Thursday, December 29, 2016

Change the Thinking

So once again Christmas has come and gone with all the hype and build up, the worry and the joy, the mystery and surprises. What you did in preparation and what you didn’t, really doesn’t matter now as (using the words from the Lion King) “It’s in the past”.

It would seem that so often we allow what goes on around us and the demands and expectations of the media or others, dictate our thoughts and actions whether we want it to or not. The desire to ‘please’ can sap the very joy we want to portray, from us. Even without realising it these outside forces and the news we hear over the days around Christmas will control our very mood if we are not aware this is what is actually happening. Without us realizing it we are propelled into action or reaction and before we know it we are caught up and what is normal for us has gone out the window, so to speak.

When the guests are gone, half the decorations have fallen down and the fridge is still crammed with left overs you are brought to your senses and desire to get back what you had control of in the past. You desire to have the joy and contentment that you treasured. Or maybe you haven’t felt that joy and long to know it.

In reflection I was reading from my book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I hadn’t picked it up for a few days and this day 28th December I read….

I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present Help in trouble. Therefore, you don’t need to be afraid of anything – not even cataclysmic circumstances. The media are increasingly devoted to fear-inducing subject matter: terrorism, serial killers, environmental catastrophes. If you focus on such dangers and forget that I am your Refuge in all circumstances, you will become increasingly fearful. Every day I manifest My grace in countless places and situations, but the media take no notice. I shower not only blessings but also outright miracles on your planet. 
As you grow closer to Me, I open your eyes to see more and more of My Presence all around you Things that most people hardly notice, like shifting shades of sunlight, fill you with heart-bursting Joy. You have eyes that see and ears that hear, so proclaim My abiding Presence in the world.

Psalm 46:1-3 
1 God is our refuge and strength, 
 an ever-present help in trouble. 
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way 
 and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
3 though its waters roar and foam 
 and the mountains quake with their surging. 

Psalm 89:15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

The news seems to be filling of famous people dying. Looking back over the past year with all its earthquakes, floods and killings and I did wonder where the news of God’s work was.

I follow the blog Club Organized by Pam Young and one of her recent posts had a similar theme in that she talked about our moods being influenced by the things going on around us. How we can get in the habit of being in a bad mood with a bad thought and feeding it with negative thoughts.

So what can we do…

Take a deep breath and sit. Be in a place where you can see the beauty of God’s creation around you. By a window or out on a deck. If you are in the northern hemisphere by a burning fire or under a cosy rug. Take a note of the quiet sounds around you and find something to smile about. Close your eyes and allow it to be a focus in your mind. Be thankful for it and see if you can find a couple more things to be thankful for. Allow yourself to take control of your breathing and slow it down. Maybe even go for a walk and go to an area where you will not be distracted by traffic, shops or other people. Slow your walk pace and take note of God’s creation as you pass. In this time let the negatives go from your thoughts and grab hold of a positive, a blessing, of someone you love.

As you allow your mind and thoughts to be transferred from the negative to the positive take it slowly to get back into what needs to be done around you and know that God is good. He showers us with blessings every day but we just have to recognise them and allow them to be the influence of how we feel and act.

Christmas is really about love, joy and peace – let the peace of God be with you always from this day on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Quiet

Did you know it now costs a dollar to send a letter in New Zealand and I’m not sure how much for overseas. I usually send about a dozen Christmas Cards around New Zealand – that’s $12 not to mention the ten or so I post overseas … that’s a lot of money when you are on a sickness benefit.

There are lots of things to do…
Lots of cards to send.
Lots of presents to buy.
Lots of baking to do.
Lots of decorations to put up.
Lots of activities to attend.
Lots of presents to wrap.
Lots of food to eat.
Lots of extra work to attend to.
Lots of…. Lots of…. Lots of….

Do you feel like this and almost overwhelmed?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this. I love Christmas and do what I can to make it a wonderful time of year. In fact this year is going to be so special, as I have two of my daughters and their families coming to stay so we are going to have grandchildren around and the house will be fill of excited children, chatter, maybe even tired tears but oh so many good memories to make. I know when it is all over I will be happily exhausted!

Tricia Goyer
Last week we had our Church’s Women’s homegroup Christmas lunch (that’s a mouthful!) and I offered to do the devotion. I have a devotional book titled The One Year® Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer and I recalled reading an entry for the middle of December. I am drawn to the simple ways of the Amish free from the demands of materialism and although the book is American/Northern Hemisphere based, the content it still uplifting.

Here is a little of what it said:

"These days there is more than enough Christmas cheer to go around. There are holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and children’s programs. There are gifts to buy, and maybe cards to mail and homes to decorate as bright and beautiful as the magazine covers on the rack at the grocery store. Yet there is little peace. And on some busy, frantic holidays I’m certain that I’ve forgotten that the whole thing is supposed to be about the Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, 
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the Amish home, preparations for Christmas start a few days (not a few months) before the holiday. If gifts are given, they are simple gifts for the children, there is often an Amish school Christmas program that focuses on Christ. In fact, in a book for Amish schoolteachers a new verse to the familiar carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was added:

O little In of Bethlehem
How like we are to you;
Our lives are crowded to the brim
With this and that to do
We’re not unfriendly to the King,
We mean well without doubt;
We have no hostile feelings,
We merely crowd Him out.

It seems even the youngest Amish children know what Prince needs to reign in their Christmas! Can you make an effort to remember the same?"

When I was putting up my Christmas Trees I was listening to one of my Cliff Richard's Christmas CD’s and a song came on “Christmas is Quiet”

As I listened I was drawn to the thought of escaping away somewhere to stop and reflect. Over the last few years I have made a point of having a break away either at a retreat or somewhere where I can have a couple of days resting without having to do all the work, in November. It’s something I learnt to do after my breakdown – part of looking after myself. The days in December have fast filled up with all those things to do and I have circled a day on the calendar and called it “Day Off”. I am not going to do any ‘work’ work or Christmas prep. There are no activities to attend. I am going to use the day to sit and read, pamper myself and maybe do some gardening or generally just sit.

I encouraged the group to do the same and ended with the prayer from the book:

"Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for my busy plans that tend to push You out. Help me to focus my thoughts on You today. It is there that I will find peace."

I encourage you to take time out and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas ... that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us so our sin will not separate us from Him. We celebrate His birth each Christmas.

I wish you a Christmas full of Peace.

Scripture from the New International Version 

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 may be 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.