Life Unexpected

People get sick… we know that, can see it all around us…. sometimes you browse through the Facebook news feed and suddenly you are struck by another person battling diseases or tragic events. As it’s someone else’s life, you comment with a sad emoji or a short message.

These things happen to other people … not in the own family circle.

My uncle recently passed away, brain cancer… the word no one wants to be associated with..

Very sad indeed…

The bomb shell really came Friday though…. my father in law…. lung cancer…

how is that even possible.. he does not smoke… never ever smoked…

Incomprehensible… and sad

Jesus told us the story about the little birds… those no one really notices anymore.. they are not colourful or rare… He said ‘look at those birds… they don’t worry about tomorrow.. they don’t worry where their next meal is coming from…’

‘Please you do not worry either… The Father knows you’

These are the words of Tommy Walker on the song ‘He knows my name’

I have a Maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in his hands

He knows my name

He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls

And He hears me when I call

And the YouTube clip:

Life is tough sometimes… all you want to do is curl up and let the day pass…. no matter how unexpected life can be and no matter what each of us is going through… He knows us! Our lives matter!!

We do not know what the future holds for my father in law…

All we can do is pray..

Costa Rica Adventure

Did you know that some hummingbirds are as small as bees? They are the most amazing little creatures, with their ability to fly backwards and flap their wings so fast you can’t see them…

Costa Rica has these beautiful little birds in abundance and this weekend Melody and myself were privileged to be taken out by friends where we saw loads.

It was an early morning start.. breakfast in the hotel had only just started, so I was at least able to get some coffee… the first stop was therefore breakfast in San Jose.. with coffee in a traditional little coffee pot… then on to the national gardens about 2 hours south east. That’s where we saw the hummingbirds… I tried to take pictures, but that’s just not possible with a phone.. they move so fast!

We had a great walk through the forest, where we also saw beautiful woodpeckers.. if you are a bird watcher there was lots there!

After a slightly strenuous walk, we went to a trout farm for lunch.. we gave the fishing a miss.. but ate some very fresh trout freshly caught.

I love seeing and experiencing all these things on my travels. I know I am privileged and blessed that people are willing to show me around.

Below a selection of snaps of the day… minus the hummingbirds… you just have to believe I saw all different kinds!!

To end it all, there were several smaller earthquakes here… the bed shakes. Rather alarming!

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Melody is ready for a new adventure

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The crew
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Coffee is served
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Costa Rica style

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yum!
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Sigh…. how much further?
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Fern…..

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Mels hair blends in
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Ready for the rain

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Applepie!

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Expectations

Everyone has them… expectations… especially on other people… how a person should act, dress, behave, raise their kids, love their parents etc..

And then we have expectations on ourselves… what we should achieve, do etc.

I am the wife if a pastor, and although we live in the 21st century, and my husband co pastors a large reasonably modern church there are expectations.. not just on me, but also my husband and daughter… it’s expected to contribute in a certain way. I am away a lot, so some of that transfers to my daughter too. When a member expresses how my husband should behave as a pastor it hurts too… I also have expectations on myself as to how I should live my life.. and I often let myself down too… especially being away so much (which also attracts comments)

Why am I writing this? Cause I read a recent article on self worth and what matters. Is it hard to look at yourself through someone’s expectations on you? Yes!! But it’s not needed to be hard. Our self worth comes through Jesus only. Only through His grace can we live up to our full potential. His expectations on us are that we accept His grace.

With that in mind, I will try to be not do hard on myself… it’s good to be reminded sometimes!!!

(And dad… am not sad!!)

The King’s daughter is all glorious within” Psalm 45:13

Distance

Distance is a funny thing… it can tell you what’s really important in your life…. and it can tell you what’s not worth keeping close.

This week started with my return from Costa Rica without my suitcases… these decided to hang out in Atlanta a day longer… funny… I did not appreciate that distance!! And I prefer to keep my suitcases close.

Melody graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University, which was a distance worth getting to. It was a really great family day… and she did her Masters by Research, at distance (most of her paper was written in the US). Distance allowed her to take the time out to do the research.

We met up with Karsten and Kirsten on Thursday… they are now living down under in New Zealand… a distance not really appreciated! It was great to chat and eat and share life… something we miss doing. Distance did not change this friendship.

