Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Time To Talk

I have been pondering about this post for some time now, not so much whether to make it but more what and how to say it. In fact I wasn't even sure what title to give it. For those who maybe reading this post or are new to my blog, I just need to let you know that my hubby (Harry) suffers from a Mental Illness of Chronic Depression. That means the depression is ongoing and/or permanent.

This morning as I watched Harry hanging out the first load of washing before I went to work I was touched and had to smile and thank God for this. At the moment Harry is off work because continuing where he was working was tough on him and his depression was becoming worse. At the advice from our family doctor, who had been managing the situation from a medical view over the six months before, Harry finally resigned. Harry had felt humiliated and continually picked on and bullied. Because his meds had been increased to almost the highest level, over the last few months, it was decided for his mental health, that it was better for him to leave, rather than run the risk of something drastic happening. (Harry has had suicidal attempts in the past)

What has made things a little different this time and so in time the outcome, was the recent suicide of a long-time friend. We knew this man had suffered from a mental illness that had developed over the 5 or 6 years before hand but we were not aware that things had got so bad.
Because people don’t talk about it, even the ones who need to.
At our friends funeral it was so upsetting to experience the complete anguish and devastation of his adult children and others close to him.
As usual there is the unanswerable questions of:
Why did he do it?
Why did he not tell anyone that was how he felt?
Why did we not notice?
We have made a promise that we will be more aware of those around us when it comes to mental health and make sure we talk if we see people struggling.

In life I have come to try and find something good in every situation no matter how bad it is. It’s like offering thanks and praise to God in all circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

For me it was the comments Harry made after the funeral. He said anyone who is thinking of ending their life needs to go to a funeral and see how it affects others. One of the thoughts a person has when they are that low is that they believe that others, even the ones that love them the most, will be much better off without them being there. It’s hard to comprehend but they think they are too much of a burden that they are of no benefit to anyone and a whole mixture of thoughts run through their head. The depression or mental illness they are struggling with will convince them that these thoughts are true.

A sufferer needs to be able to have the support to help them battle but until they are properly diagnosed or even recognise they have the illness the war can be lost. There are many ways and most of the time it will take a mixture of aids to help someone live as normal a life as they can. In most cases some form of medication is needed even if it is just in the short term to help them come to a place where other treatments can take benefit, while others will need medication for the life of the illness. I also believe that talking and being open about mental illness’s needs to be a top aid as well. The mind set I had, before I understood mental illness, that a person should just choose to be happy and all will be better, is quite naive. We don’t like to talk about it because we are scared of what to say or how to cope with the ‘victim’ or just generally to know or understand. So like many things it is education that needs to be had.

As I watched Harry this morning I was able to smile and thank God. Thank God that Harry is in control of his mental illness. Thank God that he has learnt from the experience of our friend that suicide is not an answer. Thank God that with my support he made the decision to leave a work situation that was extremely unhealthy for him. Thank God that although we are now on a sickness benefit and really struggling with finances we are getting by. Thank God that Harry has taken on jobs around the home to lighten the load for me and also that he is working hard all around the section.

At 63 in two months he still has two years before he can retire and so receive superannuation (which is higher than the sickness benefit) it is hard to know if he will be able to find employment when he is well. In the meantime he is using this time to make sure our gardens are producing food and the jobs that have been taking years to get done are slowly being ticked off the list.

So once more there is something to thank God for.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 “The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you     

  and give you peace.”

 2 Thessalonians 3:16 
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

God's Promise

This post may read like it’s a whole lot of bits and pieces but it has some “God Moments” in it. I will elaborate on areas in other posts as well.

For those of you who know us well on a day to day basis, will know that Harry is now on a sickness benefit. We have been in this place before and one thing I know God will bring us through. Harry had been struggling at work for some time – even a few years - but it was getting more and more unbearable for him. The foreman seemed to find it acceptable to constantly find fault in the things Harry did, but no-one else did. Even if Harry found a mistake in some other persons work it would somehow be twisted around to being Harry. Harry would come home from work most days feeling down and angry because of some of the things that had happened at work. He had a day when he was assaulted by a member of staff and that was when we talked about him finding something else. Over time nothing seemed to come up and although he applied for jobs and got a couple of interviews, most of the time there was no communication.

