Sunday, 28 January 2007
On my Own...
Leaving Mark and the kids behind...
And I Can't Wait...
Being a staff intern at church does have its perks, one of which is being invited to attend the Vineyard National Leaders' Conference, all expenses paid...
I am so excited and cannot wait to have some time to really 'hang out' with God, worship Him, wait on Him, and see what He has to reveal to me. I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to practise listening to Him, and hopefully also to allow Him to speak into other people's lives through me...
And I'm also really looking forward to spending quality time with people from church, and, yes, with myself! I know this may sound indulgent and somewhat introspective; but I've only recently started to really get to know (or rather rediscover) myself, and realise that I actually quite like myself *grin*... This is completely God's work in me, as not even a year ago, my self-esteem was pretty rock-bottom and I disliked myself with a passion!!
I think maybe the fact that every spare minute of "space" (from the kids and from the rush of every day life) is a little precious treasure, has something to do with desperately wanting to make the most of each of these moments spent alone and in God's company. And as I've started relishing those times, God has done an amazing healing work in me, restoring my self-esteem and image, and replacing my self-loathing with increasing self-respect. I'm not "there" yet but I've come a LOOOONG way!
So, for all these reasons, and many more I'm sure, I feel incredibly blessed and priviledged to be given this opportunity. My expectations of this time away are quite high and there is a danger in that, that there may be some disappointment along the line.
My challenge to myself therefore, is to come back from the conference and be able to share with those of you who will listen, some of what God has laid on my heart during my time away. Kind of like an 'accountability' thing.
So I guess I'll say goodbye for now, and see you next week end!
To be continued...
Friday, 26 January 2007
Well, there are certain things in Thomas' world that are rather challenging, as he has Down's Syndrome...And having his hair cut is easily the most challenging, traumatic experience that he has to go through on a reasonably regular basis.
On a trauma scale of 0-10, 10 being highly traumatic for all parties involved, haircutting is, in fact, way off the scale!
But Today was The Day.
There was no way round it.
We'd reached an 'impasse' and the Hair was going to have to get cut.
So I gently prepared Thomas, stripped him down, laid the kitchen vinyl table-cloth on the lounge floor, and presented him with a bowl of little chocolates...
Tom, being a bright, clever child, has now sussed that whenever he gets chocolates 'en masse', there is usually some kind of sneaky trickery going on. And before I could make any significant impact on his fine blond strands of hair while his hands were supposedly busy shoving chocolates in his mouth, he had gobbled them all up, and his little hands were free to fight me. And boy was he ready for a fight!!
The Scissors were clearly not going to cut it...
Desperate times calling for desperate measures, I had to move up a gear, especially seeing as it was nearly time for the afternoon school run.
And so I reluctantly got my 'clippers' out, pinned the poor little thing down and, in spite of his screams of protest, proceeded to give my baby a proper big boy's haircut...
It was jolly hard work, and I did wonder whether I was going to have to give up, leaving Thomas with part long-hair, part chopped. But, look: I made it!
I had hesitated to get this drastic for a while, wanting to preserve the 'cute' look for as long as possible; but I actually think that Tom might look even more cute now.
However I know I'm biased when it comes to judging my kids' cuteness, and so thought I'd post some before and after pictures, just so you can judge for yourself.
What do you reckon?!?? Gorgeous - or what???
This is a fairly new batch - there aren't very many because I've lost my momentum since I've started blogging, surprisingly.
The one at the very top is Miriam's Birthday card...
Happy birthday for the 28th if you're reading this, I made it especially for you ;) See I didn't forget!
The bottom ones are just random designs, just what I felt like at the time...
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
On August 26th 2006 my middle brother, Christopher, married his teenage sweetheart, MC...it was a long awaited celebration for the whole family and a truly memorable day! And I have been given permission by the lovely newlyweds, to share with the blogging world some of the most beautiful pictures from the wedding. These capture the essence of the day in all its glory; and it is at moments like these that I can most readily say I am so incredibly proud to be a big sister!! You guys are beautiful :) Apart from the first few photos which don't need captions, we have: a) the reception barn; b) Dad in full speech; c) Mum and headdress; d) 3 brothers; e) Flo, Mark's fiancee. (NB: That is - brother Mark, not husband Mark...obviously!)
I have just received through the post the new David Crowder Band album, 'A Collision', which is weird in places but mostly pretty awesome!
Yes, the guy is a complete - albeit holy - nutter!!
