved in were those that you could set up and then leave without them falling apart.  I am happy to see that the two ministries that I set up from scratch for younger children in our previous parish are still going, 4 years after me leaving them.  Others that I had been involved in (though not set up) have shrunk.  I still do not fully understand why all that happened did happen.

I did go to a workshop recently where we discussed where Jesus sometimes trod softly when things needed to change and sometimes strode in boldly.  Is this what we were being asked to do?  Or did we in our own strength go in with size 10 shoes on when ballet shoes were required?  I am quite content now to leave the wrestling over this alone.  Our family life requires this.  Do I mourn for our old church and the old job - yes - especially at times like Christmas and every time we have to get in the car to go to our present one.  I can even still have times of great regret, however I do still feel God is with me and with the work that I do and so I have to be content that I am where he wants me to be.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Retooning the Nativity

This one is even better for those who question the 'traditional' way that the nativity is told these days.

The Christmas Story (HD version)

Another video that I have really enjoyed this week:

THE DIGITAL STORY OF NATIVITY - ( or Christmas 2.0 )

I love facebook - I don't know how people find these things, just friends of friends passing them on I suppose, it is superby when you come across things like this though:

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Dear Sis - letter number one (I have a feeling there might be more).

I can't believe it is more than 2 years since we last had a conversation.  I know we communicated a tiny bit while you were in hospital those last 3 weeks before you died, but I have to admit that it wasn't really much of a conversation!

I have just been reading Dawn French's book 'Dear Fatty' in which she writes letters to all the people who she feels have played a major part in her life.  Lots of them are to her Dad who died when she was 18, which got me thinking maybe that would be a good way to try and get my thoughts down for you - and for your daughter.

'A' lasted for 6 months at Mum and Dads after you left us (sorry that is just how it feels sometimes, but I realise that this makes it sound as though you chose it and I don't know whether you did or not).  I know it was all part of the hurting process that she was going through but she really did make her point in very dramatic style!  I also think her then new school made a lot of mistakes, with no-one having a clue how to help a child like her.  I can see you raising your eyebrows at that - how many times did you face people who didn't have a clue!

Do you feel cheated dying just at a point where you were starting to do things (like walk!) after so many years of being able to do nothing? If there is one thing that I get very angry about for you it is that.  Maybe I just like the way it made me feel after all those years of moaning at you telling you to get a grip on the life you still had.  I wonder how you feel now about those dark times - do you remember them at all?

I wish I knew how much of those three weeks in hospital you are aware of.  I have still not been able to talk to our brother about it, I know he was the last one to have a conversation with you even though you were in a bit of a delirious state, I know you must have been reasonably with it, as I'm told you told him you were not afraid of dying.  I find that a bit hard to stomach really, surely you didn't want to leave A?  Or did you just know that you were not going to be able to give her what she was going to need through those demanding teenage years?  I'm not sure whether I feel proud of you if it's the latter for honesty or cross with you for thinking anyone else was going to be able to do it!  I most certainly don't feel as though I am doing a very good job at the moment.  Whatever, it's happened now and maybe I am just jealous that he was close by enough to be able to help and have that conversation and I wasn't.

Poor mum is struggling, I think the unresolved grief she had for her mother dying when she was so young, has prevented her from mourning you yet.  Dad soldiers on, I still don't fully understand him, I do know though that he is totally devoted to mum and for that I am grateful.  Just after the first anniversary of your demise he managed to go and have a stroke that certainly came out of no where just like your  ruptured bowel!  He was very fortunate to get to the specialist unit near them where he was scanned and on clot busters within an hour of it all happening.  It has aged him though, he looks more like Grandpa now, I don't suppose you would remember him to well as I only just do.  It's quite shocking to see someone go from looking early 60's as he was to in his 80's in a couple of weeks.  That reminds me - were you aware of how many grey hairs you had?  Maybe they only arrived in the time you were in intensive care, I certainly remember how it started to fall out in that last couple of weeks.

Well I am going to have to sign off for now, the children have had their tea but it baths and showers for all three tonight.  Tuesday is the only night of the week when none of them are out at something!

Love you more J x.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Wintery Blessings.

It has been a strange old week, temperatures suddenly plummeting and having escaped the snow the first part of the week, 5 inches of it landed during the night on Wednesday, for us to see on Thursday morning.

I didn't leave the house to go in my car until this morning, having had a warmer day yesterday which got rid of the majority of it.  I do like unexpected things happening though - it reminds me to be grateful for every hour of every day.