On Friday I met up with my dear friend Althea. I was so glad to hang out with her… when I am away I miss her… distance is again negative…however, she is my sister and the connection is there no matter where we are!

Last night was the blood moon… completely cloudy here in Wooburn Green… while my dad texted me that the view was great in the Netherlands… more unappreciated distance… I miss my parents..

Sometimes God feels very distant. This probably has more to do with me than with Him as He is always there. I don’t always seek Him. A distance easily changed by my attitude.

Distance sometimes let’s you know who’s worth keeping and who’s worth letting go (saying from the internet)

Friendship

Friendships come in many different forms… needs are filled in many different ways…

I travel a lot, and am not often anywhere long enough to feel at home. However, I am truly blessed to meet many wonderful people. I know I have blogged on this before… but it truly is worth repeating. Friendship is not just one thing.. it’s lots of things.., and it makes life richer.

These last weeks in Costa Rica I have been privileged and blessed to hang out with colleagues who have become friends too.. they go out of their way to make me feel welcome, each in their own unique way.. whether it’s some fun over the phone, a smile while chatting about nothing, or playing games just because it’s fun… sharing a meal…sharing life.

Below a small selection of photos..

Friendship is not a big thing… it truly is a bunch of little things.

Lazy Sundays

A typical Sunday in the Tap household is cleaning, grocery shopping, eating… or taking me to the airport for me to travel to someplace or other…

Not this Sunday though… we thought about going to the beach due to the nice weather, but changed our minds when pictures of the beach emerged in the news and it looked like you could walk over the heads of people.. instead, a picnic in Cliveden was on the cards.

We have been National Trust members for a couple years, but not made it to Cliveden yet. The estate is not far from our house, and this day we decided to have a look there. It’s a beautiful park! A beautiful hotel too, but we did not make it that far… we found a lovely space in the shade under a tree and spend a few hours just having family fun.

Although I hurt my back a little, this truly is what family fun is about… Mel and I crocheting, Geert reading for his classes… just idling the time away together.

It reminds me of that passage in the Bible of the wedding in Cana. Jesus hung out with His friends and family, showing it’s important to make time for each other… it was His first miracle in the Gospels actually, where He turned water to wine… to me though, the most important part is the being together having fun bit! Spending time….

What’s your Sunday routine? Rushed to get ready for the week? Or are you able to take time out to have fun with family and friends?

My Story Isn’t Over Yet…

As I’ve mentioned before…I suffer with anxiety and depression and as much as I would love to be happy all the time…sometimes I slip. And what I have come to realise is that its okay! It’s okay to not be happy all the time…it’s okay to slip and be down. Life is tough and sometimes you end up questioning everything. That has been me for the last 3 weeks.

Certain life events over the last couple months has meant that I have ended up questioning every aspect of my life! Now those of you who know me, know that my life has been far from easy. I have been through a lot and I’m sure that there will still be plenty more ups and downs to come. But you know what…my story isn’t over yet! My past does not dictate how I will live my future.

Someone super close to me introduced me to ‘Hamilton’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda and there is a line in it that has really stuck to me. ‘There are a million things I haven’t done…but just you wait!’. I am only 26 years old…I still have the rest of my life to go, plenty of time to do the million things I want to do. I can also look back at what I have accomplished…I have completed a research masters degree, which if you’d asked me whether I would have done one 10 years ago, I would have said no, and planning on doing a PhD.

Whilst talking to my best friend about my situation lately, she reminded me of another line in ‘Hamilton’ and it goes ‘I am not throwing away my shot!’ and I decided this week that I won’t. I won’t let my depression and anxiety get the better of me. I am going to fight it and I’m going to get better. I won’t let myself worry about whats going to happen in 5-10 years time. I am just going to focus on what I want to achieve by the end of 2018.

I also just want to thank those closest to me who have been a support through this tough time for me! I really appreciate every single one of you and I love you all dearly. I know I can be a lot to handle and that I say things I don’t mean when I am down. But know that I really do love and appreciate you!

So I might have a million things I haven’t done…yet…but what about you? What is a song lyric that sticks with you and helps you?

