Auf Wiedersehen

The funeral for my mother-in-law went well. It is always a sad time, the farewell of a loved one, but for followers of Christ it’s a celebration, too, of the life the person lived, of the end of their final journey. When a woman devotes her life to serving God, to loving the unloved, the sendoff is always bittersweet.

God was there in the bright February skies, in the new-formed heads of tiny snowdrops lining the lanes. God was there in the musty old church, He was there in the coffin, in the pallbearers, in the tears and smiles of friends and family. It was a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. I am so thankful to have known my MIL, to have been accepted as part of the family, and most of all for her very lovely son, my husband, who would not be the wonderful, kind, intelligent man he is today without his mother.

I imagine Jesus stretching out his hands in welcome and my MIL stretching out her hands with that big, warm smile on her face.

Jesus says, “You made it!” and MIL responds, in her wonderful regional accent, “I can’t believe it, I’m ‘ere! At last!” Behind Jesus she spots her husband, no longer old or infirm, but remade and whole and happy, and then she sees her parents, her sister, her friends… Hurrah! They all say. Welcome home!

So for us it’s not so much ‘goodbye’ as ‘auf wiedersehen’ – till we meet again.

Thank you, Jesus 🙂

Happy

So it’s just us this year, which is fine by me. Frank cooked the dinner, a wonderful roast duck with cranberry & orange stuffing, accompanied by roast parsnips, roast baby potatoes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and onion gravy. All I did was microwave the Christmas pudding, pull a cracker or two, read the obligatory terrible jokes and wear a silly hat. Do you think the Queen wears a silly hat at Christmas? It seems almost unpatriotic not to. We’re British: surely it’s against the law to not wear a paper hat and eat Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day? Methinks we ought to wear a festive crown of sprouts and eat the paper hat – it would surely taste better. (Did you see what I did there? I came over all Shakespearey. Very patriotic if I do say so myself, thank you kindly.)

We had Frank’s mother for dinner. Not literally, you understand; I’m not fond of mutton. No, but really, she thoroughly enjoyed her presents and her dinner and was still smiling when I took her back to the care home, which in the difficult-to-navigate waters of dementia was an excellent result. Prince had a wobble at the dinner table but overall he’s been ok. Ish. He loved his gifts, and we even saw a smile! Patience is indeed a virtue (autocorrect wanted to put ‘patience is indeed a virus’ o_O I’m tapping this out on a second-hand Kindle as my laptop has died).

My darling husband gave me a gorgeous Japanese teaset AND a Hyperbole and a Half 2016 calendar! 😀 Definitely on the shortlist for Husband of the Year. Fluff loves her new Keep Warm and Hug a Pony jumper. She nearly cried when she unwrapped it. Chip has fallen in love with her walking, yapping(?) unicorn (a gift from granny). The girls have spent the afternoon playing charades and are now combining the art of toasting marshmallows over an open fire with watching our special family Christmas movie – Shaun the Sheep. Not a particularly Christmassy movie… unless you count the fact that there were sheep in the Christmas story. Well, there were shepherds. Ultimately it’s a tale of love, redemption and unwavering devotion so perhaps not so un-Christmassy.

Ooh, Fluff just handed me a double toasted marshmallow. Plus, this Shaun the Sheep film is hilarious, so Godspeed, dear friends. Enjoy the rest of the festivities. And remember: Jesus is the reason for the season 😉

 

Thankful Not Thursday

Christine over at Glory to God blog, has a weekly ‘Thankful Thursday’ where she, and sometimes her children, list all the things they are thankful for. I think this is a lovely idea and something I would like to do with my family.

I first learned about the importance of being thankful when I went through Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step programme along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous but for all of life’s ‘hurts, habits and hang-ups’. It changed my life. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for CR. Would I even still be alive? I don’t know. I was in the deepest, darkest pit and I just felt like I was sinking. However much I struggled the despair was like a swamp – the more I struggled the more it sucked me down. I prayed for God, if He cared about me, to rescue me. I wasn’t convinced that He did care about me at that point – I mean, I knew it all intellectually but I had been through so much that I wondered if God somehow desired me to suffer. My friends at CR stepped in – and stepped in abundantly. At the weekly Celebrate Recovery meetings we journeyed together, forging bonds that can never be severed. It was not only the healing nature of the programme which was so amazing, it was also the deepest, most profound fellowship one can ever experience. I am in awe at what God did through those meetings!