319. The delight of seeing my puppy dog playing in the snow.

320. Photos and video of the children sledging when my joints are to sore to dare going out to watch.

321. A fantastic time with new friends having a meal and playing games with the children.
322. Christmas cards made in an afternoon.
323. Good times at work.
324. A cold that has almost gone now.
325. Eldest doing her first concert with the Boys Brigade Brass Band at a Christmas event.
326. Our family doing the prayers at church on Sunday.
327. Ordering new double glazing for the house - a luxury we have longed to do.
328. A cup of tea made by my son.
329. Birthday cards for December and a present made.

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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Vegetarian Christmas Food

For the last couple of years Christmas has been a bit different from how we have usually done things.  This year I am trying to get back on track.  I have been reminded by two friends in the last couple of days of my 'Christmas Pie' recipe.  This has been one of the things I haven't done, fishing out the recipe to scan in for my friends (once you have tasted this pie you never forget it), I was reminded that it tastes even better when it has been made and frozen.  It is a recipe that I have been using since the first year we got married 14 years ago, I used to get the BBC Vegetarian magazine on subscription which is where I first saw it.  One task I intend to try and get on with in the next week, is to make a good batch of this, the bonus will be that it fills the house with that Christmassy smell :o).

Monday, 29 November 2010

Still Counting those blessings.

309.  My youngest taking charge of the dishwasher, even though it only lasted a couple of days.
310.  Flowers from my youngest Godson to cheer me up when a cold arrived most inconveniently.
311.  Blogs that continually inspire me.
312.  Facebook chats which are all I can manage when emotion takes over my voice.
312.  Hot orange squash to sooth my snuffles.
313.  Happy children glad to finish school on a Friday.
314.  The pain of another anniversary passing, helping by reassuring me that my sister will never be forgotten.
315.  Natures frostring on holly bushes.
316.  Piles of paperwork cleared in the house.
317.  Cold and frosty puppy dog walks.
318.  Cuddling up with this one next to me.


Advent Adventures

Come and see how my Advent Adventures activity morning worked

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New work blog.

I recently restarted my work blog which had been neglected for about a year here on blogger.  However I have been having a niggling feeling about it for a while.  I am very careful about how I advertise this blog because I have never intended it to be for the eyes of all those closest to me.  In fact it has been a place that I have been able to retreat to.  I also have never wanted to overtly put any restrictions on who can view this blog, if people happen upon it, then I am happy for that to happen, this is how it helps me to keep myself accountable for my thoughts.  However my work blog I have always wanted to be able to shout about - when I have done something that has worked well then I want to tell others,  I have learnt so much and gained so much from other people doing this I wanted to be able to share to.  Up until now however I have not felt able to because of the link to this more personal blog.  Then suddenly the other night the solution appeared - use a different place to start a new work one!

If you are at all interested in what a children and youth pastor might be getting up to then please feel free to come and visit me at

I do intend to carry on blogging here as well, but will try and keep it non-work related! 


Monday, 22 November 2010

More Monday Blessings.

298. A week of my husband away to make my heart ache for him like I forget it can.
299. The silence of a hug given away to show repentance.
300. The wise thoughts of another mother.
301. The wagging tail of my puppy as she holds her toy and looks at me, waiting.
302. Blessings at work.
303. Walking into a near silent and empty Cathedral at 9am on a Saturday morning.
304. Getting e-mail issues sorted swiftly.
305. Having children willing to try giving up family presents for Christmas this year following anothers example.
306. New red shoes.
307. The return to work of my kinship care support worker - I hadn't realised how much I need her!
308. Our first big party attended as a family of 5 (it was fancy dress!)!



Sunday, 14 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday

When I was 18 years old I was told something by my mother which changed the way I look at war.

My mother was born in Hamburg, Germany is October 1946.  Her mother was German, most of her uncles had been fighting with the Nazi's.  Her father was a British serviceman.  When his term in Germany ended he went back to England leaving his pregnant girlfriend behind.  We have a photograph of this serviceman, it is a family photo, he was obviously well accepted attending the engagements of one of my mums aunts.  He never made contact again.

My poor mum was born and then had a very tragic childhood, suffering the death of her own mother at the age of six, child abuse by step fathers (one of whom was put in prison), and then being adopted by a young aunt with no experience of children whose husband went on to abuse my mother until she left home to get married at 18 years old.

So Remembrance Sunday is not a day that I feel I can focus purely on the soldiers who 'liberated' us.  I have to remember the fallout that occurred to 'normal' citizens in 'normal' families like my own in England, Germany and many other countries.  Lives turned upside down and ripped apart because of War.

