28 Years

Oh my, time flies… it’s already the end of the first month of 2020, and it really feels like the year just started! However, January is a special month for us and no matter what.. she still looks forward to her birthday!!

I can’t remember the weather, this day 28 years ago. I can barely remember the days following.. but I can remember turning from a woman to a mother! She was the tiniest little thing, a number of weeks early.. but from day one she wrapped up around her little finger.

Today we celebrate her 28th birthday. It’s gone so fast! But still, each day I am so thankful for becoming her mum! We celebrated in style in a funky restaurant in Marlow where we had not been before. A birthday candle on the cake is still fun and asking the singer to sing happy birthday to her is a whole level of more fun!

Maybe this is what God means when He refers to Jesus as His Son. A whole other little of delight. Even if I don’t really understand how the Godhead works, I can so imagine the love flowing through Him when He recognised His Son!

Or the joy Jesus feels when we call Him our father and we recognise ourselves as His kids. A parental relationship is so special! One of deep trust and mutual love.

Melody, am so proud of the young woman you have become! Thank you for celebrating with us!

Another Day

Time has gone so fast, and I realise we have not written anything for some time! The new year started and the family is already back into the swing of things. It’s almost like Christmas never happened!

It’s now the 3rd Sabbath of the month and I guess it’s no longer appropriate to wish folks happy New Year!

However, that’s just what this is all about. New year, new beginnings, good intentions.

I did not really make any. I know I break them as soon as I make them. But still, reflection of the year past and figuring out the future year can’t really be escaped. So caught up in the hype, I did at least tell myself that this year i would try and think of my own needs a little more. Spending time doing things I love just because I love them.

If you ask how I have fared these first 3 weeks of the year.. Uhm.. not so good. However there is one thing I really love doing that relaxes me… Crocheting. I prefer not to do that alone though, it’s fun to do that together with my daughter. But as I am often away, I do find myself often crocheting by myself. Each stitch is done in a rhythm, while my thoughts freely flow. Maybe it’s just a daily reflection, going through the day, self examining and often praying for those around me.

Come to think of it, maybe that should be my good intention for the rest of this year. Starting each day with devotion, and finishing each day with reflection.

My current devotional is ‘my utmost for His highest’ by Oswald Chambers. I subscribe and daily the thought for that day is emailed to me. (https://utmost.org)

Maybe this year we can motivate each other to keep going?

Give me Jesus

No other song grips me as much as the song ‘give me Jesus’. It has no known composer or text writer, apparently it was written in the period when slavery existed. It is classified as a spiritual. The theme of the song is strength in tribulation. The song is included in the hymnal of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Its not so easy to interpret its meaning or purpose. Below is my interpretation.

In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus,
You may have all this world,
Give me Jesus.

We can still be slaves in today’s world. Some literal, and some spiritual. It’s good to be reminded that nothing is as important unless we have Jesus.

I love travelling on a scenic route along the Mississippi River. The river is majestic and huge, although from humble beginnings. The river is so wide in some places, it looks like a lake! It has various locks in it to guide boats through the parts of the river that may not have enough water. I am always amazed at that engineering wonder, how ships that large can be transported up and down by the strength of water. It needs the lock though! The lock protects, and provides enough power to help the ship stay its course.

That’s what Jesus is to me. Like a lock in the busy times of life when I feel enslaved by all that is around me. It shelters me, and sets me on a course that is good and manageable for me. And when the waters get too shallow it guides me safely through it.

Give me Jesus…….

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State Fair

A country fair in England is probably the closest to how I can describe a state fair. Showcasing the best and brightest a US state has to offer. Apparently Minnesota is one of the largest State Fairs in the country.

And so being here in the US at the time of the fair it’s almost a given to go! A group of colleague friends and me went….

The first section we happen to walk through is the animal section.. in fact, we did not wander too many other places but stayed close to the Animal barns.

It’s so interesting to see.. goats are being pimped, washed, groomed.. pigs walk on a leash… people take great pride showcasing their breeds.

The horses though are my favourite… the horse and carts were just amazing to see. The way the horses are dressed up and walk so graciously! The owners look proud for a reason!

Combine that with all the sounds, smells and foods.. it’s an overwhelming attack on the senses:

I had a delicious pecan roll for dinner, washed down with lemonade. Not sure I want to know the amount of calories I consumed!