I just couldn't resist sharing it with you. Like it?!?!
Add an 'accute accent' on each 'e' of the word meme, and it means 'old granny' in French...
So you'll understand why I really needed to delve into the "Wonders of Wiki" on Paul's advice, to find out the meaning of this funny little word which bloggers the world over seem to be acquainted with - all, with one exception, that is: ME.
Without further ado, please find the definition of a meme here!!
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Call it hormones, call it mid-winter blues, call it exhaustion, call it weakness...Whatever it is, I am melancholy and am faced with a tough choice: do I indulge in self-pity or do I fight it?
The easy choice is the one I've opted for most of my life: 'just go with it! Can you really be bothered to look up, when it's so much easier to look down, it requires less effort and at least you know it's "safe", it's familiar and you've got nothing to lose!'. Plus I am totally justified in feeling blue at this particular moment in time, seeing as, apparently, yesterday was dubbed 'The Most Miserable Day Of The Year' - or as beautifully expressed in some BBC News report: "Misery is expected to peak on Monday, as 24 January has been pinpointed as the worst day of the year". (have a look, it makes for a pretty fascinating read, if rather sad...!)
Well, I must say I fit the stats: my diet is slowly but surely going down the pan, money is - let's face it - pretty tight, spring is lightyears away, and my whole life feels a little bit like a slog.
This is where I have that choice. Am I going to just follow a trend, allowing it to seep into my thinking, and giving the negative spirit in me more bait to feed on???
I am slowly discovering that I can actually have a say with pretty much any state of mind I find myself in...
This revelation and its reality are completely of God. And it's a steep learning curve, one that is rather painful at times!
While any human being is entitled to feeling sad, depressed, cross, tired, weepy, etc, I now firmly believe that every Bible-believing, God-loving, Christ-redeemed human being has also been given authority and power over their thinking.
I can therefore chose to think:
"Poor little me, I'm so tired; I'm feeling really rubbish today, and lazy and I can't be bothered to be nice to anyone, or pleasant to my husband or my children or any of my friends or Mums at the school gate; In fact I'm just going to hide today. Nobody really cares about me anyway! Everyone else is better than me; my house is such a mess, but I really don't have the energy to do anything about it, I just can't be bothered!"....and so on and so forth :)....
"Ok Lord, here I am: I'm feeling tired, grumpy, unpleasant, lazy, and empty today, but I will to use this day to glorify and serve You. I don't want to let any of this get to me, and I'm going to worship you in my weakness instead of wallowing in it. Instead of putting my negative feelings, thoughts, emotions on the throne, I declare that you are Lord over them."
It's not about pretending there's no rubbish in my life, because of course, there is PLENTY! But it's about deciding what will rule my life. And I have the ability, indeed the power and authority, in Jesus' name, to decide.
And I can really testify to this: when I decide to go through the narrow gate, choose the more challenging option, the less popular one, then something amazing happens: the fog lifts and I find myself slowly but surely engulfed in a pure sense of joy and victory...!
So here it is. No time for clever quotes from scripture or other authors, however I know this to be the best way. In fact I know it's the only way, and the way Jesus taught us to live.
PS: actually on second thoughts, here is the one quote from Scripture which I can't leave out:
sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we
take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians
Saturday, 20 January 2007
I was scouring Miriam's blog this morning (I'd greatly recommend anyone to go do the same btw as it makes for a pretty good uplifting read!) and found this weird-but-cool site that takes random words out of your website or blog and creates a 'word cloud'... Pretty isn't it?!?! The internet is full of wonderful quirky little surprises! Well - I like it anyway.
Friday, 19 January 2007
Well if there was ever a time for me to feel 'wobbly', 'tis now...God is putting my trust in Him to the test once more; I've been through this before, but every time it gets worse!
It was my idea too...
Mark has just set off for Devon, with Sam and Tom in the back. It's about 3 hours in the car, so they will not get there until around 11 o'clock-ish. I decided to stay behind as I find it unsettling going away for such a short period of time, and I'm happier at home, also Ben is still young enough for me to be able to justify not rocking his precarious routines...wimp that I am.
But I have to confess I shed a few tears as I waved them off; I hate goodbyes! And saying goodbye to my most precious ones, well I can't stand it. It takes me over the edge slightly and I'm ashamed to say I let my imagination go into overdrive.
So again tonight I am reminded of how desperately weak and pathetic I can be sometimes, and that it's harder to 'do' something than to 'say' it. (see previous post...!!)