Friday, 12 November 2010


                                                                 image courtesy of google images.
My ill health has been a very strange journey.  It has brought hard times and good.  I have serum negative rheumatoid arthritis, this basically means that I do not show any rheumatoid factor in my blood but I do have raised inflammation markers in my blood and have had lots of other condition ruled out from tests.  It took a long time to get this diagnosis as a lot of doctors consider it a bit of  'I don't know what it is, so it must be nothing' approach towards it.

It feels as though so far there have been four very different stages that I have gone through.

The first 3 or 4 years (14 years ago) were characterised by severe joint pain that took a long time to get under control.  I could not walk very far, I was working as an occupational therapist and had to take about 5 months off work and there was serious doubt that I could return as my speciality required a lot of physical exertion.  Then with the help of finally finding medication that worked (immuno-suppressants) I started to improve again.

I then had two pregnancies within 2 years which led to a very unsettled time again as I had to stop medication for the last trimester in both and while I was breast feeding.

Following 2 or 3 rough years I then had a period of calm which lasted about 4 or 5 years.  I seemed to be very settled on a cocktail of drugs, immuno-suppressants, anti inflammatories and pain killers.  I would have bad days but also good times that would last months.  This period lasted a long time, so long in fact that I was seriously looking at coming off my medication.  I had been able to get back to work part-time, though in a less physically demanding position and not in the health service.  I was trying to walk to work as much as possible (a good 20 minutes walking briskly) and then it all changed again.

I was aware of increasing pain occurring in my knees, I found riding my bike becoming more and more impossible because of this pain.  After investigations it was found that I had developed osteo-arthritis in my knees as well as rheumatoid. It was decided that I would probably get some benefit from having arthroscopies on both knees and clean and smooth them out.  Unfortunately I was one of a very small percentage of people who did not benefit at all from the operation and in fact it made them worse!  On top of that my rheumatoid arthritis became very active (probably because of the surgery).  This has led to the last two years being extremely slow and painful.  The pain is now feeling more in control, I am on new chemotherapy drugs (another immuno-suppressant), I am managing to stay off pain killers just using an anti-inflammatory.

I so seem to be entering a different period though - FATIGUE, throughout the last 14 years it has always been there, but never been the main feature.  I am struggling to cope with it because it is sooooo frustrating!  It seems so silly to have to sit down after filling the laundry basket before I have got the energy to go and put it into the washing machine.  In fact instead of completely resting as I should be - I am blogging right now before I go and put the washing on.

The advantage of having all these different periods is that I know now that there is every chance that this won't stay around for too long.  In the mean time I need to take advantage of finding different ways to do/manage things, I need to consider my priorities very seriously.  These are good things to do, as my children are getting older it is also reminding me how much I need to ensure that they become more independent and not dependant on me.

So I might just stop blogging now, take a rest (perfect praying time) and then go and get the washing on!!!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Another week gone by.

This last week has been one of highs and lows - some fantastic experiences with my job and some disastrous ones at home.  I am determined not to be beaten by the lows though and continue to count the simple things in life which are such blessings to me:

288. Watching my eldest stick with her first knitting attempts with me.
289. Cuddles from little friends who I have missed while they have been on holiday.
290. Reading a good book in the middle of the night when sleep disappears, torch in hand.
291. Walking our puppy dog with fireworks going off around her and her not flinching at all - in fact she was watching them!!
292. A bath by candlelight.
293. Tears falling when they need to fall.
294. The leafless tree in my front garden, heralding the start of a new season.
295. The promise He gives to me that NOTHING is to big.
296. Cooking a Sunday lunch for my family.
297. A grateful son, doing his birthday thank you notes with no fuss at all.

Friday, 5 November 2010


I found this flow chart of the Serenity Prayer posted on Father Simon's Blog .  Having had a lovely lie in this morning trying to finish a great novel that I have been reading for a few weeks.  I got up after the children had all left for school to find my dear husband in a bad mood.  One of the things that was bothering him was the fact that our two girls had assured him last night that they had both cleared their 'floordrobes'.  This morning he had discovered that they hadn't.  On further investigation of the state of their rooms he found a pair of scissors in our Eldest's bed.  She has been known to self-harm in the past before and around the time she came to us 18 months ago.  We have been able to talk about it in the past, she has recently asked me about getting stuff to try and make her scars less obvious.  My husband then tells me that she seems to be continually asking if we are going swimming at the weekends and saying she doesn't want to (not something we do at all regularly).

