Starting Over Again.

Starting Over Again

“For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light”.

Starting Over Again.

When we moved from Australia to the UK we knew in our hearts that there was unfinished business here in this glorious, lush island of rolling green hills and abundant history. This beautiful British country that was to become our forever home.

“Until we realised that the jacket we had been
trying to pass off as a good fit,
felt truly uncomfortable and awkward”.

And in many ways we were the misfits, the renegades, the square pegs in round holes. The Australians who felt out of place in their home country.

A bit like wearing a jacket that needed re-sizing. No matter how much we tried to make that jacket fit – take it in here, add some pleats there, fancy it up a bit. It just never sat properly across our shoulders. It was too baggy under the arms, sat heavy on our chests and scratchy to wear for long periods of time.

We knew that we weren’t planted in Australia for long seasons, as much as we tried and tried to force those roots, deep down in the dry Australian soil.
They just didn’t grow, didn’t stick and most certainly didn’t thrive.

We tried moving, hoping that the ground was more fertile in other places, prettier suburbs, better schools, even better paid jobs. And that did work for a while, until we realised that the jacket we had been trying to pass off as a good fit, felt truly uncomfortable and awkward.

 

So we did it.
We upended our entire family, our lives, home, nearly all of our worldly possessions.
Sold everything and with our most precious cargo, our six children, we relocated.
To England.

We broke hearts, friendships and fractured family relations, through this move to the other side of the world.
It hurt us and it hurt others. So much confusion as to why living in the great south-land of promise and opportunity, just wasn’t enough.
Wasn’t us. If it ever was in the first-place.

“It took much longer than we ever anticipated”

And for some, the thought of making a new life in a cold climate, grey, drab and wet, was unfathomable. But I guess that depends on which side of the coin you look at it. Like everything and everywhere, there are pros and cons.
We decided to look at the pros.

You would think that once we had made the momentous decision to move, it would be all smooth sailing.
I sure did.

But that was far from the way it panned out.
Our new jobs were challenging, making connections, time-consuming and exhausting. Everything was a starting block.
We felt lonely at times and displaced. Setting up home all over again was expensive. Heck even getting a mobile phone contract was nearly impossible.

“I eventually realised that I was here all along”

However, just because something is right, doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult.
To adjust, settle, face reality.
Like the couple who long to have a child without success and finally, their dream has come to fruition.
Except being a parent is hard but that doesn’t mean their child wasn’t meant to be or they truly didn’t deserve to be parents.
It just means that ‘right’ can also be challenging.
Or the couple who are perfectly suited for each other and marry. Do they never face hardship or sadness? Of course not. Marriage is hard work. For all of us.
Even for the most loved-up, cute couples you see on social media.
Happiness isn’t without struggle.

We knew it would take time. To settle, find friends, breathe a little easier.
But it took much longer than we ever anticipated.
Five years much longer.
And there were many, many times throughout those years that I couldn’t find myself anymore.
Where had I left me? Where was I to be found? Was I to be found?

And I eventually realised that I was here all along. That our new path was really a journey that was to twist and turn, like all other life journeys.
Some points would be magical and others devastating but we are building a life based on purpose, not perfection.

Of course there will be ups and downs, sickness and trials, hardship and rejection. For this is life, despite what country you live in.

 

However, the one thing we do know, is that our jacket now fits.
Snug in all the right places, with space to move and freedom to stretch out our arms and fly.

In this new place that isn’t so new anymore and one we call home.

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Are Your Kid’s Weird?



Are Your Kid’s Weird?

Are your kid’s weird? 

Nobody has ever asked me that question to my face but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought it. It’s certainly a phrase I have heard thrown around the internet and home-school groups.

We home-school four of our six children and have done so for a few years now. Not only do I hear these words but also, the inevitable, “Is your child socialised?” query.

Ok, so let’s talk about home-schooling, socialisation and weird kids.

For sure, socialisation is the ONE question that home-schoolers will be asked time and time again. And whilst I do inwardly sigh when I hear these imminent words, having been asked it at least 3457 times over the past few years, I do understand the genuine reasons behind the concern, from someone who chooses mainstream education.
Because to be honest, I was one of those people who asked that very question before I home-schooled my children.
Nothing to hide here.