As the atmosphere at work grew more and more degrading for Harry and they started monitoring everything he did with weekly meetings, he became more and more humiliated. Because of Harry’s mental illness his doctor advised him, after increasing his medication to almost the highest amount, to leave for his own health and go on the sickness benefit. Even though I struggled with the whole aspect of "how are we going to live?" I supported Harry in the decision, above all else, for his mental health.

With the benefit being a low amount of money I knew it would be hard going but I believed we would get by, especially with me still working and if Harry helped with 'living off the land' at home.

It’s taken a month or so for Harry to recover from the low he had found himself in but he is now working around the section, clearing up years of mess and generally helping out. He’s planted our potatoes and dug and cleared garden for me. I planted some seeds today and harvested some carrots and silver beet for tea.

As a light rain fell I stood under a tree looking at the garden and thanked God for what we had. I too had been low over the winter months and not done a lot of gardening, but the little I had is now producing food for us to eat – right when we need it. I thanked God that he had kept it safe and grown through to harvest. I thanked God that there was still more coming on and that I was tending the plots alongside Harry.

As I came in from outside there was a huge rainbow out the front of the house, seemingly quite close. It was bright and complete with its own reflection above it. It made me smile as I see rainbows as a reminder of the promise from God to His people that He will never destroy them and the earth.

I was quite overwhelmed that in this time of thanking God He was showing me the reminder of His promise that all will be well.

Although life is going to be hard and a time of testing when we will call out to God, He will not let us be destroyed physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

Genesis 9:12-16

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'm Still Here


Yes I’m still here.

I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth or given up on the blog.

As I read over the last post I see I was struggling with growing old and here I am nearly a year on….. And yes I have grown a little older but part of me hopes a little wiser.
So much has happened over the last 11 months and I haven’t shared with you all but maybe that’s because only now have I come to realize what it was all about.

As I write this I am at home on sick leave for shingles. Now shingles is actually caused by the same virus as chickenpox (varicella zoster). After a bout of chickenpox (I climbed into bed with my sister when she had them, when we were young and I consequently got a good dose of it!) the virus lies latent in the nerve cells near the spinal cord. It remains there for life and can be reactivated at a later stage as shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox can go on to develop shingles. And they can get it a number of times. It’s not fully understood how it comes to the surface but emotional stress is a prime cause. I was feeling unwell, had sores on the side of my neck, ulcers in my mouth and headaches. So off to the doctor, who took one look at the sores, after telling him how I felt and he promptly said, “Shingles”. So now an antiviral dose of tablets, rest, and prayer and hopefully I will get better soon.

So what’s been going on you may well ask.
I have had some people including one of my daughters ask me if I had stopped blogging.
The answer to that is “No”
I just wasn’t sure what to write.

You see I have struggled a bit over time as things going on in my life weren’t what I had dreamed or hoped for. I thought I was not doing things right as a Mother, Nana and Wife. I had expectations on myself and everyone else to all form this nice little “picture” of family.

I even shared with my cherubs about how I was feeling wondering what was wrong and although it didn’t go down too well it was good that a whole lot of “stuff” came out that had to be dealt with. And so I grew, in that none of it could be molded into what I wanted, as everyone has their own life to live, but I really had no say in it. Now one isn’t to look at that in a negative way but in a positive way as it means that each person is growing into who they are meant to be created by God and not who I wanted to be created by “Mumsey.”

When I finally grasped that ‘who’ I was, and what relationships I had with my husband, children and grandchildren and not to compare this with others in their own unique families, I was free to see exactly what I did have.

And oh what a gift it all was and I was missing out on what I did have because I was feeling so sorry for myself thinking I didn’t have what other grandparents and parents had.

So I’m back, ready to share my insights, baking, gardening and general life bits and pieces so keep coming back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Old

I'm shocked when I look at pictures of myself because I see a grandmother and not a young wife and mother, like I was a good twenty years ago.

In fact, I see through my mind’s eye that woman of the past and when I look in the mirror, I want to look away quickly because I don’t like what I see or who I have become.

The lines are there, they could be squint lines, but I am trying to convince myself that they are actually smile lines around my eyes and mouth.