It is a real exercise of the will, to trust and to fear only God. I must keep going back to his promises: He cares for me. His plans for my life are good, they are to prosper me and not to harm me. He is steadfast, He is my Shield, He is my Rock and my Salvation and I WILL put my hope in Him.
Thursday, 18 January 2007
It is so windy out there it feels my house could be blown over any minute...
Out in our garden, we have a couple of stunning mature Silver Birches, and they are swaying this way and that, threatening to uproot and cause quite a lot of damage in the process.
I hate, no - LOATHE, squally weather conditions!!
I am truly terrified.
But I also find myself in a strangely reflective mood.
God is at least a thousand times more powerful - in fact he is so much more powerful still, it's not actually quantifyable (is that a word? Yeah - it must be; I'm not clever enough to make up new words...At least not today.) nor sould it be. Suffice to say that his Power is infinitely more terrifying than the most horrific of hurricanes.
And yet, this awesome, huge God is MY God and he is crazy about me!!
The question is, do I fear My God as I should? Do I fear Him as much as I fear the gale that's blowing out in my back garden today?
If not is it because I do not see or expect enough of His Power at work in my life? Is it because I do not allow Him to demonstrate His Power in my life in a way that would cause me to fall more readily to my knees?
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"...
"Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life" (The Message, Proverbs 9)
Yes this has to be my prayer, this is the cry of my heart for today: 'God teach me to fear you; I want to be wiser, more intimate with you...I want to have my eyes opened to your power, to what you are doing in my life and in other people's lives around me.'
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
I'm not worthy; not clever; not funny...
I don't even have any belly-button fluff to trawl through, being a clean individual!
Well, ok then. You asked for it.
Question is, once I get started, will I be able to stop??
Shall I start?
Here goes. Don't say I didn't warn you though...
(and to quote Jamie: all responses are... "assuming love of God and love of family" ; also... "it’s my blog, I can do what I want"... I like it!! Thanks, I'll pop over properly one of these days and introduce myself)
1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why?
Not teaching, that's for sure!! I have to take this opportunity to take my hat off to all of you out there who have kept going where I gave up. You guys are all amazing, and my teaching days simply were NOT; that's why I gave it up, to have babies...and enjoy life. I guess I just wasn't suited to it; although I think it's true what they say: once a teacher, always a teacher. Humph.
Having said all of that, the most enjoyable and fun 'work' I've ever done was going into various primary school classrooms, as a volunteer, to hear kids read one-on-one; and also to help and support small group activities, especially with weaker pupils.
I was fresh out of school myself and had taken a year out to do some stuff with Scripture Union.
There were so many kids I fell in love with, and who quite liked me too...It was truly, deeply fulfilling, so much so that I would one day, when I have time (erm, that'll be never then?!) love to go back and do this, in my own kids' school.
Some of you might question why I didn't say the most fun work I've ever done was 'have kids'...
Just hold that thought, I'll write a proper post about that one day.
2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did?
I'm afraid it's gonna have to be quite a fews things. Hope that's ok. (cf Jamie's quote above...)
These are in no particular order:
Laugh a lot
Cry a lot
Go for very long walks
Make much sense in my head
Sing in a worship band...(but that's a long story - and God's so in it, I'll have to write a post about that too sometime, lol)
Enjoy swimming in the sea, cos it's too cold and I hate cold water. Maybe I should just do what Mark did, and buy a wet suit?
B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off?
Well, until about 2 weeks ago, I would have definately said start a diet. But I have since signed up on WeightWatchers, and have so far lost 2lbs (that's about 1kg for you frogs) - am so proud of myself...
So next thing on the list is: Start my own card-making business.
But that's never likely to happen, seeing as I am in no way, shape or form any good with money, finances, budgeting, book-keeping, etc.
Paul, being an accountant, maybe you could give me a few tips???
3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why?
Like to learn: to be more assertive and confident, and godly and gracious, and humble and PATIENT (although most of these should actually be in the second category...)
Also, I would love to learn to play jazz piano, speak Spanish and understand numbers...
Like to be better at: all the above, + understanding teenagers, painting/drawing, reading life-enhancing, non-fictitious books - there are so many books out there, written by some amazing godly authors, that I'd love to have the wherewithal to tackle, but just don't have the time, or energy, or - what was that word again? - wherewithal...
B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn?
Man, these are getting tough!
