Friday, 31 May 2013

18 years and counting {my courtship story....}

Today marks a special day on my life's calendar.  It's the 31st of May, in case you hadn't taken note.

On the 31st of May, 1995, my relationship with Robert began.

Officially, that is.

The story begins properly a little less than 2 years before, when I met Robert for the first time.  The meeting was brief, and I was only 15.  The next year, at the same Holiday Bible Conference, I was sitting in the dining room, on the first evening, with my friend.  We had all started dinner, and we were facing the door that brought people into the dining room.  We had been, shall we say, PERUSING the male attendants as they entered the doors.  And, when Robert eyes were drawn to this handsome young man, with the glinting blue eyes.  I spoke to him after the meal, convinced that he had been responsible for some pranks in my room the year before.  He gave me the big, innocent eyes look, and claimed it wasn't him.  Obviously, I believed him - with his lovely eyes, how could I not?!? (he still claims innocence, by the way....)

That evening, after the service, we happened to "bump into" Robert and his brother, Edward.  We got talking, and talking, and talking.  We found out we had a lot of common interests, and chatted into the wee small hours.  We spent a lot of free time together, and I was also given the job of making sure they got up for the prayer meeting before 7.30am every morning.  After late nights of the young people chatting, Robert and Edward didn't "do" mornings.  A lot of knocking on the door was required to waken those lads up!! By the end of the week I was realising I wanted to get to know this young man better - he loved the Lord, and we had a lot in common.  We had even talked about marriage and children, in a very general sense, in our conversations.  We were like-minded in so many ways.  The thing is, he wasn't very forward.  And I was.  I waited and waited for him to suggest exchanging addresses and keeping in touch, but it wasn't happening.  In the end, I did the very "non-ladylike" thing, and gave my friend my address to pass onto him.  I figured that if he was interested in keeping in touch, I had left the "ball in his court" for him to pursue me!

You see, what I haven't told you is this - I lived in Scotland, and he lived over 400 miles away, in South east England!!! this was in the days of snail mail.  No internet.  No IM.  No Skype.  No mobile phones for every teenager.  we didn't even use the phone a lot!!! Different times, my friends...different times!

So, we all left the conference on the Friday.  Robert went back home, and I went with my friend to visit her brother and sister-in-law in Worcestershire. I spent the whole time wondering if I would hear from him.  My memory is a little sketchy on the next detail.  I can't remember quite when I got *THE* letter from Robert.  It may have been waiting for me when I got back, but it was certainly very quick!! I was sooo relieved. I had got a bit anxious that the interest in getting to know one another better may have been one-sided.  It wasn't!

From then ensued our "writing courtship". We wrote to each other at least once a week - and we're talking 4-6 sides of A4! Robert always sent in a blue envelope, and I would eagerly await the arrival of that letter, with his distinct, neat hand-writing. The letters began quite newsy, with a tame "from Robert", or "from Caroline" at the end. As we got to know each other better, and started to feel a little more, they would get more and more "lovey"!   They ended up being these long, adjective/adverb-laden endings, that expressed our deepening feelings for each other.

The postman had got used to me accosting him, on my way to the train station in the mornings to get to school, asking if he had a letter for me!! He used to smile, and have it ready, if there was one for me!

Then, Valentine's day started to loom.  I toyed with the whole "should I send a card, or shouldn't I".  In the end, I did.  Soon after, however, the letters from Robert stopped.  I wondered if my endings had contained too many adjective,s or had the Valentine's card scared him off.  maybe he was more of a friend who was a boy?!?  Had I got it so wrong?

Fast forward quite a few weeks, when a PINK envelope arrived.  The handwriting appeared to be Robert's, but it seemed he had switched envelope colours. I was over-analysing the change, before I had even taken the letter to my room, to open it and get excited over every word I would read, in the privacy of my own room!!  To my surprise, the letter opened with not only the address in the header, but a PHONE NUMBER!  I had been putting my number in my letters for a while, but had waited in vain for a phone call! NOW I HAD HIS!!!  Furthermore, as I read, the letter was NOT from Robert, but from his MUM!!!  There writing is nearly identical, because Robert's used to be so messy that his MUM taught him to write neatly, and their writing is, even now, VERY similar!  She explained that Robert had tripped up and broken his scaphoid, and his arm was in plaster and he could not write!! He was desperate for me to know, in case I thought he had abandoned our friendship! As if I had worried such a thing..... *aherm*  He had also had shingles, and had generally been having a rough time of it.

I was thrilled to hear all was well.

I was MORE thrilled that I now had his PHONE number!!!

I'm now going to do something TERRIBLE....

I am going to tell you that I need to come back to this story.  I wanted to publish it today, on our 18 year anniversary, but you're going to have to wait until another day to hear the ending!!  It's evening here, and I have some jobs I MUST do before bed, so the end is yet to come!

To be continued.......

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Chatting with Patrice

Everyday Ruralty

Good morning to you Patrice! It's a cold, damp, grey morning here.  Pretty much as it has been on a regular basis over here in the UK.  I mean, I know we get a reputation for grey weather, but it SERIOUSLY is not normally like this in May, nearly June. I am ready for some regular sunshine, like, YESTERDAY! lol I don't like it too hot, but some warm sun, with a gentle breeze, would suit me down to the ground.  

So, as I wait for some sun, I will chat with you, and IMAGINE the warmth on your farmhouse porch.  Wendell's chomping aside.....

