Friday, 30 April 2010

Wild Flower Walk.

Today I got the opportunity to go for a lovely walk with my puppy and my husband.  Having my husband along gave me the extra bonus of being able to get some lovely photographs.  We decided to go to a place called Pepperbox Hill, 5 miles from Salisbury city centre - you can see the cathedral in the picture above.  It was about a 35 minute drive from home, a place my husband had noticed as we had driven by on many occassions but a place at which we had never stopped at before.  It is land that is looked after by the National Trust, though their website says nothing about it, there is a small car park from which walk paths are marked.  There is a sort of 'folly' building at the top of the hill which a sign told us was built so that the land owner could see what his neighbours were up to!

The walk turned into a wild flower delight, these are what we saw
I think this might be a type of Bugle?
wild garlic
not sure what these are??
possibly Toothwort??

As you can see I am not very good at identifying my wildflowers - note to self - get a good book!  It was not a long walk but it was extreemly enjoyable and a good bit of exercise.  I can't believe that I am 5 months into my 6 months off work - I do feel quite pleased with what I have achieved, to be able to take a couple of hours out to go on a walk to look at wild flowers makes me feel I must be reasonably relaxed.  Long may that continue!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Thanksgiving on Monday. (Even though it is Tuesday).

It's been another tough week, but we are all still here and I'm counting my blessings once more.

195.  A very happy puppy after playing in the compost!
196. The funds to have very messy puppy turned into very smart puppy!
197. The miraculous turning from kitchen and garden waste to lovely compost for the garden.
198.  A new garden bed ready for some compost and waiting for the decision on what it shall hold to be made.
199. Seeing the children get excited and learning how to cheer and encourage complete strangers while watching the London Marathon.
200. Seeing the amazing number of people running, knowing that millions of pounds are being raised for lots of different charities.
201.  Being awestruck at the amazing 'painted' ducks in Richmond Park.
202. Watching the children enjoy 'stepping stones' in the Isobella Plantation at Richmond Park.
203. Admiring my son, taking some advice and practising with 'Daddys' camera.
204.  The glorious colours of Spring.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Being Esther.


"The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus" by Jan Victors, c1640.

Little did I know last week when I was studying the book of Esther how useful this teaching was going to immediately be to me this week!

While on our family holiday at Spring Harvest in Minehead, Somerset the evening bible teaching was all focused on the book of Esther.  Now I had read Esther before, but I have to confess if someone had said to me what had Esther done in the Bible, I would not have immediately been able to tell the story.  The teaching took place over 5 evenings with a different speaker each night, we were blessed with brilliant speakers!  The Bible reading was done in dramatic style by a theatre company who used some very unusual puppets using paper mache masks held with one hand while the other arm belonged to the character.  I was absolutely entranced by it.  The story went in, I also found that I spent a lot of time during the day reading and mediatating on the story to - it all felt like brand new food made especially to meet by spirits needs.  In fact I enjoyed it so much that I did not go to any other teaching seminars - that would have just spoilt such fine food!

I love the whole concept of standing up for what you beleive is right, for trusting those who are close to God and need to use you and your position to carry out His will.  I love the humility of Mordecai  who gives up his beloved child whom he has raised and allows her to go into this most risky position not knowing for certain that she will be made Queen.  

This week my 13 year old neice for whom we are full time Kinship carers told us she wanted to go and live with her dad.  She told us he had said in the past that she could, even though he has never said this to any other members of the family.  I have known since my sister died 18 months ago that she has harbored this desire to live with him even though she has spent no more than a couple of hours with him in the last 10 years. This is the first time she has said it outloud to us, it might have been precipitated by having just been told off for something quite serious, or by the nasty e-mail we received from here which we made her aware of at the beginning of the Easter holidays (accusing us of trying to cut her off from him amongst other untrue stuff).  However, I immediately felt the 'right' thing to do would be to call him immediately and ask him if it was at all likely that he would consider having her.  I got the telephone, no answer at home, so tried his mobile, he answered, my neice stayed with me while I told him what she had said and asked him the question.  After listening to him garble on about nothing I passed the phone to her to speak to him.  He obviously asked her why and her response was 'because you are my dad'.  He had nothing else to say to her except to acknowledge to her that he could here she was upset, I asked for the phone back and requested that before we went into it in any more details, we could really do with knowing whether it was feasable at all (knowing full well that it was most likely not).  I asked for a response by the end of this week.

As soon as I got off the phone and finished chatting with my neice, the doubts started to creep in - what if he calls our bluff and says 'yes' he wants her to go and live with him!  We so did not want this, I know my sister did not want it and my parents most definately did not want it.  How though could I try and teach my neice to be open and honest if I was not going to be open and honest to those I love most.  In the past we have just commiserated with her that her dad has shown no interest, however this time it felt like it needed to come straight from him.