Life Lessons

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post…life doesn’t always go the way you want it to or the way you’ve planned. When you look at the news headlines from the last couple weeks, one thing has been apparent…more and more people are committing suicide. So I asked myself why? The most common answer that kept coming forward for me was loneliness, depression and low self esteem. The three go hand in hand and feed each other.

As someone who suffers from anxiety, depression and a low self esteem, it is easy to be told to just speak up when you need help. But it really isn’t that easy, when I am down I socially isolate myself. I don’t mean to do it…I don’t want to do it either, my brain tells me that I’m being silly but my anxiety ridden part of my brain comes out with all the ‘what ifs’. Now I’m not saying don’t be there for those who are going through this, all I’m saying is that it isn’t black and white…gives us time.

The self esteem issue is one that is growing, I’m seeing the younger generations struggling more and more with their self image, and to be honest I am too. Media nowadays is constantly bombarding us with what is deemed ‘beautiful’. Gone are the days when it used to be ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’…freckles are labeled as imperfections. Curves, which used to be ‘the fashion’ is now considered majorly unhealthy and ugly…We are in a society where instead of building each other up, we are tearing each other apart! And then we get shocked when a young person or a celebrity commits or attempts to commit suicide.

We are all unique, shouldn’t we be celebrating that!? I dread to think what it would be like for there to be 2 of me…my parents would definitely agree there! But I also know that they wouldn’t want to imagine a world without me…and I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without my friends or family. So rather than tearing each other apart…lets celebrate what makes us unique!! Instead of finding fault in someone…find something positive in each person you meet!

We are all beautiful! Whether its your freckles, or your smile…we are all beautiful! Being brought up in a religious family, my parents used to always tell me ‘God doesn’t make things that aren’t beautiful and perfect’ and ‘the God who made the mountains and seas, felt like the world needed a ‘you’’. Those stuck with me and helped me when my self esteem was at the lowest.

I still struggle on a daily basis with my self esteem but I try every morning with a daily affirmation that I repeat to myself all day when I feel low. Some days those affirmations are ‘I release negativity from my body and mind’ to ‘I will not compare myself to others. I stay in my lane. I compare myself only to how far I have come and where I want to go.’

So what about you? What is your affirmation quote of the day? What helps you when you are struggling with depression, anxiety, low self esteem or loneliness?

Exploring Cornwall

So as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs (Taking Time for Yourself), dad and I went on a little minibreak to Cornwall. The reason for this trip was that dad had been asked to play the drums at Live in a Field in Chapel Porth (a camp filled with worship and activities) and of course I would join. Who wouldn’t want to escape their everyday life to be beside the ocean for a couple days??

Thursday afternoon came and it was time to drive down…we were expecting awful traffic and a long journey, however, we had managed to beat the bank holiday traffic!! Before we knew it (and after a quick stop off at Mcdonalds) we had arrived in Cornwall. We had decided to rent an Airbnb near the campsite and found a cute flat in Porthtowan. The one downside was that we arrived in the dark and there is no phone signal in Porthtowan. So finding the flat was an adventure…but we managed to find it (a stone’s throw from the beach!) and we settled in and got an early night.

The next morning we woke to dense fog and thick cloud cover…not the weather you hope for when you’re going to the beach…however, I put my wellies on and dad put his trainers on and off we went for a morning walk on the beach. Porthtowan beach is gorgeous, if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, definitely go!! And if the weather is nice…treat yourself to some Cornish icecream from Moomaid of Zennor!! We went looking for shells and found none but did a quick beach clean whilst we were there. After a little exploration, we decided to head over to Trevaunance Cove which had been a favourite spot of ours for the last couple years. However, the beach cafe had been changed and didn’t have the same cosy feel that it had had over the last couple years. So after a quick coffee and a seal or two spotted, we went for another walk on the beach and explored some of the caves.

It soon became time for us to head over to Chapel Porth campsite for dad to drop off his drums and a quick catch up with some friends before heading over to St Ives for a spot of lunch and a quick wander around the beautiful town, and of course another ice cream! We then headed back to the camp for the evening worship and headed off for an early night.

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Saturday morning, dad headed back off for a pretty full day at the campsite. I had decided to take the day for myself and explored the coastal paths between Porthtowan and Chapel Porth. Dad met me halfway and we continued on exploring some of the ruins that Cornwall has to offer! That evening we had a lovely concert filled with Lily-Jo, Speak, Brother and Volney Morgan & New Ye. So no early night for us!