So - do I add these things up, scissors in bed + talk of not wanting to go swimming + talking about self-harm = self-harming again?

I have spent the last two hours wrangling with this, how am I going to approach it?  I was completely convicted at the youthwork summit a few weeks ago when a speaker for a self-harm charity showed us some videos.  I realise that my attitude to it in the past of being purely an attention seeking, doing it because others are doing it, has not been at all helpful.  Having this attitude made me deal with it in a very strict 'do it and you can't do that' sort of way.  If she is self-harming again can I really do what all the charities advise me to do - just listen and support her to find distractions?

Then I looked at this flow-chart.  My thoughts have been all about what can I do,  I have not stopped once ask God to intervene.  If I am to receive the serenity of knowing I can not resolve this issue for her then I must trust God to do it - so maybe I have finally found the WISDOM I needed this morning.  Thanks be to God! (and to Father Simon for posting that prayer!).

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Late Walk with Him Wednesday.

Some weeks ago I wrote this blog post  I was writing about my frustrations at why my children do not like going to church.  I was reminded about it when I read this post that a friend had retweeted yesterday.  I am presently reading a little booklet called "Church Growth Through the Full Welcome of Children - The Sssh Free Church by Stephen Kuhrt (snappy title hey!), given to me to read by my boss who fortunately I am able to share my frustrations.  I can't give much of a review on the book at present as I have only read a few bits, but the bits I have read are encouraging.

So I still have no answers as to how to help my children feel comfortable, welcome and fed within the church family for whom I work, however we did this Sunday have a lovely time of Church at Home again.

We all sat around the dining table before lunch, all with our favourite Bibles in front of us.  We took time to worship God taking it in turns going round and round to see how many thank you's and amazement's we could say to God.  We then all read something we wanted to read from our Bibles.  We then talked a bit about confirmation and children taking communion, both things I am presently working on in my job.  The conversations that followed were deep and honest.  Instead of praying out loud at the end at my daughters request we just had a moment of quiet to say prayers in our hearts.

It was one of the most beautiful and moving 'church' experiences I have had in a long while and I know God was with us.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday monday.

Time to stop and remember some good stuff.

278. Getting husband to his uncles funeral up North, the last of his fathers generation.
279. My parents move going smoothly last week and the children loving their new home on a very quick visit.
280. Friends having the 5 of us into their homes for a couple of nights.
281. Friends younger children to delight in and remind me of another time.
282. Beautiful autumn colours to admire during our road trip.
283. A healthy brother-in-law with a reasonably intact leg after a terrible scare.
284. Enthusiasm for my job still bubbling after the YouthWork Summit over a week ago.
285. My son having a very simple but very happy 11th birthday.
286. Having a family 'dance' all together listening to the pop charts on the TV.
287. Pumpkin carving and pumpkin soup.

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Monday, 18 October 2010


Still counting through slightly gritted teeth.

267. Lovely walk with the dog and the children at the weekend at Farley Mount.
268. Mum and Dad staying calmer over talks about the Child Support Agency.
269. A Fantastic gift from the RAF benevolent fund to purchase a new bike for our eldest, and some extra to spend as we see fit.
270. Apple and ginger crumble tasting as good as it smelt.
271. Having the nerve and energy to carry through an invite.
272. Unexpected phone call from a friend, resulting in coffee and a great chat.
273. Registration forms for my Advent Adventures activity day for kids starting to roll in.
274. Delight of our eldest as she is allowed back on facebook after a 6 month ban.
275. No washing arguments on wash day Saturday.
276. Listening to the children sing happy birthday down the phone to my mum and her on speaker phone showing obvious delight.

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Monday, 11 October 2010

Pushing away Anger/Resentment with Grace.

I have been really struggling with growing resentments this week, but even when my heart is not feeling it - I know Gods Grace is bountiful, I KNOW it and will keep trying to FEEL it this week.

257. Unexpected warm autumn days.
258. Watching the leaves on my acer turning brilliant red.
259. Making birthday presents, holding the birthday peeps in prayer while I craft.
260. Cuddles on the sofa with my doggy while I knit.
261. Lunch in the garden with the washing drying over head.
262. Discovering a real good Christian song in the music charts.
263. Work meetings going well.
264. Caring for my children enough to get them into trouble with school.
265. Internet access at home.
266. Watching my doggy obey my husbands commands when off the lead.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

How Good is God?