1.  When you were a child, what age did you think was "old"?

Now, this is a funny question, because I was talking about it quite recently.  When I was young, I thought people who had been married for more than 10 years, or had a child that was over 10 years old, was OLD!!!  Well, that makes me "old" on both counts, now. *great* 

2.  How often do you have dessert?

Not very often.  I only make dessert when we are having guests. So, it's more often than not on a Sunday, and the odd times in between.  I tend to make the same things over and over - old favourites are pavlova, lemon meringue pie, raspberry shortbread pie, trifle, sticky toffee pudding and sachertorte.  Not all at once, I hasten to add.  I like them all, funnily enough, or I guess I wouldn't make them? 

3.  What's your favourite kind of exercise?

I have a DVD by Davina Macall.  It's very good. I haven't done it since before I found out as I was pregnant, because as soon as I know I am pregnant, I feel nauseous. Nausea + exercise = don't go together.  Of course, now I am resting, so the most exercise I am getting involves typing....or walking to the kitchen....or going upstairs to bed. 

I also like pilates. It is so gentle, but it does a GREAT job of toning up your muscles. 

4.  Do you watch movies on TV, movies from a rental or the library, or movies online?

We don't have a TV license. So, we don't watch any TV, other than on the catch-up players.  Years ago, in the days of videos, we used to rent movies more. We have, the odd time, downloaded movies from itunes.  We also have a Netflix membership we are trying out, but have not got round to watching movies on it.  Generally, we buy a movie if we really like the look of it, but it isn't very often, and it's usually biggies like LOTR.

5.  Tell me something you remember about your grand mother's/grand father's house? I'm thinking of something you saw all of the time, like a picture, clock, statue, teapot. or some thing that was always there.

It's funny the memories we have of grandparents.  

My Grandma, my Mum's Mum, I remember her sapphire necklace.  She used to wear it a LOT, and I remember playing with, sitting on her knee.  Visiting her house, I remember a particular smell.  It was just *her* smell - not a bad smell.  We used to have tea there sometimes - it was always tinned ham, potato croquettes and tinned peas.  But, we LOVED it, because it was something we never ate at home!  She had a stuffed teddy - one of the old-fashioned type, that was really hard.  We always played dominoes at her house.  She kept them in one of those traditional wooden boxes.  

My Grandparents on my Dad's side were from Northern Ireland.  Visiting them was always a big adventure, because it involved a boat trip.  I can't remember a lot about their older house, except that they lived on a busy road, and I remember how noisy it was at night time. They then moved to a more rural location.  They always had little nick-nacks that we had given them over the years, on their fireplace. They always bought "soda" from the "soda van".  Fizzy drinks in bottles, in all sorts of flavours that you couldn't get in the shops - limeade and dandelion and burdock being two I particularly remember. It was such a novelty to see the men come round in their van.  My Grandpa always enjoyed his gardening and his houseplants - so, the houseplants are something I remember about him.  He passed away just a few weeks ago.  I want to write about him, but am still trying to hunt down a picture of him.  I have a lot of happy memories of my Grandpa. He is missed, but what a joy to know he is with the Lord.

There we have it, Patrice.  A wee yarn on the farmhouse porch, to cheer my dreech day. 

Hope to chat again soon - and, oh so relieved that you and your chats are not going anywhere. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How does your garden grow? {cultivating your marriage}

I was back out in my garden recently- my first days of planning, buying  and planting for this summer.  I remembered, once again, as I walked around the garden centre, looking at the beautiful flowers and plants, how much I *love* my garden.

When I got back to my garden, though, I realised it was not quite "ready" for planting.  You see, over the winter, the cold spring, and my early pregnancy, I hadn't taken care of it as I should have done.   There were weeds, the ground was hard, and it simply wasn't ready for planting.  There were plants that I needed to trim back, and there were others that I just didn't know what had happened to them at all.  Bulbs that had come up with no flowers.  Others that I was sure I had seen appearing this time last year, but there was no sign of them at all.

I got to to doing some research.  At the garden centre, I asked an expert about those plants that needed trimming.  She gave me the advice I needed, and I got it done.

With a hard trim back, getting rid of the dead and straggly plant, new growth would come up.

The "blind" bulbs, with no flowers, had been planted at the wrong depth, or needed some food  So, replanting and feeding them next year should do the job.

The children helped me sort out the weeds, before they got any bigger, and loosened the soil ready for planting.

Dead leaves were removed, to clear the ground.

Plants that had not survived the winter were completely removed, making make for something new.

It was quite an effort to nurture everything back to the way it should be.  I realised afresh that it is not a simple thing to have a garden.  If I want things to flourish and grow, I need to look after them.  The plants need the room to grow.  I need to know how each one thrives and flourishes, and make sure I add the right things to the soil to help.  I need to make sure that I move plants to a position where they will grow better.

So much "tending".

How like our marriages this is!

If we just plant the good things that early marriage brings, and leave them alone, our marriage will not thrive and grow.  "Weeds" will come in, that need to be pulled out - insubmissive attitudes, lack of communication, words spoken in haste, neglect of the marriage bed, complacency. Advice from ungodly sources, or ungodly friends, or even those Christian friends who follow worldly ways, are "weeds" that will choke a healthy marriage.  All these "weeds" need to be pulled out, before they take root and choke our marriage.