There are those nasty age spots appearing on my face and have done so for sometime now, on the backs of my hands. I thought only old people had them.

In fact the other day, when I glanced down at the hand holding the steering wheel, I sort of took a second look as I didn’t want to believe it was really my hand.

I wouldn't have plastic surgery or botox as that is just not really being the real me. So am I just living in a fantasy.

The weight has poured on over the last few years and I don’t seem to be able to shake it off. I try and lose a bit and then it all just comes back.

My body is not coping and so it is telling me by aches and pains, stiffness and swollen knees and ankles.


It’s really only me who can fix it.

I'm growing older, nearly reaching the three score birthday in a few years.

Life hasn't always turned out the way we had planned; there have been heartaches and sorrows, times when I have been in such a dark place I have felt very alone, and a lot more physical pain than I could have ever imagined living with - but always grace to choose joy in the midst of it.

This year there has been the arrival of yet another beautiful grandchild – we now are blessed with seven.

I have finally had some appointments at the hospital for tests but still there does not seem to be answers to all the questions of,
"Why do I feel so tired?"
"Why do I wake exhausted and with headaches most days?"
"Why does the weight just keep coming on all the time?"
"Why doesn't my sinus ever dry up?"
and just generally troubled with the way my body is becoming.

Even if I don’t eat much in a day for days on end the weight doesn’t budge.
To walk now requires support stockings and lots of pain relief beforehand and a ready supply through the night and the next day as well as anti-inflammatory tablets.
I have a daily nasal wash and a nasal spray as well as antihistamines.

And now I am on tablets to reduce my blood pressure.....

I don't know all the answers, only the questions, lots and lots of questions.

But I know who holds the future, and who knows what the answers to the questions are, and so I continue to trust, that even with each passing year, my heavenly Father has already worked it all out for me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin-Raisin Tea-bread (Or Muffins)

I love pumpkin and I have finally got my hubby to decide its not so bad after all, especially when it is roasted.
How ever if you grow pumpkins, (which we often do, by accident you know ... the seeds just sprout from the compost or an old hen run) what do you do with all that pumpkin once you have cut into it?

As long as you take the seeds out you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for quite a while. You can also de-seed it (making sure you have scraped out all the soft stringy center) and then if you cut it into serve-size pieces, you can freeze it without having to blanch it. Great for just grabbing a few and throwing them into the roasting pan with other roast veges and they only take about half an hour.

Another way is to use some in baking.

You first need to make some pumpkin puree. I just simply bake it in the oven in large hunks that have been de-seeded but not even peeled while cooking something else. (like a roast or casserole in a separate pan.)
Once cooled you peel the skin off and then can either puree it straight away or store it in the fridge for a few days.
I then puree it in my kitchen whiz (food processor).
You can use it for baking or either freeze it or store in the fridge for a few more days until you are ready to bake. In airtight containers.

This recipe can be made as a tea-bread or muffins and is lovely and moist.

1 cup caster sugar
125gr butter
2 large eggs
1 cup (250gr) cooked, pureed pumpkin (about 400gr raw)
Grated rind of 2 oranges
1 tsp vanilla essence
⅓ cup (60gr) raisins
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line a 23 x 12 cm loaf tin.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and creamy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time and then gently beat in the pumpkin puree, orange rind and vanilla essence until just combined.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger and nutmeg and fold in with a wooden spoon (do not beat).
Gently stir in the raisins.
Spoon mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
Bake for I hour until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Transfer the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before turning out on the rack to cool completely.

This mixture can be made into muffins…

Preheat the oven to 200 °C
Grease or line with paper cases, a twelve hole muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, grated rind and raisins together.
In a separate container melt the butter and beat in the eggs.
Then using a folk, beat in the pumpkin puree and vanilla essence.
Fold wet mixture into dry ingredients until a lumpy texture (Do not over mix)
Spoon mixture into the muffin tins/cases.
Bake for 15 mins or until golden and cooked through.

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Airport Trip With Nana

Jennifer was off to Christchurch for some work training so I was asked and willingly took up the request to look after her two adorable children until her hubby got home from work. She had said she would take a taxi to the airport but I thought it would be good for us all to go and see some aeroplanes and wave good-bye to Mummy as she flew out.