I have been so confused through the night.  I became a christian in my early 20's, I saw an amazing loving community of people that I wanted to be a part of.  Jesus then came and spoke to me and invited me into a relationship with him.  Since that time in the summer of 1992 I have 'belonged' to 4 churches, all bar one move was due to moving to different parts of the country.  I currently work for my present church as the children and youth pastor.

So all should be right - yes - no.  I have three children aged 9 1/2, nearly 11 and 13 1/2, 2 girls and a boy in between them.  Our two youngest have been brought up through the churches, our eldest who has lived with us for 18 months, did attend from being approximately 9 years old.  I would say that my 11 year old stopped enjoying it at about 7 years old - he still cannot say why.  My 9 1/2 year also stopped enjoying it at around that age.  I have always been involved in the childrens ministry with them.

Have I done something wrong?  My husband took the oldest two to a youth service being run near by last night - they left after 40 minutes as they were all really not enjoying it, though husband did say that he could have stuck it out to see if it got better.

Have I given them an attitude of expectation that has become all about self grattification?  I know they are all in the process of building a relationship with Jesus, we have visited churches where they have loved stuff, they do all love being involved in family services with us.  Is it wrong for me to long for us all to 'belong' to a worshipping community that we love to be with?  Maybe my expectations of too unrealistic.

Then this morning as I wallow in the pit of confusion, my son tells me about a music video he and his little sister have watched this morning before I got up.  He told me it was a rap version of This Little Light of Mine, saying the video was brilliant and it was in the charts.  He was so impressed that when I said shall we look for it on youtube, he was by my side instantly and helped me to find it.  We then sat and watched it together, a small act of worship from the two of us this morning - thank you God.  I don't have my questions answered but I am reassured He is with me.

LZ7 - This Little Light:  FULL HD (NEW 2010 OFFICIAL)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Monday Blessings.

I am sure my weeks are getting shorter, I can not believe that yet another page on the calender has been turned.  There is however one thing that is not getting shorter - that is my list of blessings - 

247. Time to create and bead.
248. Husband getting me to come and peep out of my busy kitchen to see my girls spontaneously embracing.
249. My youngest thoroughly enjoying her first residential trip - you can visibly see how much her confidence has grown.
250. Cooking a 'proper' Sunday lunch.
251. The whole family 'enjoying' going to church together, especially as my input was minimal.
252. My flexible working week.
253. A day on Saturday with the eldest out, enjoying being just the four of us for the first time in a long time.
254. Enjoying learning about the 'Practise of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence, I bought my own copy of this but have also found a free version here .
255. Rainy days to sit in front of the television as a family.
256. Watching my little girl sitting, chatting and playing with her 3 year old guinea pigs.

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Friday, 1 October 2010

Getting Creative.

I have had the chance to do a little beading this week. As you can see my beading box has got a little dusty, it has been a few weeks since it has been out...(though it is one of my dads old work boxes from his shed so not too surprising that it looks a bit rough)...

I've made this button for a friend to put onto a black cardigan.

One of our God-daughters is going to be 7 on Friday and so I have made her this..

It's the first time I have attempted this pattern and have to confess to be rather pleased with myself!

I think I am going to attempt to teach myself (with a little cyber help) how to crochet.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Gratitude Community

I have had several moments this week when I have had to just stop and listen, when my body has given up and even keeping my eyes open is too much   When not sleeping my ears are still alert (actually I'm a mother and I reckon they don't ever totally turn off!).   It is some of those moments this week that I have heard things that have made my heart swell with gratitude.

235.  The open window from which I can hear 3 children tipping out cars and planes, voicing what they desire to create.
236.  A safe place to physically run away to when the going is too tough.
237.  The hugs from friends that show me how much they care.
238.  Being given the go ahead to launch another evangelistic event for children in our Parish.
239.  Inspiration from fellow bloggers, to create only from stuff I have already.
240.  The infectious excitement of my youngest preparing for her first residential activity holiday with school.
241.  Homework continuing to be completed with very little prompting.
242.  Having a work meeting in Starbucks - that was so much fun!
243.  Watching my big green pumpkin growing in my veg patch turning a luminous orange in the darker evening.s
244.  Central Heating which works with the first switch on of the autumn.
245.  A big bag of sticks gathered from our chimney, from the crows failing to make a nest on our chimney pot in the spring - nice and dry and ready for a small bonfire one fine night.
246.  Ann Voskamp - getting me to write down these blessings, is making my heart swell, thank you x.


Friday, 24 September 2010

When you can't do anything right!

                                                                       Picture from google images.

I have had a horrible week this week, I seem to be falling out with everybody!  Yesterday for the first time in my life I found myself shouting at my dad!  The result of all this is I feel like one hell of a bad guy - after all I am the common denominator in the upsets.