We need to water and feed our marriage - with prayer and studying of God's Word.  Do we search the scriptures to see what God teaches about marriage - about love - about relationships? Do we care enough to WANT to grow and change?  Do we desire to strengthen our prayer life, and do we seek to pray earnestly about our marriages - seeking to hedge them about, and protect them in prayer, from the devil - who wants to destroy our marriages?

We can read books, or listen to sermons, which will nourish and encourage growth.

Is there enough light reaching our marriages, for growth to occur?  Is the light of God's Word shining upon us, and governing our lives, above the shade that the world, and its false advice, will bring to our marriages?

Sometimes, in our marriages, we find that ways of doing things no longer work for us.  Like the dead plants I pulled out, we need to just get rid of these things, if they are hindering growth, spiritually or emotionally. What works for us now, to make things grow and flourish, may not be what was good at the beginning.  We are pretty likely to make even more changes, as our marriage matures.

As with my garden, sometimes in our marriages we need to plant new things!  Ideas, attitudes or routines may need to be put in place, that we have never thought of before. A garden can become a bit boring if no changes are ever made - you would take the beauty a little for granted.  Injecting new things most usually brightens things up and improves the look of the place.  Same with our marriages - sometimes we need to either look at things in a new light, or do things in a totally new way, in order for improvement to come.

What about all those children's toys and flotsam and jetsam that migrates to the garden?  It looks a bit of a mess if all these things take over - balls kicking flower heads off (trust me, that's a pain to my very heart right now... my long-awaited alliums, having a head knocked off - only one bloom per plant, and now one is  gone..... *chuckles through gritted teeth* ), flowers trampled on and picked off, toys strewn everywhere.  It always makes me sigh with contentment when they are all picked up, and everything looks "rosy" again. Our marriages are the same.  The moment that the children take priority, our marriage will come to harm.  Our children are a BLESSING, but our marriage should never take second, or even third (or worse) place in our lives.  Neglecting our marriage, in favour of giving the children more attention, will not only harm our marriage, but in the long run it will harm the children.  If our marriages are weak and failing, it will have a knock on effect on our children.

One thing is for very sure.  If you don't even care about your garden at ALL,  it will quickly become a complete mess - ugly, overrun by weeds and hardly a "garden" at all - more like a rubbish heap.  We want our marriages to be alive!  To be filled with beauty, even if it is only God,   and *us* that see the beauty in it (you know, like those weird, modern art gardens, that only the people who plant them seem to appreciate! *giggles* ), that is what matters most.

So, how does YOUR garden grow? Let's all go and tend our marriages, so they are filled with beauty, and get pulling those "weeds" up!

( this is NOT my garden.... although I love allium! )

Monday, 27 May 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday {just a little maid}

I find this little girl a true inspiration.

A little girl, snatched from her family, and taken away to become a maid in a household far, far away.

Just a little girl, but one who loved the Lord enough to speak up for Him, RIGHT WHERE SHE WAS.

An account that challenges us to being salt and light, in the little corner where God has placed us.

Just to set the scene, we are in the home of a very important military leader - Naaman.  He was a man of high standing - well respected, and good at his job. He was a Syrian.  Not an Israelite.  Yet, we read that God had prospered him.   He probably had no idea that it was GOD who had given him victory, but in His sovereignty, He had.

"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour..."
II Kings 5:1

The words that then follow are what I call "a big but".  You know those "buts"?  When someone tells you something great about someone or something, but then they say "but"....and something not so good comes next?

"but he was a leper"

That terrible disease that brought devastation to the person, and to the family, of one who had it.  Ostracised, separated from society, cast away to a life of loneliness, with only the company of other lepers to cheer your day. 

In the midst of this tragic discovery, however, this faithful little girl - personal maid to Naaman's wife - spoke up of the power of God, that could be found through the prophet Elisha, to her mistress.   

I am quite sure, that a little girl, who was a captive from a foreign land, was probably not of very high standing or sought out for wise counsel by her master and mistress.  The confidence that she had in God, however, was so strong, that she spoke up for the sake of hope for her master. 

Having been snatched away from her home, and those she loved so much, she could easily have been bitter and said not a single word about a potential source of healing for Naaman.  Such was her faith and love, that she could do nothing but speak up. 

We know how the account continues - The King of Syria going to the wrong source, being sent to Elisha instead, of Naaman being told he must visit in person, and of his pride and eventual resignation to doing as he was instructed - then, the complete healing that followed.  In itself, this amazing story has so much to teach us, but that's not what is speaking to my heart today.

My thoughts are two-fold.

Firstly, how could this little girl have such confidence in speaking forth like this?

There can only be one answer.  Her parents had brought her up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.  They had demonstrated to her, by a life of faith and devotion to God, that He alone is the answer to our problems and dilemmas.  They had most likely seen God at work in many ways through their own lives - living through the times of Elijah and Elisha, and learning of God's power and ability to heal.  Perhaps they had even heard of the healing of the Shunamite boy? All that they had learnt, they must have taught to their little girl, in such a clear way that she had it in her heart, as a living faith.  A living faith that she wanted to share with Naaman. 

I read of this little girl, and wonder how my children would fare in a similar situation.  Would the faith that I have demonstrated and shared in my own life, influence my children enough to have them share it with others when they were away from home?  Have I taught them from scriptures faithfully enough for them to have a knowledge of God's power and goodness - His ability to do great things for those who put their faith and trust in Him alone?  Am I being a faithful teacher?  Sharing the truths of God's Word to my children EVERY day - not only through the scriptures, but through my life, and how I live?

