Abiding

It has been well over a year since I last blogged. Is anyone still following my blog? I think of you all often! The sudden and unexpected death of a very dear friend left me reeling just over a year ago, and we also experienced great upheaval, more trauma… I didn’t want to write about any of it on my blog because some of it wasn’t my story to tell. The trauma involved family members rather than me directly and although it was bloody awful for me, it’s still not my story to tell. Perhaps one day those involved will desire to tell their stories. Perhaps not.

As for me, my illness has significantly improved. I was in a wheelchair every time I went out for about nine months. Now I can walk a mile or even two on a good day and I continue to get better. I am so grateful. I meditate (nearly) every day. Mindfulness meditation has become a wonderful tool to enable me to cope with everything that we have been through and to support family members who have needed it.

I’m now a home educator <gulp>. Fluff decided she had had enough of school so we’re doing Year 11 from home, which has been interesting to say the least. I am enjoying it, but it is also exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. Yesterday I felt quite unwell and stayed in bed for most of the day after dropping Prince off at school. He’s still at school, bless him. We have another year before we have to send him off to special needs college.

Our daughters have made some drastic changes – Fluff is now vegan and extremely vocal about it. As part of our homeschooling she is studying Music (clarinet and piano) and GCSEs in Maths, English Language, Double Science and Geography, along with ABRSM Music Theory. She is determined to study plant-based nutrition and environmental science at university. Chip has become vegetarian and sees herself as a social activist. She is excelling at school and loving her weekly theatre school. They are both involved in Girl Guides and Fluff has become a Young Leader with Rainbows. She’s also just completed her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. My children make me smile.

My darling husband is still working hard for his family and enjoying his role-playing games. He’s also assisting with homeschooling, especially Maths as that’s his speciality.

Our guinea pig brood grew (and shrank, sadly). We now have three, two girls and a boy. Cookie is snuggled up under my chin as I type, making little snuffling noises to tell me she is happy. She’s a black and white squeaky fluff-ball and very cute with it. The piggies even came camping with us in August when we went up to see Hadrian’s wall. I fell head over heels in love with the Northumbrian National Park.

800px-Vindolanda_bathhouse_-_2007-05-19

Vindolanda © Simon Robinson, 2007 / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL-1.2.

“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” – Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

“This moment is as perfect as it can be.” – Richard Rohr, Letting Go

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” – John 15:9

How are you? How’s life been treating you? What is God doing with you in your life?

 

The Tracing of Scars

man of sorrows

Man of Sorrows

To…

every single one who carries

their own unspoken broken –

these pages had to be for you –

the tracing of scars.

~ Dedication at the beginning of The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

Book Review: Secret Keeper

This is a replica of what I posted over on Goodreads. It is not a favourable review (and is rather brief), but nonetheless I thought its content worth sharing on my blog:

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Modesty exists for women and girls only…? Men lust after women but women never lust after men? Bathsheba was the *cause* of King David’s lust and subsequent murder of her husband because she was beautiful so she must have done something to provoke him? A naked 19th century statue is evidence of what ‘true modesty’ looks like? Bizarre. Just bizarre.

Modesty is a frame of mind, not just for women and girls but for men and boys, too. It is not just the way I dress but my entire attitude to life. THIS is what a decent book on modesty would say. This book is not going anywhere near my daughters. A book addressing modesty should be about boys and girls, men and women, respecting one another and respecting themselves and their physical bodies.

Beginnings

…Cells began to divide and re-form, as they do, and something new was made. As the weeks went by and the woman began to feel odd and sick, the new thing took shape: a comma, a tadpole, eventually the bud of a brain and a spinal column. Suddenly, in the shallow darkness of a summer night, a heart completed itself and began its iambic beat… At last, one bright April morning when white clouds drifted high in a blue sky and leaf-buds beaded the tired grey trees, it was time for the woman and the new thing to part, a painful work that took many hours, into the cold night and through the next morning… 

The child was a girl, but the most important thing about her was that she was herself. She was someone new, someone who had not been before and so, like all babies, she was a revelation…

~ from the opening lines of The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss. I was struck by the beauty and rhythm of the words. I hope the rest of the novel lives up to this early promise.

 

Who?

Who said this: “[My uncle was] a shameless old man who taught us obscene folk songs in Genovese dialect. That’s why none of the words of the little Genovese I know is repeatable”?

Was it –

a) Donald Trump

b) Pope Francis

c) Prince Philip

d) Silvio Berlusconi

 

Scroll down for the answer 👇👇👇

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: Pope Francis (yes, really!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way We Were

I came across the video below while looking for a definition of ‘information superhighway’ which was mentioned in a novel called Fear the Sky by Stephen Moss (I remain a dyed-in-the-wool ‘hard’ SF fan). Way back in the 90s I used to curl up on the settee next to my dad to watch Tomorrow’s World. I remember being utterly captivated by the idea of cyberspace, to the point that I wrote a science fiction novel (sadly incomplete) set in a time where hoverboards were the norm (thank you, Michael J. Fox), using magnetic strips in the roads with the rider’s hoverboard containing an opposing magnetic force, people communicated via wristwatches which doubled as fully interconnected computers, inter-planetary travel was possible and Mars had been made partially inhabitable. My central character was a teenager who was one of the second wave of Martian settlers. Strangely, many of these things are not too far from the truth! Anyway, I’ll leave Maggie Philbin (remember her?) to it:

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=V8cnP-RtRHU

Oh, the joys of 20:20 hindsight!