I wonder if it is to do with just another 'life stage' that we seem to be going through.  There have been a lot of deaths and some very serious illness occurred in our church family this last few months.  Amongst our friends there seems to be an increase in their parents becoming ill and requiring more help and/or dying.  I know I should be feeling compassionate and empathetic towards them all but I don't.  When I see that someone has lived three score years and ten (plus quite a lot, some of them!)then it feels like they have had a long life.  I know this probably all relates to the grief that I still feel over my little sister dying at 36 years old nearly two years ago. 

My husbands parents have both passed away, his father 10 years ago and his mother just over 2 1/2 years ago.  I on the other hand still have both my parents and my grandmother (really my great Aunt on my mothers side). The later is in a nursing home requiring full time care, she no longer knows who her family are, except that she often refers to my mum as being her sister who died 10 years ago.  However my parents no longer feel like my parents.  Since my sister died they have gone from their 'young' real ages (now 65 and 64 years) to elderly folk who can no longer look after others.  I am really struggling with this!  I am not ready to take on more caring!  I am struggling enough looking after my 'new' family. So why do I feel so guilty about letting them just get on with what they are doing and accepting the flack that they give me when I am not 'helping'?

I have been wondering this morning whether this is actually progress - that I have been able to express some frustration to my father on earth.  Through all the trying times of the last few years I have never once felt angry towards God my father in heaven.  I have been told by many that I can be, that it is allowed, that He is big enough to cope with my anger - but I have just not felt it.  Maybe the anger is starting to come out - I just so hope I don't upset anyone irreparably in the process!

Maybe I need to be wearing some sort of danger sign around my neck to warn people of possible explosions  or maybe I just need to stay in doors today and do a bit of crafting!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Tired but still thank full.

We have had a very busy weekend, but have so much to be thankful for:

225. Friends visiting from Australia with their latest edition to the family since we saw them last.

226.  My boy pleased with himself for making fire!

227.  My eldest also getting a successful go.

228.  The growth of a family, 3 friends became 3 couples and between us we have 9 children!

229.  My boy makes his own marshmallow toasting fork.

230.  Something my safety aware and fire shy youngest dares to join in with.

231.  Fun into the night.

232.  Visting critters from the garden.
234.  Stamina to keep going when I really need to.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Attachment Disorder - an update.

I can't believe it was June when I first wrote about coming to terms with and learning about attachment disorders in my blog.  Three months on there have been good times and bad.  I thought it might be useful to write down all the boundaries that we put in place and where we are up to with them now.

1. Not leaving to walk to school until 25 minutes before school starts (it's a good 20 minutes walk away).
2. Being home 25 minutes after school has finished.
3. Not watching any programmes on television made for viewing after 8pm.
4. Suspending her facebook account.
5. Not being allowed to stay in the house either by herself or with the younger two, for any amount of time.
6. Not being allowed to spend any time in her bedroom except for when with friends or doing music practise (which we can hear downstairs!).
7. Not attending any afterschool clubs because of the time curfew.
8. Only attending existing evening clubs where we know the leaders and take and fetch her.
9. No having her computer (which has no internet access anyway) upstairs to watch DVD's on.
10. No taking the dog for a walk by herself.
11. No walking to or from friends houses by herself.
12. No access to her mobile phone.

I am sure there may have been some other things!  What a huge list!  The more difficult ones, were the ones where she was no longer able to do things her 10 year old cousin was still allowed to do.

The good news is we have not had any major attention seeking behaviour (which was escalating before the new rules) since we started.  There have been times of really pushing the boundaries, when she has conveniently forgotten that certain things are out of bounds but has persistantly kept asking to do them and stropping when not allowed.

Now I am not putting the improvements all down to us and our boundaries!  It is also very interesting to note that we (or her) have had no contact with her father during this time.  The school summer holidays were hard work, we relaxed some of the rules, we allowed her to start walking the dog and she was allowed to play out on our street with neighbours children without being supervised.

One aspect that seemed to go down with less fuss than anything else was the not being able to spend time in her room alone.  There  have been very few times when we have had to remind her about this one and the self-harming behaviour has not been happening at all.  We had also done a huge clearout of her belongings with her permission.  She has actually expressed how much more she likes her room now it has not much in it - no reminders -  are her words.  I'm not exactly sure what the reminders were but she seems happy not to have them around her.