The second thing that challenged me, was to do with my own life and witness.  Do I willingly share the gospel, as this little girl did?  She shared that only God can cleanse, and that is the same message we should be sharing.  Leprosy, as I am sure you already know, is a Biblical picture of sin.  It's grip and power over a person - the inability to make yourself better - how it spreads so easily - how it separates us from those who are not unclean.  If we equate leprosy with those who are sinners, needing salvation, then we need to tell them that THEY can be "cured" from their "disease".  We have the cure to their disease, and yet do we share it as much as we should?  If we had the cure to cancer, we would be shouting from the rooftops and sharing it with all those who needed it.

We HAVE the cure to sin - we have the Holy Spirit in our lives because we have already been cleansed from sin.  We need to tell others that they, too, can be saved from sin and its consequences.  Think of all those that we know who are living in sin, and if they died today they would be eternally lost!

I'm not saying we should all be standing on the street corner, preaching to all who walk by.  Like the little maid, sharing our faith should simply be part of our life.  A natural thing to do.  A living faith, that is evidenced by how we live, to those around us.  Like the maiden, we need to start RIGHT where we are.  We are not all called to be missionaries, or to be the wife of a Pastor, or a Sunday school teacher.  But, we all have people right in our little "corner", that we need to share the gospel with.

Our children.

Our wider family.

Our friends.

Our neighbours.

Do some of these people even KNOW that we are saved?  I would hope our family do, but do we diligently teach them about their need of salvation?

What about our wider family and friends.  Do we live a life that demonstrates the saving faith in our lives?  Are we a good witness and testimony in an everyday sense?

Do our neighbours see us faithfully going to the Lord's house, week by week?  Do we take every opportunity that God gives us to speak of God and His goodness in our lives?

Oh, how my own heart is pricked!  How often I do NOT take the opportunities that come my way.

So few words are even mentioned about this little girl, and yet so deeply my heart has been challenged - as God's child, and as a mother.

Faithfulness.  That's the lesson I need to learn from this young girl.  Faithfulness in sharing the gospel - faithfulness in raising my children for the Lord.

May God grant us the boldness in our lives to share His goodness with those He has placed us among.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Responding to "tornadoes" {when problems touch down in our life}

I feel like I am reliving the same emotions and heartache from 2 years ago.  I remember well when the bad tornadoes hit Arkansas, and even people who I had come to "know" online were severely affected.

I knew these storms were coming, as I have online friends in OK. They had been preparing for the storms - getting in supplies, making sure torches (flashlights) were working, and making sure they had somewhere to take shelter.

 But, to waken up this morning and hear about, and see, the devastation, is just awful.  A school  - children the same age as our Daniel - destroyed, and many lives lost. Homes torn apart, belongings strewn far and wide.  Cars turned upside-down.  Trees stripped of all their greenery. It is simply awful.

I sit here, in the UK, so very thankful that our weather is so temperate, relative to so many other parts of the world - no strange excesses of heat or cold, wind or hail.  I know we complain about too much rain, or not enough sun.  What is that compared to the awful consequences of living somewhere where the effects of tornadoes are felt?

I feel quite "safe".

Far removed from the horrors of "Tornado Alley".

But, as I sat here thinking about it, not living in an area affected by adverse weather does NOT remove me from the path of other "storms".  "Storms" can come in many forms, and affect our lives in many ways, equally as "destructive".

Family struggles - rebellious children, rocky marriages, rifts with relatives
Personal struggles - emotional hardships, battling with sin, parenting trials, feelings of loneliness, fear or despair.

Financial failures.

Poor health.

Death of loved ones.

The list is endless - the "storms" each of us face, as individual as the person facing it.   The effects equally as devastating as the loss of property faced by many Americans this morning.  A life lost by a storm is no less devastating than a life lost before birth, or through an accident or illness, anywhere else in the world. Any of these things can happen to any of us, at any time - without even a warning that they get before a tornado.

How we respond to these storms should be the same, no matter the nature of it.  Literal, or figurative.

The Bible tells us about storms.  Our minds would quickly jump to the disciples in that little ship, on a stormy sea.

The fear.

The anguish.

The feeling that they would perish.

The doubt.  "Master, carest thou not that we perish?".

But, our minds then jump to the resolution.  A caring, wonderful Friend, who stilled the storms, and stilled the hearts of those He cared so much about.

The winds and waves rebuked.  The storm calmed.

The faithless hearts of the disciples rebuked.  Their hearts challenged.

We need faith in the storm.  Faith to remember that God is STILL in control, even when the storm is raging.  Peace in the storm - remembering that God has us in his hands, and we ARE safe.

When the literal storms are coming, people are urged to take shelter.  Somewhere they are protected from the winds that will sweep across the landscape.  Many are blessed with basements - hidden in the heart of the earth, whilst the tornado rips over the top.  Safe in the hollowed out earth.

Amidst the storms that we face, we have a shelter.

"Thou hast been a shelter for me"
Psalm 61:3

We have a refuge from storms and trials.
"a refuge in time of trouble"
Psalm 9:9

We have a place we can go and hide, when troubles surround us.

"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance."

Psalm 32:7

I read a great little saying, in a novel about the Amish.  I don't know where it comes from, but the wisdom is plain.

Courage is fear on its knees.