Interestingly, in the UK, the number of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40% over three yearsAcross the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17, which was up from about 34,000 in 2014-15. The main reasons cited were mental health issues and avoiding exclusion.
These figures are staggering and more than a little sad for the mainstream education system in England but a win for home-schooling groups.

But firstly, are home-schoolers weird?
Maybe, I don’t know.
There are weird kids and adults in the world right?
I guess it depends how you define weird. I think weird is quirky, individual, sassy, unique, stand-apart, butt-kicking, non-conforming awesomeness.
All of the former, or just one. Weird is cool.




Are my kids weird? They might be. Because I am their mother.
But as weird is cool, who really cares?

I remember when I was in high school in Australia, there was a ‘weird girl’, who wore only black, including black lipstick and blue-black hair – all matted and wild, with (gasp!) a tongue pierce, very edgy in those days.
I thought she was soooooooo weird and for years I solely judged her on her outward appearance – simply because she was different.
But the truth was, I was afraid of her, because she wasn’t like any of my friends or myself.
I didn’t realise at the time, that different was ok.
And she turned out to be a gorgeous-hearted, beautiful soul. A dear friend to me in the latter years of my schooling.
And I felt so ashamed for my judgemental heart towards her all those years prior, even before I had bothered to open my mouth and make any effort towards getting to know her.

However, the biggie, the glaringly obvious, huge elephant-in-the-room constant question for home-schoolers is, of course, “whether daily interaction with peers is necessary for a child’s positive social and emotional development”?

Some, many, would argue, yes. Absolutely, categorically a huge, big, fat, yes.
With the absence of a large group of peers, many believe it would be a challenge for their children to develop essential social skills. Some of these may include working together as a team, listening to other people’s opinions, learning to compromise, fostering compassion, problem-solving when faced with a difficult situation such as a fall-out of a friendship group, disagreeing respectfully and understanding appropriate ways to communicate with others – to name a few.

And all of this does happen in a school environment.
It has to really because when you place 20-30 children together in the one class, this different mix of personalities, emotions and characters will teach your children these skills, whether it is a positive or negative environment.
They will learn in a group-based situation. Which is totally ok.

Let’s face it, a large percentage of society choose to educate their children in main-stream schools and many, many children leave school very well-adjusted and educated individuals.
But also, many don’t.

Whilst for us, teaching at home, we obviously don’t have that constant mass environment for the children to learn these skills, they do however, learn in other unique ways.
And different isn’t wrong, as I have said above, it’s just different.

Take my 17 year old son for example, who is in Sixth Form. He makes decisions every day in a social setting, some which he would rather not face.
No, he doesn’t want to walk near the oval where some of his peers are smoking weed. And thanks for the offer to attend a rave and sneak in a six pack of beer but that’s just not his scene.
However, yes, he would love to go to the movies and a pizza with his crew of homies.
So many choices, every single day.


We find our rhythm in other ways, which may slide against the social-grain. But guess what? We still have happy, healthy and well-adjusted, social children.
At home the kids won’t have to make a call as to whether they will join their peers on the oval for a few drags of hash, but they face other situations that many schooled children won’t.

Such as they are on first-name basis with at least five homeless people in Norwich. They have worked alongside them in the community.
They have witnessed first-hand how dangerous drink and drugs can be, how damaging to the body and soul. They know how to keep safe and personal boundaries. To not reveal where they live, play, work. And they sure know how to show love, compassion and acceptance.
They sit with the guy who lives under the same bridge in the city and has a heart of gold but nowhere else to call home.

They have learnt to share what they have, with each other. We are a large family and sharing is as necessary as breathing and they do so without missing a beat.
Daily, our lifestyle is a learning curve of developing hearts. Maybe it is ingrained within them because they have not known any different, but they haven’t learnt this in a classroom.
They live it each day and don’t view it as a sacrifice, rather a lifestyle.


These sorts of things can be learnt in other ways, outside of school and peers. Sometimes it is stepping into the grimy, hidden places in society and being church to the un-churched.
It can be uncomfortable but it sure teaches the children how to relate, communicate and be kind, which they own – in spades.