Now that the new school term has started more relaxing of rules is also taking place,  we have removed the ban on watching TV programmes made for after 8pm viewing, though are watching the progammes she does watch with her.  She has already stayed behind at school on one occassion for a one off activity and we are considering allowing her to start a new weekly afterschool club.  She has been allowed to stay home alone for short periods of time, though always without any prior notice from us.  She has asked for her mobile phone back, which we have given her though it has to live in the kitchen in a stand unless she is going out with it (it has remained in the kitchen in the stand for the last two weeks!)  Just this evening she has asked when she can go back to her facebook account, we have agreed to consider giving it back to her at 1/2 term (end of October) dependent on how she copes up until then.

Her therapy sessions have lessened to approximately once a month and I now always go in with her.  Her therapist can see a big change in eye contact, tone of voice and body language.  I find the sessions very hard going, especially when I have been feeling quite low anyway, I am being given the strength to persevere though.  She seems to be quite enthusiastic about having a positive start to being in Year 9 at school and has been getting on with homework with minimum fuss.

We have turned a corner, there are plenty more to come, as with everybody we do not know what tomorrow will bring, and to be honest I'm quite relieved by that most of the time!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Finding a new routine.

I do think it is funny how I long to have some 'normality' in my life.  You would think after 42 years I might start to understand that there is no such thing as 'normal'.  I suppose what I really crave is some sort of order, as do most folk I find routines comforting - they give me a sense of being able to complete something.  The problem I find in life though is that the routines keep having to change.  At the start of the children's summer holidays there is a new routine to find, where we can all relax and feel on 'holiday'.  Now that they have gone back to school,  I can't just pick up the old routine we were using 3 months ago.  The children are a bit older, they are doing different things, they want different things.

I set some boundaries with the three of them last week,  at the end of last term, homework got very out of hand.  I was not being consistent, they were not bringing homework home, or arguing about doing it, or not putting any effort into it.  So my new boundary set was that if I had to moan at them to get on with homework, if they forgot it, or if they did not do it or hand it back in, then pocket money would be deducted from them.

Now whether it was the shock of that or whether as I hope, they have all made a new commitment in this new school year to work hard, the homework situation last week was dreamy.  Long may it continue.

Hopefully for me my new routine of work and home life will start to settle and I might start feeling productive again.  In the meantime I continue to count my blessings.

215.  Morning Prayer with my work colleagues.
216.  The comfort of my bed when my body hurts.
217.  Sunshine on my face.
218.  Sunday lunch outside in the garden.
219.  Time to declutter and give away what we really do not need.
220.  Friends who will pop round and forgive me for talking with my eyes closed when my lids are too heavy.
221.  The comfort of my puppy jumping onto my garden chair to snooze with me.
222.  The quietness of a walk in the New Forest on a Sunday afternoon.
223.  The reminder to pace myself better.
224.  The longing He puts in my heart.

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Friday, 10 September 2010

My Rose Garden

Remember this:

I blogged my new Rose garden as a blessing back in May this year.  I hadn't realised that I had written so little!   I was inspired to try and grow roses a few years ago after visiting the famous rose gardens at the National Trust property Mottisfont Abbey, which is about 25 minutes away from us.  Their gardens are planted in a way I had never seen roses grown before - in huge beds with lots of annuals and perennials growing up and around and through them.

During a visit from my step-mother-in-law, she insisted on taking me to a local rose grower Pococks Roses.  It was very daunting walking into somewhere as a complete and absolute beginner.  I need not have worried though - I told them about my plans and my lack of knowledge and they reassuring told me which of the many different types of roses they had, would suit my plans.  As I result I came home and planted, let me introduce:


Seventh Heaven
Special Anniversary

and finally Sweet Valentine
I don't have a photo of the whole garden at the moment but look what I can see from my kitchen window now:

I don't have a picture of my 'Sweet Valentine' red rose yet, but have several about to open so will post it as soon as it does.  I am planning to purchase another in November when the next batch are ready - the one I am after is called Winchester Cathedral and is a beautiful white fragant rose.  All four that I have at the moment are fragrant and especially in the evening my whole garden has gentle perfumes covering it.  At the moment I have also got planted some perenial blue geraniums, some japenese anenomies and a lovely blousy fuscia.  Next spring I intend to do a bit of seed planting around them to see if I can get just a bit more of a Mottisfont feel to the patch. 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Renewing a Stained T-shirt.