We can take courage when we are fearful, by going down on our knees in prayer, and completely relying and fully trusting in God and His perfect ways.  On our knees, we are right in that secret place - closed in with the Saviour, with our Heavenly Father.

In Colossians 3 verse 3 we are reminded that "we are dead".  Dead to things of this earth. That our affection should be set on things above, not on things of this earth.  If we are dead to these things, then

"your life is hid with Christ in God."

Our whole life is hidden, safely, with Christ, IN GOD!  What safer place could we possibly be?

No matter how the storms are raging around us - what losses we experience - what trials, temptations and torments - we are hidden, safely, with Christ, in God.

Do you have your own, personal tornado looming on the horizon?  Maybe, it's already hit, and you are "pushing up the hatch door" to survey the damage? Maybe you are trying to clear up the mess it has left behind?

No matter your circumstances, you can hide in Christ.  You take refuge in the one who holds all things in HIS hand.  The one who calmed the storm for the disciples, and breathed hope and peace into their hearts, will do the very same thing for you and I.

1 Rejoice, believer, in the Lord,
who makes your cause his own;
the hope that's built upon his work
shall ne'er be overthrown.
2 Though many foes beset your road,
and feeble is your arm,
your life is hid with Christ in God
beyond the reach of harm.
3 Weak as you are, you shall not faint
or fainting, shall not die,
Jesus, the strength of ev'ry saint,
will aid you from on high.
4 Thou unperceived by mortal sense,
faith sees him always near,
a guide, a glory, a defense;
then what have you to fear?
5 As surely as he overcame
and triumphed once for you,
so surely you that love his name
shall in him triumph too.
John Newton

Friday, 17 May 2013

When resting is not easy {a pregnancy update}

Well, I thought you needed to hear an update. So, here goes.

Last week, I started bleeding again.  Nothing like the first time, but every morning, more than "spotting", and every day since.  My MW was on holiday (vacation) last week, so I waited until she came back, before investigating the whys and wherefores.

I spoke to her on Tuesday morning, and I quickly got an appointment to go to the Early Pregnancy Unit on Wednesday afternoon.

Off I trotted, hoping for some answers.

The asked me about what had been happening, acknowledged my bleeding was more than just a little (I came armed with a picture on my phone....the things women do!!), and said they would scan me.

Once again, our little bay was active and heart beating as it should be. The doctor looked for any "abnormalities", but couldn't see anything.  They realised there SHOULD be something, based on my symptoms, so they called in the sonographer. GOOD move. She very quickly identified that the membranes were not attached at the bottom of the uterus, right above the cervix, and there was blood sitting behind them.  Hence, my bleeding.

She explained that they sometimes do not attach until around 16-18 weeks.  I am only just about 16 weeks, so it is possible that they will still attach. The sonographer wants me in next week to monitor it, and make sure it's doing what it should.

It explains the bleeding, and confirmed to me that I had been doing the right thing to rest.  I have discovered that if I do anything more than rest and stand up a little, the bleeding gets worse.  So, needless to say, more resting is what I am doing.

Interestingly, it's not a common problem.  My MW had never even had anyone with the same thing!! I told her the words I had found that were getting me answers on google - an unfused amnion. The thing is, googling is not always a good idea.  I read all the possible outcomes, and that may not be a good idea!

The thing is, not matter what God still has in store for me, and this precious babe, it is ALL IN HIS PLAN.  I am resting in that completely, and despite some of the bad "stories" I read - ranging from chromosomal disorders to premature labour - there were "good stories" too.

With God, we have no "bad" stories.  Why not?  Simply because GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD!!  How can I say that His perfect will is anything but good??  If He, my perfect, almighty, sovereign, Heavenly Father, has ordained this to be my path - whatever the outcome - it IS good.

I can honestly say He is meeting my needs.

I can also honestly say, that this is HARD.  Resting....HARD.

When one is used to being in control of the wonderful dominion that God has given me charge of, and then I suddenly have to SIT, and delegate and adapt, it's HARD!!!

Telling children to do something for you, i have discovered, takes WAY longer than if you do it yourself...

Telling a child to pass on a message to a sibling, seems not to carry the clout as me delivering it myself. ..

Sitting and thinking through what must be done, and what can be left, is not as easy as it sounds.  It's hard to leave things undone.

Mess can wait.

It's a lesson I am fast learning.

There is also great merit in resting.  Time to think and pray more for others.  Time to plan school.  Time to sit and read with the children, in order for them to learn, rather than them working alone.  Time to teach them more about character, and love, and kindness, and diligence, and tidiness.

Lessons are being learnt all around, and IN me. Acceptance.  Trust.  Faith.  HOPE.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Absolute sway {giving everything up to God)

I've had another challenging week.

I had been resting last week, after the bleed, as per Robert's instructions.  He would call me every now and again, and ask if I had my feet up.

That was a struggle, when I am used to a busy life.

Then, this week I attempted a little more.  Everything had been settled for more than a week, so i went shopping on Monday.  Then, on Tuesday we went to the garden centre, and then I did a little planting - only very easy planting, and I left the harder stuff to the boys.

Then, on Wednesday morning the bleeding was back.  NOTHING like before, but just present, and obvious, all day.  And yesterday.  I thought it had eased by the end of yesterday, and this morning... back again.

I still don't know what is happening, or why.

I hate not knowing.  I hate not being able to control what's going on.