The children have friends their ages whom they catch up with in the school holidays, meet at the movies or for a meal. They chat over Skype or Facetime and some of them still keep in touch with pals from early school days in Australia. They share their hearts with friends of all ages, all places and all over the world.
And whilst the internet can be a scary forum, it’s also a brilliant way to connect and we do so, often, forging new connections and embracing friendships of old.

We love because we are loved and that’s all that matters in this crazy hectic world of normal, which isn’t at all normal really, but what you can mould and shape into normal.
And remember, my normal isn’t yours.
Embrace your path of normal, with great confidence.

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When Life Needs a Change of Direction

When Life Needs a Change of Direction

How One Small Gesture can Lead to Great Things.

“Sometimes one small gesture, can give you the strength to do enormous things.
A little generosity can unleash great tenderness.
Leading in time to deep, real love.
And a single conversation can change your mind, your life.
The world is no bigger than the people who inhabit it.
And together or alone, we are closer than we know”.
-Vanessa Redgrave-

I watched Episode 4 (Series 7) of ‘Call the Midwife’, on the weekend, and was touched by the truth of the above words. It reminded me of a moment that signalled a major change of direction in the course of my life and our family.

Just over six years ago in Australia, Matthew, my husband and I, were in Target, shopping for our daughter’s birthday, which happened to be the next day.
I remember feeling disappointed in myself that I had left it so late.
I had always been quite organised with the children’s birthday’s, often buying them gifts months before.
However, working three days a week and caring for six children, two of them twins who were still toddlers, was beginning to stretch me in uncomfortable ways.
I often felt overwhelmed with the daily challenges of caring for a large family, whose ages ranged from 18 months to 15 years.


And on this evening, running around the store, 20 minutes before they closed, I again felt that crushing weight of being too busy, fall heavily upon my chest.
And of me, wanting to step off the fast train I had found myself frequently boarding.

I was standing in the book department and happened to glance across at the ‘self-help’ and ‘inspirational quotes’ section. One of the books caught my eye immediately.
On the front cover was a sign-post.
It was the sort that I see all the time living in country Britain – the old-fashioned wooden types, often pointing to a public footpath that meanders across a field or through a wildflower covered woodland.

This signpost had two arrows in different directions.
One was the path of busyness and the other was the path of living intentionally slower.
Underneath the signs were these words –

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls”.
Jeremiah 6:16

Change in Life's Direction
Often people speak of an instant ‘knowing’ about something or someone. In my life, I have had those inner feelings on quite a few occasions.
This was one of those moments.

I knew that I knew, that I knew, our lives were about to change. Had to change.
We were at those crossroads, indeed standing right underneath them, within the harsh bright lights of Target.
And we had a choice to make.
I also knew it was going to be a truly difficult and gut wrenching life choice. Because it meant leaving my extended family.

I looked at Matthew and pointed to the front cover. He said, “I think this means we have to make a choice on where we live and how we live”
And I said, “I want to live in England”.

Change in life's direction
From that point onwards, we had a renewed focus and confirmed path set before us.

We wanted to be in the countryside, amongst green pastures and beautiful spring flowers.
For our children to grow up in Europe, embracing the diversity of cultures and the opportunities to travel and experience the world.
We wanted to bring our children up within a slower paced environment.
But most of all, we wanted to rid ourselves of all our material gain and live a simple life. One without so many distractions and one outside of the norm of our 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom new build home. In a rapidly growing housing estate, full of the same types of homes and gardens.
We wanted more!
Change in life's direction
I didn’t buy the book but I did buy a diary. In that diary, I documented our journey from that defining moment in Target – the small gesture which led to great things, to actually moving to the UK.

How is it that one small gesture can lead to great things?

This is what we did –

1- We made a solid decision and stuck with it – we kept our focus and began to strive towards the end goal – living in England.
2- We involved the children, daily. Speaking about our plans and allowing them to have their input and listening to their concerns and worries (of which there were quite a few, such as leaving family and friends).
3-We made small steps every day towards the end decision. This meant talking about moving, telling friends, sharing with family, selling our belongings, deciding on those things we deeply treasured, looking for employment.
4- We made the decision to not become despondent when it began to take a lot longer than we initially anticipated. A job was difficult to find from the other side of the world. Skype interviews were uncomfortable and we weren’t always familiar with the different counties of the UK. A lot of research was carried out in order to familiarise ourselves with each region of the UK.
5-We immediately chose to not wear our tinted glasses – as in – the grass always seems greener on the other side. In the case of England, I can safely say that the fields and hedgerows were exponentially more colourful (and green!) than Australia. However, that was only in nature and not in actual living.
6- Once our decision was made, we didn’t leave room for doubt. The diary I kept was a brilliant time-line of events and circumstances. Positive things people said to us about the move, encouraging signs and confirmations along the way. In other words, we kept our eyes and ears open to remain committed to our decision, despite many things not going accordingly to plan.