 

 

Come with Nothing

 

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Come to the table. Come, sit at His feet.

Come if you’re able, come if you’re meek.

Come if you’re broken, come if you’re lost.

Come, come touch the heavenly cloth

Of His robe,

And feel Him breathe into your soul –

All your discarded shards

Made whole.

 

It’s not glue that binds shards together,

It’s grace;

Grace for the humble,

Grace for the race

You thought you had lost,

Grace for the weary and scrap-heap tossed.

 

His yoke is easy and His burden is light,

His words are joy and His love a delight,

You won’t find Him in comfort

Or in success,

You’ll find Him when you’re sure you’re the last to be blessed.

 

He was there in your past, He’s here in the mess,

Come join the raggedy-taggledy fest!

Come to the table. Come, sit at His feet,

And learn from the Master the Way of the Least.

~ Sandyfaithking, 2016

 

I think it’s a bit too close to doggerel for my liking, but sometimes you have to write and be done with it, I reckon. This poem was inspired by these words from Laura Martin’s book ‘Positively Powerless’:

Isaiah 57:15 states:

For this is what the high and exalted one says – He who lives forever, whose name is holy, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

It almost seems a contradiction: God dwells in a high and holy place, but He also dwells with the contrite and lowly. It is a startling contrast: we get close to God by realising how far we are from Him… Jesus taught similar principles… The ‘blessed’ are those who are poor in spirit, mournful and meek – those  who realise they come to the spiritual table with nothing to offer.

Highlighting is my own, not Laura’s. You can read more intelligent, interesting insights over at Laura’s blog: lightenough.WordPress.com

 

Never Again

I rose almost without realising it as she fell back, trying to pull her hands away from mine. I held on, even as she started to scream, until finally she jerked once more, and tugged free, staggering back onto the mats and landing on her backside as I stared down at her and she looked up at me. Her face was haggard, blue eyes fearful for the first time since I’d known her.

“So,” she said, recovering her frosty expression, “it’s you. You’re the more powerful.”

“You’re damned right I am.” I looked down at her, my expression now of cold fury, not unlike hers. “Look at you. My whole life you tried to keep me under your control. You had to beat me down. Cage me. To keep me from rising.” I looked at her with the ultimate disdain. “No more. I’m not a little girl any more, and you will never have power over me again.”

~ from Family: The Girl in the Box, Book 4, by Robert J. Crane

Yes, there’s a reason I’m loving this series of contemporary Science Fiction. I love the main character, Sienna. She may be a decade (or two) younger than me, but, well, I took a little longer to get to the same point. You will never have power over me again, whether your name is shame, or sorrow, or sin. I have been set free. Free indeed.

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you… whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.

~ Teresa  of Ávila

 

Haitch as in ‘Orse

“Now,  what’s the matter?”

“Oh, it’s silly I know but, well, I just don’t know how to make a soufflé.”

“Is that all? I’ll help you, Miss – er..?”

“Dubois. Martine Dubois.”

“Percival. Percival ‘iggins. Haitch, high, egg, egg, high, enn, ess.”

“Higgins.”

“No, no, no: ‘iggins. The haitch is silent, as in ‘orse.”

~ ‘The Chef that Died of Shame’

Hancock’s Half Hour (radio), 1955

Despite the fact that Tony Hancock died before I was born, I have long been an ardent fan and was thrilled to find the complete (surviving) episodes of series one and two on audible.com. Some of the humour may be dated, but much of it is as funny as ever, like the extract above, delivered in the usual deadpan style.

Humour seems to live in symbiosis with sadness. I wonder why. I recall going through a very dark phase a few years ago where the only thing I could tolerate was humour, most notably Christian author Adrian Plass and his Sacred Diary series. It was an essential part of my recovery. Nowadays, after I’ve listened to my daily dose of Old Testament, New Testament and Christian book, I love a bit of humour. It’s like the perfect dessert. Keeps me going till the next meal.

A heart full of joy and goodness makes a cheerful face, but when a heart is full of sadness the spirit is crushed.

 Proverbs 15:13 (AMP)

A Half Unearthly Radiance

She found Anne standing motionless before a picture hanging on the wall between the two windows, with her eyes astar with dreams. The white and green light strained through apple trees and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little figure with a half unearthly radiance.

“Anne, whatever are you thinking of?” demanded Marilla sharply…

“That,” she said, pointing to the picture… entitled ‘Christ Blessing Little Children’, “and I was just imagining I was one of them, that I was the little girl in the blue dress, standing off by herself in the corner as if she didn’t belong to anybody, like me. She looks lonely and sad, don’t you think? I guess she hadn’t any father or mother of her own, but she wanted to be blessed too, so she just crept shyly up on the outside of the crowd hoping nobody would notice her, except Him. I’m sure I know just how she felt. Her heart must have beat and her hands must have got cold, like mine did when I asked you if I could stay. She was afraid He mightn’t notice her, but it’s likely He did, don’t you think? I’ve been trying to imagine it all out, her edging a little nearer all the time until she was quite close to Him, and then He would look at her and put His hand on her hair and, oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her! But I wish the artist hadn’t painted Him so sorrowful looking. All His pictures are like that, if you’ve noticed. But I don’t believe He could really have looked so sad, or the children would have been afraid of Him.”

~ from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

~ extract from Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)