I had a heart to heart with Robert this morning.   We talked about how I need to trust God.  I *DO* trust God.  I told him, I trust God completely - I know that whatever the outcome for this baby, it will be perfect, and in His plan.

Then, why was I still struggling?  Why did I get so upset?  Why was I finding this so hard?

I know that us women folk deal with things differently.  We are created differently from men.  That's normal.

From the ladies I have talked to, I know I am not alone.

But, I realised Robert was right.

If I still cannot leave the "not knowing" to the Lord, then I am still not trusting Him completely.   In order to fully trust, then I cannot hold onto any desire to be in control myself.

Yes, I still would like to know what is happening.

Do I need to be anxious about not knowing, though?  Let it bother me?  Have it on my mind so much?


I don't.

I need to take it to the Lord and LEAVE IT THERE.

I KNOW that whatever it is that is causing this, cannot be treated or changed.  About the only thing they could tell me, is to rest.  I am doing that already.

I also know that we could learn that the baby has already passed away, and we are simply waiting for  a miscarriage.  My hope still tells me that is not the case.  However, if it was, I still couldn't change anything by knowing sooner.

My midwife is on holiday this week.  She will know what's happening next week.  I am pretty sure she will get in touch, and if not, I see her routinely on Thursday.

In the mean time, I need to FULLY TRUST.  For the sake of my peace of mind, I need to not analyse every change.  Monitor and mull over it.

Instead, I need to make the best of every moment I am resting.  Put it to good use.  Plan.  Prioritise.  Read to my children.  Write my recipes in my new binder.  Read.  PRAY.

God is giving me this season for a purpose.

"All things work together for good"

"but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

"the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."
Psalm 37:24  

That last verse really has spoken to me.  My steps - all that I go through - has been ORDERED by God.  He has allowed it - set it out before me.  It's HIS plan,  His PERFECT plan, that has me going through this trial. How have I to walk in these steps?  I have to DELIGHT in them.

I can tell you now, that this morning I fell.  Big time.  I was an emotional wreck, and once the tears start in a hormonal woman, it's hard to turn that tap off.  I was exhausted  and struggling to accept that I have no idea what's going on.


And, He upholds me with His hand. I am NOT utterly cast down, because God always has me right in His hands.  I need to just rest in that place of safety and comfort.

Knowing what's happening will only make me "feel better" humanly.  I need to feel well SPIRITUALLY, and the only way I can do that, is to surrender this WHOLE thing to the Lord.  The what, when AND why.

He has this.  I don't need to have ownership or control of any of it.  I need to content in the knowledge that God knew this would happen, and I WILL get through it.  Clinging to Him.  Moment by moment.  Not needing to know what may, or may not happen, beyond today. Enjoy the knowledge that, as far as I know, a little babe continues to grow inside of me, "fearfully and wonderfully made".  To appreciate the rest that God has gifted me with.  To be thankful for the wonderfully helpful, and kind, and loving husband and children. That I don't have to worry about school runs! *giggles*   There is so much still to be thankful for, even in the midst of my own personal trials.

Even in all of this, I can remember there are those struggling and hurting WAY more than me.

This hymn came to my mind today.  I need the Lord to have HIS own way, and I need to give myself over to him, so that He only has absolute sway over everything.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

I am learning.  I am not always a fast learner, and this one is both a steep curve and a hard lesson.  But, by God's grace, I am learning.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A quick chat on a sunny porch

Everyday Ruralty
Well, I know it's Friday, and everyone else has been chatting for days.  Better late than never, right?  

So, it's a sunshiny chat again, here.  I do love the sunshine.  It makes me happy. 

  1. When it's time to cut the grass (mow the lawn), who does it?
Invariably it is Robert.  It's just one of "his" things to do.  I have never done it in the new house at all.  I LOVE the smell of newly cut grass.  It's one of those "remember the days when I was young and had no cares in the world but to have fun in the summer" kind of throw backs.  It just smells yummy.  Not that I want to eat it, obviously.  My healthy eating hasn't gone THAT far.

Oh, and I'm loving that you have put in the British phrase, too.  See, multi-lingual you are, Patrice! 

   2.    If someone gave you $500 dollars and you could not spend it on yourself, who would you spend it on?

Well now, you didn't really need to add the "not spend on yourself" part, as I don't do that very often.  At the moment, I need to get the children new summer shoes - the weather is now warming up enough to cast off the winter boots and don the summery footwear.  6 children in shoes = an expensive trip.  You're talking over £100 just on that.  Then there's the new summer clothes for the older ones, and usually t-shirts need to be replaced, too.  The older ones (especially the boys) seem incapable of managing to pass much on these days - everything gets worn right up.  And let's not talk about trying to get the girls skirts that are decent. *rolls eyes*  So, shoes and clothes for the children.  

Beyond that initial thought, I guess I would give it to someone who had a need.   Someone who was struggling financially and needed some help.  Someone with an unexpected bill and not sure where they are going to get the money to pay for it.  A missionary or a missionary society.  

It's almost too broad a question!   I could get sidetracked in the world of upcoming birthday's or taking friends out to dinner.  But, that would be spending it on myself, because I would want to be with them for dinner! 

Oh, and I would love $500 - but from what I just described to you I would not have much left over - it's only the equivalent of about £322!   Now, what YOU all could do with £500?!  