Waiting for Natalie to wake from her afternoon nap, Jacob had a few last snuggles with mummy and then we woke Natalie and she greeted me with some sweet smiles. It’s always something special when grandchildren become old enough to greet your sudden arrival or being there when they wake, with smiles or cuddles knowing that you are someone special in their family.

So we loaded the car seats into the back of the car, buckled the children in and off we went in the rain.

Once we arrived Jennifer set to checking her bag in and herself for a seat with one of her colleagues helping her at the self-check stands. The bag was then put on the conveyor belt next to one of the check in staff and one wonders why you would want to just use a machine instead of the pleasant check in stewards and so miss the personal touch and conversation.

There were plenty of ride-on coin machines to distract the children but after a quick try-out we went upstairs to settle in to aeroplane spotting.

Armed with snacks the children checked out the airport view windows and moved some square seats around for use as tumble blocks, seats, resting spots and height increasing props.

And then the call came out for Jennifer to board her plane. She hugged and kissed and waved to the children who seemed quite happy to send Mum off. 

I wondered how much they really understood.

We waited at the window and watched for her to emerge with others to walk the short distance to the boarding steps to the plane. She looked up and waved a couple of times and then seemed to be swallowed into the plane.

It seems forever when you wait but we waited patiently for the plane to do its thing and take off. There was even time for a starling (or maybe it was a blackbird) to have a little check out of the plane.

Finally, after a little plane was allowed to fly off first, her plane started up and headed out down the run way.

Jacob and Natalie hung from the window frames watching the plane taxi out and then almost disappeared off the end of the runway, but we could just see it turn and rev up its engines.

Then, although we couldn’t hear - you knew - that it took off with full power, throwing all its passengers back into their seats as it roared down the runway and launched itself in the sky at speed. Once airborne it seemed to slowly ascend and out of sight as it headed south to its destination.

I was unsure if the children really understood what had happened and that mum was in there and would be landing later that evening to begin a few days away, but soon returning after two “sleeps”. But as the saying goes out of sight - out of mind...

... They were soon distracted by all the slot games and activities and though we didn’t spend any money they were happy to play and ‘pretend’ they were shooting, driving and generally winning games.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would be able to draw them away but eventually they came with me back to the car and home to their place.

When I visited a few days later Jacob asked me
“Guess how Mummy came home?”
I answered, “In another plane.”
“No”, he replied “She came in a taxi”
Oh the simplicity of a child’s thinking.

After I had helped put the children to bed the first night and come all the way home, I was just jotting down in my diary what I had done that day and recorded “Took Jennifer to the airport….” And I suddenly thought ‘car-seats’. Hmm I don’t remember taking out the car seats. Sure enough I looked out the window in to the dark and saw that the seats were still in the back of my car…here in Tirau. Even though Jason and I had stood there discussing the dent in the front of my bumper that some angry man had kicked in we had never noticed the car seats.
So it was another trip to Hamilton to return them as they were needed the next morning.
I was able to climb into bed that night shortly after midnight!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Girly Grey Cardigan

A request for something with silver in for all the girly things little girls wear had me looking hard for something to edge a basic grey cardigan Sarah had asked me to knit for her Evelyn.

We needed it to be something easy to wash so I chose an acrylic from Spotlight - 4 Seasons Marvel 8 Ply Yarn Light 100 g in grey. But the silver trim was a bit harder to find . In the end I just used DMC Perle Metallic Thread in silver as I just was using it around the edges and crocheting it rather than knitting with it. I used to lengths of it to make it thick enough to match the thickness of the wool I had used.

I had numerous patterns from my collection so was able to find a basic drop should cardigan pattern in double knit and the size I needed.

Some time ago Jennifer had given me a huge collection of buttons she had been passed on from an elderly lady and I had fun finding a set of silver buttons to match.

I wasn't completely happy with the way the silver thread 'sat' once crocheted but I'm hoping it will be better after a few washes and being acrylic it can be done in the machine rather than hand washing.

And Evelyn seemed pretty pleased with the end result which is good as she had mentioned to me, one time I had visited, that she couldn't wait for her knitting to be done! Something a Nana quiet likes to hear.

It maybe a little big but that allows for growth and also the chance of it lasting more than one years worth of seasons