Change in directionJust over a year later, we arrived in England. Our new home was a sweet cottage, called Red Berries. It was surrounded by fields of produce growing. We had rose bushes and fruit trees in our garden. The children made a den under a big old apple tree and spent their summer days playing in the comforting shade of the branches. My soul started to breathe again. We gradually made friends and established a sense of belonging.

Maybe for you today, friend, you are looking for the signs as well.
Whatever your circumstances and situation, there will be a way forward.
Sometimes it’s a bit blurry and feels unsure doesn’t it? And you worry about making the wrong decision.
The thing is – there is no such thing as the perfect choice, only to keep your eyes open for the cues that are before you.
Look for those signposts – because they will be there.
That single conversation may change your mind, your life.

We chose the arrow that led us to here.
One small gesture, one tiny book cover in our case, can indeed give us strength to do enormous things.

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5 Ways to Woo your Valentine – Day Four/Part Four

5 Ways to Woo your Valentine –
Day Four/Part Four

So, it’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
In fact, it’s the day before the big day of love. Number four of ways to Woo your Valentine is becoming One.

I wanted to talk about the best piece of advice my husband, Matthew, and I were given during our marriage preparation.

Before I reveal our secret – a word about our pre-marriage counselling.
It consisted of six weeks (felt like six years at the time) of wise counsel by a man, Matthew and I most deeply respect, the Pastor of our church we attended at the time.

He was one of those people who was softly spoken and slightly intimidating.
I felt he could penetrate to the very heart of my soul.
And read my mind at the same time.

We literally turned up each week to our sessions, in fear and trembling.
If I had a catholic faith as well, my prayer beads would have been tightly gripped in my sweaty, shaking hands and many hail Mary’s would have been fervently recited.

However, that pre-marriage torture was to become the corner-stone and reference point of our entire marriage to this day.

The words our Pastor shared with us and the prayers he spoke over us, were challenging but unforgettable.
We had no idea how many times over the course of our nearly 25 year marriage, we would reflect back on that training and wisdom.

I was merely 19 years old, when we sat before our Pastor, thinking we were just going through the motions to receive his blessing of marriage.
And whilst I knew Matthew was the man chosen for me by God, I was just a baby myself.
However, I can never thank our Pastor enough for being bold and real and for colouring our marriage in ways we have been endlessly thankful for over and over again.

Being One

He repeatedly told us we were to become One.
I’ll admit, I did think it was quite a religious thing to refer to (as in the Bible it says, ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one – Genesis 2:24).
It made me squirmy.
I wanted him to stop talking about becoming One.
I didn’t want to talk about sex with our Pastor!

We were to learn though, it went way beyond the physical side of our relationship.
We were to become partners in life.

He kept saying to us “you are no longer Matthew and Catherine.
You are to become one. A unit before God.
You must think as One and move forward as One.
Your new life will be as One. Don’t forget what you will become together”.

And in our times of conflict – of devastation and turmoil, as well as moments of blissful joy and pure happiness, we always reflect on those words – ‘we are One – we will always be one’.
As One we can face whatever lies before us and be thankful for the goodness of hope and happiness.
And brilliant pre-marriage counselling that made us squirm!

My encouragement to you today is to view your partnership in the same light.
I’m not saying – forget you have a personal identity.
I’m saying that the unique joining of you and your love, is a sacred love of forming a partnership of oneness.

It’s being with your soul mate, loving them and actually liking their company too.
Even when they (and you) are unlikeable.
Being One means together you can work out even the most difficult and stretching of situations.

Oneness when you are two.
Now there’s a thing that many couples may not have thought about.