3.   Have you ever taken a blogging break or considered one?

I have a bit of a "break" in early and late pregnancy, and after I have a baby.  So, since starting the blog, nearly 2 years ago, I have had a few kind of "breaks".  I think because the blog is an extension of my spiritual life, and something I see as a ministry, I wouldn't take a formal break unless it was affecting my personal life. So, I have never considered it, officially, but would if it was needed.  I would miss it. 

4.    Are you bothered by spring allergies or hay fever? If not spring, any other time of the year?

Thankfully, no.   Although, interestingly, I have had 2 terrible sneezing fits in the last couple of weeks.  My Mum has terrible sneezing fits, and it was discovered she has an allergy to oranges.  Guess when she always had the sneezing fits.  Yup, after her toast and MARMALADE every morning!  It doesn't make her ill, just makes her sneeze.  I haven't worked out if my sneezing fits were attached to some exposure of some sort.  If it happens again, I'll take note and follow it better.   

I'm so glad I am not bothered by hay fever or the like - I know it can be torturous. 

5.   What's new with you?

Well, I think I had that covered in my last few posts since last Thursday!   New baby on the way, and all the roller coaster that is bringing.

I think I MAY be feeling somewhat better.  The nausea is definitely not so bad, and some of my daytime energy is returning.  Don't ask me to do much in the evenings.  They are still my tough time, with tiredness and nausea still featuring quite heavily.  At least it's not all day any more, which is a blessing. 

What ELSE is new, is that we have had sunny skies for THREE days in a row!!!!! Yes, THREE!  And finally, the children are well enough to go out and enjoy it! YAY! I think we are due for some cloud over the weekend, but the temperatures are to stay up nearer to the high teens (that's celsius, folks....), which is still a vast improvement.  I don't mind the winter, really.  But, I LOVE the spring.  Sunny skies, breeze blowing, warm air - it all equals happiness and a lighter feeling inside.  

So, there we have it.    A quick chat on a Friday afternoon. Its always nice to chat, Patrice, and if you take a blogging break I will miss it.  Which one of the linked-up ladies would carry it on!?? 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Rejoicing in hope, patient in affliction {learning through trial}

I have some quiet moments.  I don't know how long THAT will last.  So, I wanted to share with you my experience from last weekend.

I think I can safely say that at the same time it was both one of my biggest trials and my biggest blessings, all wrapped up in one experience.

It's something that is going to instantly relate to many of you. You see, last Friday I thought I was about to miscarry.  I had a heavy bleed, late in the afternoon.  When I realised what was happening my heart sank, and the tears flowed.  An overwhelming sadness filled my heart, when I thought that my little, growing baby could have died.  Sobbing, I phoned Robert and asked him to come home.  I phoned family and asked them to pray. I let my closest friends know, so they could lift me to God's throne in prayer, as well.

I had to go into hospital, as the bleeding was quite bad.  I was examined, but assured that I was not labouring, and it was a "threatened miscarriage".  In other words - "we don't know what's happening, or what will happen".  There was nobody available to scan (I suppose it's not really a very big hospital, and it was a Friday evening), so we had no visual reassurance whether all was well or not.

I can honestly say that after my initial cry, I did not cry again.  I felt an overwhelming sense of God's people praying, and of God's peace and presence.  I *KNEW* that God had this situation right in His hands.  How can I trust God to give me children, and not trust Him after conception?  I didn't feel anxious... I think there were several people feeling that way vicariously, though! If I knew in the GOOD times that I was to trust and not be afraid - to be careful for nothing - to rest quietly in Him - how much MORE did I need to NOW?!

I rested over the weekend, but do you know what my biggest struggle was?  Waiting.  Being patient.  I had not had that scan, and we had no idea if we were just waiting for me to miscarry, or if the baby was, in fact, ok.  I had to WAIT, as I had no choice.

We mother's tell our children to "wait" a lot.  They want to do things, to know things, to have answers to things, for us to do things FOR them, NOW! It's a struggle for them to wait 60 seconds, never mind any longer.  Yet, despite us constantly telling our children to "wait", are we any better at it ourselves? I would suggest not! Certainly, I am not very good at it.

God tells us, in the Psalm I shared with you a couple of months ago,

"Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:"
Psalm 37:7

I was managing the "resting" part, which was not easy, I may add.  The "waiting" part was proving difficult, as was the "patiently".  It seemed like an absolute age to wait from Friday night until Monday morning, for the scan.  To have evidence of what was happening, or not.  It seemed even longer, because I was having to wait.  I wasn't busy, doing my normal weekend jobs.  No ironing (which I am still trying to forget is sitting there....), no preparation for Sunday, no cleaning.  Just sitting.  With my feet up.  Thinking how long it was until Monday.

Do you know what I discovered, though?

Resting, and waiting, means you have more time to think, and speak to the Lord.  The clamour is forgotten, and the peace facilitates time to commune.  Even though the children were unwell, and the DVD player was in high use, I could still think on the things of the Lord, and come to Him in prayer.  A lot of other people were prayer for, and I could pray for the baby, too.

I still did not see to have the same assurance about the OUTCOME that Robert had, though.  He was SURE everything would be fine, and that I didn't need the scan.  I think many men are like that.  You know, the "''Al right" guys - not me and my "Justin case".   It may simply be that the Lord had given him the reassurance, but I wasn't getting it.  I KNEW that I would be at peace whatever the outcome, but I wasn't assured the outcome would be a perfect baby.