Well here we are on Friday lunch time, I have not had the requested telephone call, I did however receive an email the day before yesterday from him (I had specifically asked him not to email us) - it outlines 11 reasons why he should not have her, without at any time saying - 'no' it is not feasible.  My husband and I decided that we should tell her this information, as you can imagine it caused a lot of tears.  We have decided to just sit and wait to see if the phone call happens at all, she did not want to call him after we talked with her.  Once again we shall be picking up peices for the next few weeks I imagine.

So it was worth taking the Esther stance, saying what we believed was the right thing not knowing whether the consequences would go the way we hoped at all.  Boy trusting God can be hard work sometimes,  but I'm determined to keep trusting and keep learning!

Esther 8:4 (NIV version)

Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I'm Back!

184.  Fabulous day out in London, broke the bank but bandaged us together.
185. Clatworthy Resevoir the opportunity to reinforce learning for our 13 yr old.

  186. Sunny days for our Easter Break.

 187 Minehead, host to Spring Harvest and our home for 5 wonderful spiritualy refreshing days for all the family.

188 The great pleasure of seeing so many kids scooters parked up around the site - all in their groups praising God together.

189 The chance for my youngest to catch up with her best friend for 3/4 of an hour before we left.

190 Back home to lots of balmy evenings to go dog walking with the family.

191 The girls guinea pigs being introduced to each other for the first time and getting on!

192 The most amazing friends sticking by us through thick and thin.

193 Even letting us bring our puppy dog into their 'cats' home!

194 The most amazing husband in the world.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Doing something Different.

 Our Messy Church crafts and my Easter Cake.

For the last 4 months I have been off work after asking for 6 months unpaid leave.  That left us in a bit of a difficult place as I work for the church where we have been worshipping.  It is not a place that we really feel is 'home' as churches have in the past and therefore has made us feel quite liberated.  We have taken the opportunity to worship at a lot of different places, friends churches, old churches we have attended in the past, other local churches, which has been a good experience for us and the children I think.  We have also taken the opportunity to not doing any 'formal' worship on Sunday mornings, choosing to stay as a family and make our own 'church' for a half hour at home some times.

We attended a lovely 'Messy Church' at our local Methodist Church on Good Friday.  This was not particularly aimed at the age group of our children, however our eldest was running a small craft group and doing her first public 'puppet' show, so we all went to give her our support.
 our Motley crew how have we grown from 4 adult friends to 10?
Easter Saturday we met up with an old Christian buddy who I have not seen for 2 years we spent a wonderful day eating together, walking together, talking together (and later the men kids watched Dr Who giving me and Naomi a chance for a good girly chin wag).

Easter Sunday we had intended to try and go to the 6.30am Sunrise service in our near by town as the children have never experienced one of these.  However we got back very late from our friends on Saturday and made the agreement that if our puppy woke us up early we would go, if she didn't we wouldn't.  Low and behold for the first time in a very long time she did not wake up until 6.20 - too late for us to get to the service.  Instead we all stayed in bed until each one of us was ready to get up (in my case 10am - very unusual!).  When we had all wished each other a happy Easter morning and breakfasted my husband and I did a small easter egg hunt in the garden for the children.  As they are getting older and enjoy a little quiz, they all had to answer questions on the Easter story before they could go off and search for something!  This was great fun and the girls enjoyed it so much they did one for me later in the day!  My husband took the quiet opportunity to go and take some photos of the beautiful flowers in our garden, I spent some time looking over the budding and flowering garden and came across a butterfly I have never seen before.

After a light lunch of hot cross buns we met up with some friends (a work pal of my husbands and his wife and dog) and went for a walk on the beach near where they live.  This was very very liberating and gave me a chance to privately worship with the wind and the sunshine.

It is probably the first time I have ever really completely been bowled over by the concept of the Ressurection on easter Sunday.  That might sound so daft considering how many of these services I have been to.  However, for a good many years now I have usually been working in one form or another during the service with the children.  This has meant I have focused on different aspects of the Easter story - and never gone into any great mature depth of the Ressurection.  However, when I woke up I was thinking/dreaming about my late sister and I had the most distinct picture of her dancing with Jesus.  This is when it struck me, if it hadn't of been for what happened on that cross then my sister would not have been with Jesus - we would have stayed seperated from God - that is just the most unbearable thought.

We returned home happy, healthy and ready for a lovely meal together - a very enjoyable but very different Easter Sunday, the first since being a Christian when I haven't been to formal 'Church'.

174. Our beautiful home, our safe haven.
175. Friends who let time go and just enjoy the moments we do get together.
176. Nourishing food on our table.
177. God speaking to me through my own experience to deepen my understanding.
178. Children happy to go along with our flexible 'church' approach at the moment.
179. Fairtrade chocolate!
180. My eldest showing great maturity and self-constraint in conversation with her natural father.
181. My body, allowing me to walk, especially those knees.
182. The opportunity to go away on a Christian conference this week - Spring Harvest here we come.
183. Watching a film with a glass of wine in the evening.