You seem to be able to get just about anything on a stick. Fried banana split, fried olives, fried mash, fried pickles….

Fries come in huge buckets, as do cookies… I guess to be shared, but who is going to say something if you eat it all alone?

People watching is probably my favourite activity. Dressed up, dressed down, having fun. I was glad to be able to hang out at the fair for a few hours and sample the atmosphere.

This event makes me reflect on those times in Jesus life where large groups gathered around Him, hungry for what He had to share. He gave them food, when they were hungry. However, when He wanted to talk to His Father, he sought solitude, being away from people.

I think I feel not to different. A few hours at the fair and I am ready for a day of rest, reflecting on other things!

How has your week been? Are you also happy with this day of rest, to reflect back on that which is important?

Gold

Kintsugi is a Japanese art to repair broken pots with gold. Golden joinery, part of the history of the pot.

I love the thought that is behind it.. although there may be some personal interpretation in this.. that being broken does not mean it’s useless and should be thrown away. Instead the pieces are glued back together with gold, making it more precious and valuable in the process!

It appeals to me, to know that even though I feel broken sometimes, I can be made whole again with gold.

There is a verse in the Bible that speaks to me about this too: Job 23:10

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out as gold.

None of us are spared trials, struggles and difficult situations. It is in those times however that we can rely on our God to purify us and make us whole again, if we trust Him with our heart and lives. What an incredible promise that is. Made valuable through golden joinery.

The words of a particular song (we are broken, by High Road. You can listen to it by copy/paste this YouTube link in your browser… https://youtu.be/r0XFrF6Mpj4 ) sum it up so well. Sometimes it takes a little thing to mend.. We are broken to become more beautiful, tried by fire, shine like gold. We are shattered to free the diamonds in our souls.

We are broken to be whole.

Just like the Japanese art form.. made whole by gold, more valuable than ever!

Taking Photos

‘If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment’

‘There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer’

‘Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future’

‘To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them’

These are some random quotes about taking pictures.. and some describe adequately my thoughts on the subject. It’s exciting to see the world through the lens of a camera, trying to capture the moments seen in front of you. Being very proud when this turns out to be ok.. and sad if the moment just can’t be captured well.

It’s true that not all moments lend itself well for photos. Sometimes it’s ok to be seeing scenes with the minds eye. Try and capture that amazing sunset, or the tears inducing romantic scene.

Still, I try and capture as much as possible with my camera and now my iPhone.. resulting in 1000’s of pictures I like to browse through once in a while.

I don’t venture much beyond the snaps I want to keep for myself, feeling inadequate in the post processing of pictures.. photoshop is pretty alien to me although I really admire those that are proficient in it. Quite a number of people come to mind whose work I admire and treasure.

I assisted Melody on a recent photo shoot recently and saw the amount of work that goes into planning out the pictures.. and tremendous amount of work still coming taking the pictures from ordinary to extra ordinary.

I am more of a point and shoot woman.. I like the different lenses and settings, but as the picture is taken.. so I’ll keep it. Guess I still have much to learn!

When enjoying all this, the bible verse in Psalm 95:4-5 comes to mind:

‘In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land’

Or Psalm 19:1 ‘the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’

So don’t mind me when I my phone or camera is in front of my face. I am trying to capture the beauty I see around me, thanking Him for giving me eyesight and the ability to see beauty all around me!

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Relax, He’s got this

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There is something about flowers that relax me. Flowers in the garden, flowers in a vase, visiting a national garden etc. Not that I am any good at keeping flowers beautiful in my own garden! But the variety of species, the intriguing designs, such a reflection of our Creator!

One of my absolute favourite past times is to visit lavender fields. The colour is beautiful, the smell is lovely, the vastness amazing! Below a small selection of photos from my most recent visit @hitchin.

When you look at their intricate design you can’t do anything but marvel at the beauty, and thank the Designer for thinking of all this. It reminds me of a verse out of the sermon on the mount (Matt 6:28-31)

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?

Flowers can not care for themselves. They are beautiful, and dress up the environment they are in. We can learn from this that we do not need to be anxious about our matters. God will take care of us as He is taking care of the flowers.

What a comforting thought when worry is often so much more natural than trust in God.

He’s got this!

Flowers remind me of that, as I am a natural worrier. Maybe that’s why I love being surrounded by flowers!