Monday morning came,  and I had the first morning for a while where I had no noisy children, and had the chance to read my Bible in peace.  I read first in Genesis, where my Monday mornings bring me just now.  I read about Jacob wrestling with God - a picture of us coming to God in prayer.  The blessing did not come instantly.  Jacob wrestled until he demanded a blessing.  I wasn't aware of the parallel at that point, but I continued on to read in the Psalms.  I was a bit behind on my Psalm reading, so read Psalm 11- 16.
I came nearly to then end, and then read these verses.

"I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope."
Psalm 16:8&9

I had set the Lord before me all weekend.  I was not moved - my spirit had been calm.  My heart was glad, resting in Him.  But, that last part had just not been real to me - until that moment.  I  had been wrestling with "hope", and now God was blessing me.

I realised.  We are to have HOPE.  God tells us to HOPE in Him.

Verses came flooding into my mind about hope.

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."
Psalm 31:24

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God:"
Psalm 42:11

 "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:"
Psalm 146:5

 "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."
Lamentations 3:26

"hope maketh not ashamed;"
Romans 5:5

This last one was the one that kept going over and over in my mind.  I wasn't quite sure about how hoping could prevent me from shame, but I knew I was to hope - and I really felt it.  A quiet hope, that everything was ok.

When I was lying in bed a little later, before I got dressed, I was sure I felt a little kick.  I thought it to be impossible to feel it that early - only 13 weeks - but yet, it felt just like those early kicks.  Was it God showing me that the baby was ok?  Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly added to my hope - to my peace.

We got in the car, to go to the scan, and the CD player came on.  The title of the song came flashing onto the CS screen "hope"!!!!  I couldn't quite believe it!  I was pretty sure that God was giving me a message - I was to have HOPE!  Robert got a text from a friend "I hope you and yours are ok".

More hope.

Hope - based on God's ability to do all things well.

Like the Shunamite woman "It is well".

Hope maketh not ashamed?   That meant, that no matter what happened, I had hope - hope that I SHOULD have - and that I would not feel shame that I had not hoped at all.  Better to hope and for the outcome to not be the one I would choose, than to NOT have hope and everything be OK,  and to be ashamed for not putting my hope in God.

We went to the hospital, and inevitably there was a wait.  We were 15 minutes early, plus an extra 30 minutes of waiting after out appointment time.  Those minutes DRAGGED.

We were brought into the room, asked a few questions, and asked to lie down.  Unlike the other scans I have had, they turned the screen well away from my view.  Not even a glimpse for me, and Robert kept behind a curtain so he could not see either.  That further wait, whilst they searched for signs of life.

And then, those words.

"The baby is absolutely fine, look"

The screen was turned, and tears filled my eyes.  I blinked them back quickly, and acknowledged that Robert was right! But, so was my hope!  My hope had been placed in God, and I was not ashamed.  I had trusted Him completely, and hoped for the best, and He had fulfilled that hope that I had, giving me the assurance I had craved.

I called Robert round to look, because he had not been able to come to my first scan.  There, the baby was perfect - not only a strong heartbeat, but wiggling away!   Kicking, leaping and wriggling - as if to say "it's ok Mummy, I am fine".

It was one of the biggest feelings of relief I think I have ever felt.  What a joy!  What a peace!  What a thrill! To see the baby at the first scan was lovely.  To see it now?  Unspeakably perfect.

We let all our family and friends know, as quickly as we could, that all was well.  There was relief from all quarters.  I am pretty sure some may have developed some grey hairs over the weekend, such was their feeling of going through the experience themselves.

When I had a quiet moment later, I looked up the passage that my verse had come from - "hope maketh not ashamed", and my heart leapt and tears came, this time for joy.  I don't think you could find a scripture that summed up my weekend more perfectly, and my lack of scriptural knowledge had not shown me sooner.

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 
And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Romans 5:3-5

Reading it again, now, brings the same thrill to my heart.

I can GLORY in my trial and tribulation.  That trial taught me patience.  That brought me experience - an experience I can share with others, and hopefully encourage them, too.  That experience gave me HOPE... and why does that hope not bring shame?  Because of the love of God that is in my heart, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within.  With that love and presence of God, how can I do anything but have hope, and assurance and peace?  My trust in the sovereignty of God, and His perfect plan for my life, can bring me nothing but hope and peace.  No matter what happens, I have THE LORD.  He is all I need, and will provide for all my needs, whether in times of sadness or joy.

I am rejoicing today.  I know that many others have been through similar experiences without the same joyful ending.  My heart is sad for their loss, and I can now understand, just a LITTLE, what that must be like.

Ultimately, I don't know what lies ahead.  We don't know why this happened, or whether it could happen again. It could, and Robert and I have decided that it will be wise to have the most restful pregnancy I have ever had, without it being a complete "bed rest".  (Unless that is advised, obviously!)  I need to take care of myself, and not put any undue strain on my body.  We need to do all we can to preserve the life of this babe, whilst leaving it all in God's capable hands.

One thing I do know.  I have HOPE.   And, hope does not make you ashamed, because you KNOW that your faith and trust has been rightly placed upon God, who can not fail and only ever does ALL things well.

Please continue to pray for me, as I try and adapt our home life, so I rest more and stress less.  So that I delegate more, and do less (that's a tough one for me!).   So that I am more organised, and have a more calm routine. Again, a challenge for me.  I really appreciate all the prayer that I have had so far, and have felt it so deeply.  And, above all else, I pray that the Lord will use this experience to HIS glory.