But if you want a great marriage, no an incredibly wonderful, partnership flourish, try giving One was a go and watch your connection be coloured and grow in ways you could only dream of.

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Living the Dream Days.

Living the Dream Days.

‘I still remember the days I prayed for what I have now’
-Unknown

I was in the car, driving, the other day and a thought suddenly came to me.
I am living the dream days, the answer to many, many prayers, prayed years ago.
Whispered in my mind and softly under my tongue, daily.
Over and over and over again.

Whilst we were residing in Australia, we prayed specifically for big things.
Namely, finding a beautiful space to live in the English countryside – Tick.
To be able to experience different places and travel to Europe, often, – Tick.
For the children to settle and love their new home – Tick.
For me to settle in England and not want to return home to Australia – Big Tick.
To own chickens, have a large dog to run with and a few cats to be seen sleeping in the winter sunshine of my country cottage – Tick, Tick, Tick.

We hit five years in the UK this June.
I hope to become a British Citizen this year.
This is our forever home and we are so grateful for all of those whispered prayers years ago.
For they have been answered. In full.

But so very often, I fail to look back.
I fail to acknowledge all of those answers that were the big, big prayers of my life in the past.

You know, why?
Because I have new prayers. I want for new and different things. My prayers change. I don’t settle for those very important things because they are in the past.

And I don’t care very much for that trait in myself.
I know, I have a tendency to look forward, straining for the next thing.
I am learning to enjoy the now, but it is so not in my nature to do that.
Because I love a challenge, I love new horizons and change.
Which results in me not remembering the prayers of the days of past.
The important ones I am living now. Today.

For this new year, I resolve, to sit and just ‘be’ in the now.
To be so very thankful for the stunning view I wake to each morning.
The wildlife that surrounds me. The horses that graze in the fields.
The windmills we see in the distance and the white sails of yachts meandering through the broads, taking their time.

These are those days. Right now.

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Caution Strong Tides and Deep Water.

Caution Strong Tides and Deep Water.

The sign on the beach read, ‘Caution Strong Tides and Deep Water’. It brought back childhood memories.

As an Australian, I grew up in the heat and spent weekends on the hot and sandy beaches.
I knew I was safe if I swam between the two flags. Kept my eyes on the yellow and red lifeguards and didn’t get caught in a rip and be sucked out to sea.
Also I knew I had to keep checking that I could see the strong and tall outline of my Dad, who watched us from the shore like a hawk.

As long as I had eyes on him, I felt safe.
I was happy as long as all of my visuals were there. Protecting me and surrounding me with comfort.

What did unsettle me, was what couldn’t be seen.
When my feet didn’t touch the sandy base of the ocean floor, I would start to panic.
Nothing to anchor me, made me feel I would drift.
Drifting meant dangerous territory.
I didn’t like it when I saw dark shadows in the water. Visions of sharks and sting rays would assail me.
And I really felt frightened when I wasn’t able to swim to shore safely.
When the waves were too big and the swell underneath my body tore me away from safety instead of closer to it.

I feel the same way as an adult about life.
It’s what can’t be seen that scares me, more than what I can.

I feel this way when one of my children develop a rash.
It frightens me. What if it’s something really serious? What if it’s meningococcal meningitis? What if we don’t make it in time to medical help?
Or it might be when the bills are piling up and our account doesn’t have any secure padding.
That feeling of not touching the ocean floor creeps up on me. It’s uncomfortable. I worry.
I know that the tides are strong underneath my feet and there is a possibility of being dragged into unfamiliar territory.
And I lose focus of the shore, and the safety flags.
And my Dad.

Or do I?
Because even though my earthly Dad may not be standing on the sand, his eyes peeled on my form, my heavenly Father most certainly is.
His eyes never leave me. Even when I can’t see Him. He is there.
He knows exactly where those invisible rips are.
The dark places to avoid.
The times I need to hold my breath and swim to shore.
And the times I need to float on my back, like a starfish, and trust where the tides take me.

Today, I float.
My body unaware of the depth of the water beneath me.
My mind focussed on the figure standing at the shoreline.
The hope of my security.
Even when I can’t see him.

I know He is there.

 

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My Prayer for 2018.

My Prayer for 2018.