 

Quiet Time

We have been quiet on here… sometimes life just absorbs us so much, there is no time to stop and smell the roses….

It’s not a good thing! To feel you are being lived, instead of living. To feel you are rushed, instead of being able to take time to reflect on the little things. To worry, instead of remembering that even if the little birds don’t know where they will get their food from, they know they have a Heavenly Father who takes care of them.

The whole family has been very busy. But I want to share how super proud I am of my daughter. She has been working hard to get our Etsy shop updated (hope you are taking a moment to check it out right here on our blog, the tab marked Etsy), and has been finding opportunities to have a stall at various events to sell our handmade shawls and blankets. To build up a business like this takes time, and is very slow going. But she is sticking with it and I am not apologising for promoting this!

She is learning valuable skills, like patience… something I struggle with on a daily basis.

I am just trying to remember to stop once in a while and lookup and around me, to see the beauty nature has to offer me, and to remember that I have a Heavenly Father who longs to spend time with me, as much as I do with Him.

Below some snaps of some precious moments in nature where His voice is the loudest. Hope you are also able to take these moments of rest, quiet time, and find time to recognise those around you that make you proud!

 

 

Unselfishness

What a title!! To be unselfish… to put other needs before yours? To think of someone else more than yourself?

For sure ‘unself’ is not self… not seeking something for yourself..

I am wrestling with that verb. To be unselfish. Do I not count? Do my wishes and needs not count?

Jesus said in the Bible in Matt 22:39 that we have to love our neighbour as ourselves. He said it’s the second most important commandment. The first one being to Love God above all else. The new English translation says it as follows: And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” It almost seems contradictory to the verb of unselfishness.. we are tasked to love others as ourselves and we are to be unselfish.

I recently read an article, where being unselfish was quite nicely summarised:

Unselfish love is not about giving up what you want; it is about accepting and encouraging your partner’s desires and dreams as much as they do yours.

That’s what I want to be known as.. someone who is not selfish but seeks the others success as much as my own. That’s the kind of boss I want to be, the kind of friend, the kind of mother etc.There is this song from Amy Grant: My fathers eyes (https://youtu.be/D9L1ODcaE-k)

The words are like this:

I may not be every mother’s dream for her little girl,
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world.
But that’s all right, as long as I can have one wish I pray:
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say,

She’s got her father’s eyes,
Her father’s eyes;
Eyes that find the good in things,
When good is not around;
Eyes that find the source of help,
When help just can’t be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you’re going through
And feeling it the same.
Just like my father’s eyes,
My father’s eyes,
My father’s eyes,
Just like my father’s eyes.

To me, that’s unselfishness… and I hope that’s shining through in my life.What about you?

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough…

So here I am…7 months after my operation (check out the ‘Living with a hidden (not so hidden) illness’ series if you aren’t sure what I am on about) and I am finally back on track. I am able to walk more than 50 metres without being out of breath…well unless I am walking with my mum, who runs more than walks!

We just had a bank holiday this past weekend in the UK and we thought we’d use the time to go and climb Pen Y Fan in south Wales. So after dropping mum off at the airport, who unfortunately had to go back to America for work, and off we went to Cardiff where we spent the night.

Following a filling and hearty breakfast and coffee at the ready, we drove into the Brecon Beacons and before I knew it…we were at the base of Pen Y Fan. From the road we could see how busy it was and it really didn’t look like it was much of a climb. Boy was I wrong.

Almost as soon as we started the ascent, I was already out of breath!!! However, after many breaks on the way up, we made it to the top of Pen Y Fan (886m) in just over 2 hours. We then also climbed Corn Du (873m) before a steep descent down a different route. We were so insanely lucky with the weather and somehow avoided the rain.

This might not seem like a huge feat, and the mountain really wasn’t that high, but for me this was huge. This was the first real challenge I’d had since my surgery. Finally having two lungs I could use to breathe and no pressure on my spine, definitely helped. Yes I was still very much out of breath and it took me a longer than I’d hoped but I made it!

Hiking will never be one of my favourite things to do but getting to the top, I couldn’t help but feel proud and happy of my achievements. It is also the first step on a long journey. Dad and I have challenged ourselves to climb either Mount Kilimanjaro or to do the Base Camp trek of Everest in 2020. So keep an eye out for our other climbs and adventures!!

What about you? What is your favourite mountain to climb? What has been your proudest moment this year so far?