I was really cross with myself the other week.  I put on a cream t-shirt and then went outside to do some gardening.  I know, I know, I didn't even notice the stain until I was doing my ironing after washing it.  I was not happy, there was no way it was going to come out.
You can see the mark in the centre at the bottom.  I was especially annoyed because it is a fairly new fairtrade t-shirt from Marks and Spencers.  So I put my thinking cap on and now have a much nicer t-shirt.
In fact I prefer my t-shirt now to when it was plain - hooray!
The fabric I used was from an old pair of linen trousers which had worn out.  I used bamboo buttons that used to be on my duvet cover until the holes started to grow and I had to replace the buttons.  I used 2 strands of embroidery silk for the central designs and one strand for the edge stitching.  I pinched the heart design from at Down to Earth, she has a free downloadable pattern for an embroidery I am still in the process of! Before doing the embroidery I ironed onto the squares some bondaweb, then embroidered, then ironed the squares onto the t-shirt before finishing with the buttons and edge stitching.  All in all it has taken me a couple of hours which I have done while playing scrabble on facebook!  How smug am I now feeling!  It has been quite good biblical teaching to me as well, as it does tell us in the bible:

Revelation 21: 1-5
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more ... I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling of God is with men ... He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall mourning nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away... And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."

Monday, 6 September 2010

Filled by Grace.

My last post was so gloomy, I do apologise, these times just happen occasionally.  I do feel that God heard my cries and I have been blessed by lovely contacts with friends and much patience by my family.  As a result God's refreshing waters have been filling up the gaping hole that I had found myself in.

Now seems a good time to sit back and look some more of the wondrous blessings that pass before my eyes each day.

201.  A safe secure home.
202.  Children willing to express their love for me.
203.  Roses blooming in my garden.
204.  Food in my cupboards, fridge and freezer.
205.  New shoes and uniforms for the children to start school with.
206.  Generous friends passing on clothes for my girls.
207.  A hospital check up with no waiting around.
208.  My car.
209.  Friends little children willing to hug and kiss me and letting me read them stories.
210.  Good books to read from the library. (That reminds me I MUST renew them!).
211.  A patient workplace letting me ease back into a job that I love.
212.  Watching my puppy dog playing with her toys.
213.  Ears to listen with, even when I do not really want to hear what is being said.
214.  My eldest being willing to go to work with my hubby for a day so that I can work.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Stuck in a Depression.

When all you want to do is get attention and please people you are inevitably going to have times when you fail.  I would love to know why I am have such a burning desire for these unattractive attributes.  For years my faith has kept these desires at bay, any hopes that they had been destroyed have unfortunately been proven unfounded.

Even writing this blog is suddenly a ridiculous self absorbed thing.

I know I have fallen into a depression,  I also know that I am not going to be able to get out of it alone.  I had a wonderful series of pictures about 18 months ago, maybe they were one of the tools God gave me to help me now.  The pictures were of a series of holes in the ground, they were deep holes and each one had a person at the bottom of it.  In each hole the person was doing something - most of them were trying to get out of their holes without success.  There were also some people ignoring the help that was being offered by others  from above their holes.  My favourite of these pictures was of the hole being filled with water by a hose put into it from people around the top of the it.  This was not intended to drown the person in the hole!  All the person in the hole needed to do was float on the surface of the water.  As they lay back floating the water lifted them out of the hole.

My prayer for the moment is to be floated out of this depression I have fallen into.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Two Hundred Blessings.

We have been away for a couple of weeks and then had a very busy week doing a childrens Holiday Club (VBS) as part of my job.  We have been unbelievably blessed, here are just a few:

180.  The rest and relaxation needed to allow me to go outside my comfort zone with the children while away.
181.  The sunshine and warmth in Turkey.
182.  The peace He gives me about my unkempt garden.
183.  The time He gives me to overcome a nasty summer cold.
184.  A boss (Vicar) who reassures me that the quality of my work is the most important thing.
185.  Children giggling with their friends after time apart.
186.  The quick sale of my parents house. (3days!!!!)
187.  A happy fluffy white puppy.
188.  Beautiful sunsets.
189.  The smell of home-made bread baking.
190.  Two weeks of doing NO cooking.
191.  Friends from the North coming for holidays in the South and popping in to see us.
192.  Girls playing with guinea pigs.
193.  A friend noticing how much my son is growing up.
194.  Cups of tea with friends.
195.  An unexpected small but perfectly thought out present from a friend in New Zealand.
196.  Refreshing rains.
197.  Answered prayers - especially those that I did not know what outcome I wanted.
198.  A husband who can hold the fort when my health goes into meltdown.
199.  A clean house - even if it only lasts a couple of hours.
200.  The blogosphere - it is always here even when I leave it.