‘I do not wish to become someone new,
someone more.
Instead,
I seek to find comfort in the soft corners
of my soul that beckons and whisper,
“rest easy,
for you are already whole.’
Annon

If I had a specific prayer for 2018, it would be this one.

I have not the energy to become a different me, or reinvent myself into another.
There will be no wishing on my part to be thinner, more likeable or fit in with the crowd.

For the soft corners of my soul hold magical secrets.
Ones formed through 44 years of learning, failing and growing through pain.
Ones that whisper ‘you are enough’
You are more than enough.

Be still dear mind that is constantly on the move.
Be kind to the body that grew and birthed six children.
Grant yourself permission to slow down and not embrace busyness as a benchmark of your worth.
For worth isn’t to be found in doing stuff.

It is to be found in the beauty of a child’s simple wonder, the embrace of a friend and the affirmation of the one above who made and created me.

And that is enough.
More than enough.

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30 Days of 30 Blogs.


I love a fresh start.
Always have ever since I was a little girl.
I hope for change too and look forward to it.
Welcome it.
Often dreaming what could be on the horizon.

It’s no accident that our family have moved houses over 20 times and moved from Australia to England three times.
In fact, I have been granted so many visas in the UK, the immigration officer wagged his finger at me on arrival at Heathrow and sternly told me ‘this is your last chance Madam to stay in Britain!’ 🇬🇧

2017 is gone forever. 

For so many, our family included, it was a difficult year and not one I was sad to bid goodbye. 

And maybe the idea of new beginnings and fresh possibilities is the result of life feeling a little too pressured and the hope of the tides turning is sweet enough for now.
We wait.
We are expectant.

I adore quotes and this morning came across one that resonated.
From an unknown author it says:

Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be.
Every season serves a purpose’.

So we aim to remain thankful, grateful for all we do have and hopeful for all that isn’t. 

We do life as best we can.
We mother and love and forgive and pray.
We feed children and walk dogs and wash clothes.
We laugh and cry and keep our eyes on the One who truly holds our lives in His hands.

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Farther a Long Way I Will Be….

Farther a Long Way I Will Be….

My favourite tune at the moment is by Josh Garrels. Its called ‘Farther Along’ and you can listen to it here:It has a moody, contemplative feel to it, which I am loving at the moment.

Normally, I don’t listen to it whilst out running, as predictably, I find my pace slows down to a very chilled meander and instead of running, I end up swooshing autumn leaves with my feet and become distracted with chirping birds and feathered-tailed squirrels crossing the road.

In other words – it chills me out.
A lot.

In the first verse, the words are –
Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
So cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by.

I had a look at the lyrics and they struck me how true they are regarding hindsight in life.

Isn’t it always the way, that when we are in the middle of a difficult time or crisis, we truly can’t see the forrest from the trees.
It all seems a muddle and we can so easily lose perspective of our situation.
Hindsight is a gift.
Pure genius.
A reminder for us, I think, that we will understand it all, by and by.

One day.
But just not in the moment.

Because being in the moment hurts and at the end of the day, we just have to trust that even though tomorrow may not shine bright, the clouds will eventually pass and the sun will most definitely shine again.
On us.
Warming our souls.

As I was writing this, my husband came through the door with our labradoodle, Queenie.
Both of them covered in treacly, black mud and smelling quite literally of sewerage, after rescuing a tiny baby deer in the woods.
Halfway through the walk, my husband kept hearing frantic high pitched cries from the woodlands, the pitiful sounds becoming closer and closer as he walked deeper onto the forest floor.
What he found was a scared and frightened tiny baby deer, stuck quite firmly, bound in an electric fence and unable to free itself.

My husband tried his best to untangle the petrified deer, whilst the both of them were receiving numerous electric shocks from the fence.
Finally, the little deer was free from the fence.
Only to fall and sink into a dyke of quick sand.

So, again, into the dyke my husband went, also ending up at a frightening pace, knee-deep in the quicksand, whilst the panicked creature sank even further, the more it struggled.

Oh, be still little one!!
He is trying to help you.

Finally, in total desperation, for both their well beings, hubby gently took hold of the deer’s horns and pulled it out of the quicksand, pushing the little one into the safe cocoon of the forest floor.

Little one cried a few more times and then there was silence.
Then a different sound, rooted deep in maturity and power, from the bowels of the forrest. A long and loud call.
The call of a mother deer.
Who had found her baby.