The next morning we were promised sunshine and it definitely came through!!! Blue sky and glorious sunshine! Nothing could beat that! So off we went for ice cream (that I mentioned above) and a quick walk up the coastal path to a viewpoint. After an hour of not spotting anything, we decided to have a quick bite to eat. Whilst eating, we saw the fog coming in and before we knew it…the view was gone! The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see far in front of you at all! So off to Starbucks for a coffee and then back to the camp.

That evening we had the last concert filled with Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. Once that was done, we packed up dads drum kit and headed back to our normal lives. It was a whirlwind of a trip but one that was much needed.

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What do you like about minibreaks?  What do you like to do relax?

Also, check out or Cornwall 2018 Vlog for a more detailed look at what we got up to!!

Taking Time for Yourself

It’s important to, once in a while, take some time for yourself…I did just that this last weekend. After dad being away for 2 1/2 weeks last month…my anxiety picked up…it hit me out of nowhere and for those of you who also have anxiety…you know that it isn’t something that you can just stop…

Anxiety can be crippling, it can make you scared to leave your house, talk to new people, try something new…but you also know that it is a completely illogical fear. I’m known as an over thinker…I over think pretty much everything in my life and so my brain is a constant bundle of things I need to do and scenarios that would never happen. I have yet to find a permanent solution where I can battle my anxiety and overthinking. For right now though a few hobbies keep my mind distracted and this last week and weekend I really focused on myself and pressed the ‘reset’ button in my brain.

So last week, Dad and I took a trip down to Cornwall…dad had an event that he was playing the drums at and I used the time to just relax. We rented an airbnb in Porthtowan just minutes walk from the beach. Now for those of you who know me know that there is something about the ocean and the beach…I feel like I’m at home. My love for marine biology intensifies whenever I’m near the beach and I always feel like the ocean is calling me…my mood instantly changes when I see the ocean, no matter the weather…I cheer up…I relax…I breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

I had so many things planned for that weekend, however there were 2 factors that hindered those plans and could have ruined it all for me. The weather is not something you can control and bank holidays in the UK are notorious for having poor weather. Well, the weather in Cornwall lived up to that…I received pictures from several important people in my life showing the blue sky and talking about how hot it was…I looked out my window and all I had was dense fog, the sun wasn’t anywhere in sight…But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being on the beach! Now the second factor was a little more annoying…2 weeks before I had managed to dislocate my right shoulder (yes I am right handed) and was still in significant pain and arm still in a sling. So suddenly things like picking up trash on the beach, or trying to take a picture with my camera, became a lot harder to do. Yes we had the dense fog for 2 out of the 3 days we were there, but the last day the fog finally lifted and I remembered why I love the ocean and the beach. The colours of the sand and the blue hues of the water…there is just nothing quite like it for me.

Now getting back to what I did to press the ‘reset’ button, I went for numerous walks on the beach and along the coastal path along the cliffs and spent time staring out to sea, anxiously looking to see if I could spot any wildlife (some seals but that was it), I explored some of the numerous ruins that Cornwall has to offer. Spent time reconnecting with old friends, building connections with new ones and drinking multiple iced lattes and peach green tea lemonades. Oh and who can forget the ice creams!!

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Unfortunately, time always flies and before I knew it we were home and the instant lull in my mood was noticeable. I knew I had to do something to stop myself from slipping back into my anxiety driven state. I ended up looking through my yarn stash and decided to crochet something again. Recently I had been knitting a wrap for myself but I really wanted to crochet something. So I picked a pattern and off I went…There is just something about crocheting and knitting that keeps my mind preoccupied and allows me to relax.

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Some people might say that it is selfish to take time for yourself. But if you don’t, then when do you get the time to be yourself…allow yourself to grow and to relax. Sometimes that means a mini break away to your ‘happy place’ and sometimes it means just picking up an old hobby. All I know is that since my mini break…my anxiety has lessened and my mood has improved.

What about you…what is your happy place? Do you have anxiety? What helps calm you down? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!!

Have a great weekend!

~ A cloudy day at the beach, is still a day at the beach – Unknown ~