Dead: at the risk of sounding 'clicheed', Mother Teresa, I think. I would hope to learn about real sacrifice, and love for the poor, which is an issue I'm being really challenged on at the moment.
Living: Jackie Pullinger; similar reasons, I think I'm just hungry to see more miracles, and more of God's Spirit restoring people's lives.
4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
Lovely, caring, mature
B. Now list two more words you wish described you…
5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes)
(cf Jamie's quote, once more!!)
Getting alongside people who are broken, and trying to share a bit of Jesus with them
Writing/making or doing things with my hands (ie baking, cards-making, drawing, drilling holes into walls, that kind of thing...)
6) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone
Mmmm, that's a good one: should it be a question I have which relates to the mundane aspects of my daily existence (like "why is a toddler's output in the nether regions quite so smelly or abundant, when they hardly eat a thing?"), or something slightly more spiritual and edifying, and of some interest to the 'general public'??
Can that be my question???
No - I didn't think I'd get away with it so easily...
Here's one, among many, that I do ask myself every year at Christmas time, and that I'd quite like answered by someone with a bit more patience and hindsight than me...:
"why do we bother with Christmas cards??"
I mean, if I want to tell my nearest and dearest, and all my friends, that I love them and appreciate them, why wait till Christmas? Why not just pick up the phone and tell them?
And if it's just a way of keeping in touch with people I don't have much to do with anymore, why can't I just MOVE ON???
I don't know, I really struggle with the whole thing and as you may be able to tell, I'm still recovering from my annual sense of failure to get all my cards in the post on time!! Christmas is busy and expensive enough without the added pressure and cost of producing, writing and posting millions of cards each year, surely?
Maybe my real question should be "do I really have to conform?"...
Now, let's see...
Erm: B, Blest, Debs and Miriam (sorry, you've probably done thousands of these...)
And remember: we have ways of making you talk...
Monday, 15 January 2007
Ben post haircut, just, and recovering in front of soothing Teletubbies...
(You mean, mean Mummy...)
Love affair with a Hat
"Daddy, you look a bit weird"...(and not quite so cute)
marbles...for the first time!!
Sam in awe of marbles: look, that's a big one...
I think Mark's lost his...hehe
Sam, thanks to Molly , is now forever obsessed with...
Annnd...: Sam is riding his bike AT LAST!!!!!
Saturday, 13 January 2007
The government's proposal to introduce road pricing
will mean YOU having to purchase a tracking device for your car and paying a
monthly bill to use it. The tracking device will cost about £200 and in a
recent study by the BBC, the lowest monthly bill was £28 for a rural florist and
£194 for a delivery driver. A non-working Mum who used the car to take the kids
to school paid £86 in one month.
On top of this massive increase in tax, you will be tracked. Somebody will know
where you are at all times. They will also know how fast you have been
going, so even if you accidentally creep over a speed limit in time
you can probably expect a Notice of Intended Prosecution with your monthly
bill. It has also been estimated that implementing this technology will
cost the taxpayer £60 Billion in total. Just think how that could improve the
existing road network or public transport - and don’t even get me started on
giving it to the NHS! The idea of tracking every vehicle at all
times is sinister and wrong whilst road pricing is already here with the very
high level of UK government taxation on fuel. The more you travel - the more tax
Road charging will be an unfair tax on those who live apart from
their families, who commute distances to work and indeed senior citizens and
low income families who will not be able to afford the high monthly costs.If
you care about our freedom and stopping the constant bashing of the
car driver, please sign the petition on Downing Street's new
'democracy at work' website and pass this on to as many people as possible
NB: Ex-pats can also sign this petition - as I seem to know a worryingly increasing amount of you!!! Perhaps you all saw this coming!!
Friday, 12 January 2007
So if you're reading this, or any other portion of my humble blog for that matter, but have been secretive about it, now's your opportunity to come clean; I don't bite, honest!!
Husband, Mum, Dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, friends and fellow-bloggers, you all have a right to say something, anything, it's FINE, that's what you're supposed to do...
I love you all by the way.
Ps: am having trouble with my links, or rather: am useless with computers. Can anyone help?? How do I get a link to come up in the post body instead of the title??? I thought I had it sussed, but i have to confess that the internet has had the better of me, this time at least - but I am NOT defeated, I will battle on!