This incident reminded me so much of being in the midst of trials.
Thrashing and stressing and feeling so very helpless.
Not able to keep ourselves still or be at peace and wait for the help.

The Helper.
Who always comes to rescue.
Who is always with us, despite our tears, pain and grief.
One who promises never to leave our side and whispers be still and know who I am.
One who bottles our tears and holds His ground.
Always.

We are always under His eye.

And as is so often the case, in hindsight, when we have passed through our difficulties, we look back and say,
During those times, when I felt so alone.
Actually I was carried.

The ending verse of Farther Along, says-

There’s much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold.
And shine like you, struck gold my wayward son.
That deadweight burden weighs a ton.
Go down to the river and let it run.
Wash away all the thing you’ve done.

Forgiveness, alright.

Hindsight should be re-named hang-in-there-sight.
Help is coming. 

The Helper is here.

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Feeling alone in a new world.

Feeling alone in a new world.

Quote – Maya Angelou
‘I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel’.

I heard a story the other day in church.
A girl in her teens became aware of an overseas mission trip to a third world country. The cost for the airfare was £375 exactly. She said to God, ‘If you want me to go you will have to give me the money’.
She then went about her day. And life.

Two days later, she received a cheque in the post.
It was from Inland Revenue.

For £375.

She went overseas and had a deeply spiritual, life-altering experience.
Whilst she was away, she had the impression, on many occasions, that she was to ring up Inland Revenue on her return and thank them for the money.
She really, really didn’t want to.
She argued to herself that it was actually her money in the first place!
And anyway, who would she even speak to? 

Still that inner voice didn’t go away.

Finally on her return to the UK, she felt that if she didn’t make that call, she was being disobedient to God.
So she picked up the phone and feeling quite silly, launched into her pre-prepared speech.

The lady who took her call was on the reception desk and listened to this young girl’s story of her prayer, the money arriving in the post, her amazing experience overseas and her feeling that she had to ring to thank the government for this amazing provision. Finally, she ended with this.
‘I just know that God is on our side. He fights for us. He hears our prayers. He has our back’.
On the other end of the phone, there was silence mingled with sniffing.
Confused, the young girl enquired if the receptionist was still there.
She replied.
‘Yes, I am. You wouldn’t have known this, but today I said to my colleague that I don’t think I can go on.
I am all alone.
My husband told me last night he wants a divorce.
My colleague said that God will always be with me, and I said to her, well if he doesn’t physically ring me today and tell me that, I will never believe there is a God who cares for little me’.

Apparently God even makes phone calls.

There are times in my life when I have felt very alone.
Moving from Australia to the UK no less than three times throughout our 24 year marriage, hasn’t been easy.
I have left my family, deep friendships and a rich history of relationships that have coloured my life and enabled me to become a stronger and more confident person.
I have left photo albums full of memories.
Times, places, experiences.
And the precious people who just ‘get me’.
When we left our home country, we also left all of those connections behind.

And as much as a new start is exciting and cathartic in many ways, it can be very isolating and lonely.
And it was during those moments for me, when the weather turned bleak and the sun literally didn’t shine for months, that I realised I actually wasn’t alone. Not really. I had my children and husband, of course, but I also had my faith.
And when I cried out to God the answer did come.

It wasn’t in replacing those friendships I was grieving, as they were irreplaceable.
Or filling my days with activity and purpose even. It was in the quiet and still moments that I knew I wasn’t on my own.

This came in such unexpected ways.
The call of a bird to its mate in the early morning mist.
Tiny snowdrops poking their tentative heads out of the wet soil after a long winter.
The amber warmth of a fire, whilst sipping on sweet hot chocolate and still-warm cookies from the oven.
The joy of choosing a fresh pine tree for Christmas and tying it to our car in the freezing winter air.
The reassuring warmth of a hug from a new friend.

My answer came through the acceptance of my circumstances and new life.
I was able to see the beauty of it all through fresh, unfiltered eyes and a grateful heart.
To create new traditions, which would one day fill even more album books with rich memories.
And gradually I began to love. No, adore what I saw. In this new world.
And the loneliness became less of a constant and more of a niggle.

Today, it is just a memory.

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