So, as I say, I first learned about thankfulness as part of Celebrate Recovery. I think at the time I was still so very sad that being thankful was a good thing to practice. It helped me begin to see a glimmer of hope. About a year after leaving CR I had the opportunity to listen to Ann Voskamp read her book ‘One Thousand Gifts’. I’m glad I had the audiobook as well as the book itself, as some of Ann’s language is both colloquial Canadian and poetic in nature, which I found hard to read. With Ann’s voice, and her intonations as she intended, the text was brought to life. Once again my life was changed. I have followed Ann’s blog since last year. It’s great – always challenging, but always genuine. Sometimes it’s a little too saccharin, but there is so much by way of Truth that the odd saccharinity (I invented a new word haha!) is insignificant. I have been trying to learn the discipline of thankfulness (to ‘cultivate the attitude of gratitude’ as my old CR friend used to say) ever since.

When you have lived so long on the receiving end of the lies and the barbs of the enemy, it can be a slow process. But I like Christine’s idea of Thankful Thursday, in which the whole family can participate. I think the King children could do with learning how to recognise the things in life with which they are blessed. I told my little Chip this morning about the idea and she was excited (it doesn’t take much with our Chip, bless her). I told her how thankful I was to have such a helpful little girl (she had brought me a cup of tea) and how thankful I was for her smile (this little child’s smile is like sunshine). The smile grew even broader and she leaned in to give me a hug.

“I’m thankful for my lovely Mummy!” She announced. Later when I took her to school we agreed how thankful we were for the bright sunlight and the clear blue skies.

“I’m thankful that Fluff is coming home today!” said Chip. I laughed and said I wondered how long that would last… Chip grinned and changed the subject, “Mummy, what is 692 divided by 2?”

 

So, here’s my list of things for which I am thankful:

My husband, Frank, who takes care of me on days like today when I need to rest.

Frank working from home, and how hard he works to take care of all of us. He’s my hero.

My three lovely children, who are all beginning to grow up.

My friends – I had a lovely chat with my best friend last night when she phoned, and I really enjoyed seeing Joy the other day, too.

Blue skies and spring time!

Being able to sit here with the French doors open and a blanket wrapped round me.

The miniature daffodils in the window box, heads bobbing in the breeze.

Blossom buds on the tree – not quite in bloom but soon will be.

Listening to audiobooks so even when I’m really tired I’m not bored.

Finally selling the in-laws’ house, which means we can all move on a step, emotionally and practically.

My dear mother-in-law who, despite her loss and the dementia, remains her sweet, sweet self.

My dear sister-in-law, whom I like to describe as ‘just like Frank, but even nicer’ 😉

Our new cleaning lady! With Frank’s hard work we can afford a cleaning lady and I no longer have to feel rubbish when I can’t do something because I know that I can ask her and she is glad of the work.

Being able to rest – despite the tiredness of days when I’ve overdone it (I tried moving some furniture yesterday – big mistake, but no use crying over spilt milk), the rest is as much a rest in spirit as it is physically, and I believe this is a God-gift.

book

‘I do not give to you as the world gives.’ 

(John 14:27 NRSVA)

New furniture – we were able to take several items of furniture from my in-laws’ old house, including dining chairs, a sofa bed, a table, a rattan chair and two bookcases. We are bursting at the seams with books and although we are slowly going through them and giving unwanted books to charity, a bookcase is much better than piles on the floor…

A new blender – our cheap-as-chips blender (which didn’t blend properly) broke, but two days later I found one in my in-laws’ old house that had hardly been used.

 

So many things I could write, but I’ll leave it there because I’m tired now. What about you? What are you thankful for?