Anyway, as always, click on the title for the link, until further notice, lol -
Pps: ...and Debs, thank you for bringing 'lurkers' to my attention in the first place!! Hope you don't mind the link :o)
Thursday, 11 January 2007
Only the other day I found a CD that I hadn't managed to listen to since Claire had died, as it was by an artist who had been our 'teenage idol', and had listened to time after time, and whose songs we knew off by heart. So I thought: "I need to know how it would feel to listen one more time; if I don't then I might as well just bin the thing"...and I promptly (and bravely - lol) decided to give it a go.
Everything was going fine until the third track started playing, and I slowly started to feel a wave of pain washing over me, and tears pouring down my face uncontrollably. Boy it hurt!!
Until that day, I was really convinced I was as 'over' it as I was ever going to be...but I have now learnt my lesson: grief can subtly come at any time, and kidnap your emotions for as long as it sees fit - and actually, I'm quite grateful that it does!
I had not cried like that for a very, very long time, and it was a hugely cleansing, helpful thing.
And I understand what people mean when they talk about 'the gift of tears'.
I suspect there are lots more to come, and I'd like to think I will welcome them, instead of trying to fight them...
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
6 years ago to the day, my beautiful sister Claire died.
It was a Tuesday, same as today. I'll never forget the phone call, I can remember every single word Mum spoke and my choking responses to something that, in an instant, had changed our lives forever... My world stopped, froze, the disbelief that I could lose someone so close, so soon, too suffocating for words.
Coming off the phone, I buried my face in my 3-month-old baby's neck and sobbed. I was completely overwhelmed by the feeling that I would never be able to get over this, that I 'couldn't do this', going through the agony of grieving for a sibling and close friend who was never supposed to die so young..."I'm not strong enough for this Lord!", I cried to Him.
Now, can I pause for a couple of minutes?
Before I go on, I would love to try and describe this most extraordinarily special human-being, who happened to be my sister.
Claire was a generous, vibrant, hilarious 24 year-old who lived life at 200mph. In the last 5 years of her life, she did more travelling than many people would do in a lifetime, studied at 4 different universities in 3 different countries, and had hundreds of friends and acquaintances from all around the world...
She was small but by no means petite, and had a 'larger-than-life' personality as well as an infectious love of life in all its fullness.
She was a deeply mature and spiritual woman, a truth-seeker, and a lover of God, on a journey to discover more of His ways and His goodness; she had an openness of mind that was quite often uncomfortable, and at the very least, rather challenging and humbling!
She had in fact just finished the first term of a degree at Durham university which would have led her into ministry in the Church of England; she had incidentally also met the love of her life and was, we think, secretly engaged to him...She was blissfully happy and fulfilled in her life, although not always contented, or satisfied with 'sitting still'!
And so in many ways, Claire's life was fuller, richer, more fascinating, more fun and more exciting than the lives of any other 24-yr-old I've ever known.
I hope this gives a little insight into my sister's personality and soul; there's SO much more I'd like to say, and that I could say, but won't because I don't have the energy or the courage to dig too much deeper, and also because I can't gauge how much of it would actually be of interest or benefit to anyone but me.
So. Where was I?
"I'm not strong enough...!" - or am I??
The thing is, God, in His wisdom, knew that it was time for Claire to come home. Her work on earth was 'done', and He wanted her back...Even from the very first minutes and hours of grief, we as a family knew God's love, peace and purpose for us and in a strange way knew that it was part of His plan that Claire should leave us when she did. That certainty has never left me; and to this day I am convinced that the turmoil and suffering that I, and my parents and my three brothers went through has contributed to the transformation of relationships and hearts, to immense (and accelerated) growth, and, for me at least, to closer intimacy with my Heavenly Father.
I really believe in God's timing in our lives. He has ultimate control of when life begins and when it ends. He IS, in fact, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. The question is, am I prepared to surrender every waking hour to his control, to His plans for my life, and what am I doing in order to not waste any of the time that He has in His book for me??
I learnt a lot from Claire. For example, procrastination is really unhelpful and ungodly, and life is to be LIVED, now, to the full and to God's glory and to serve others...
I have also learnt that it's no use making too many plans, too early in advance. God has so much in store for me that I will not see until it's 'there'! His ways are not my ways and far be it from me to try and fathom His understanding.
Saturday, 6 January 2007
This is well and truly a miracle - or maybe it's just progress?? But I have too much faith that God really has His hand on my children's lives to only put it down to natural - albeit delayed - development. There are many people praying for Thomas all the time, and I really believe this 'little' step is of Him.