Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Blessings in nature

Every day last week I went for a walk. I came across such beauty and it made me realise how blessed I was. Firstly because I live in such a beautiful location but because I am able to get out and about and go for a walk and able to enjoy the gorgeous spring flowers.  There are many people who are restricted to their homes due to disability, or illness, live in nursing home due to old age or are currently in hospital and are not able to freely go outside and enjoy their neighbourhood. 

I can, but I forget to say thankyou for such a wonderful blessing. 

Today I want to share with you some of the beauty I see on my walks. Spring is a wonderful season and I came across so many flowers that are such a joy to look at. 

Just look at the pretty pinks that God has created in nature. So feminine and delicate. 

Being able to walk without pain is something many of us enjoy but take for granted and not realise what a wonderful blessing it is. I like to walk to keep fit and to help in weight reduction, many ladies are restricted in their walking and I am sure would love to be able to do what I can do each day. For this reason alone I need to be thankful that I can.  

Sunshine is so good for our minds and bodies. Whilst I live in a very sunny country, we have high levels of vitamin D deficiency because people are too busy to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Sadly, many women are too busy to take 30 minutes out of each day to go for a walk — a walk that provides pleasure, healthiness, relaxation, calmness to the soul and makes a person happy. How can you walk past these flowers and not feel happy!  

When people do walk, they don't take the time to LOOK. Sadly, women rush about in their day and forget to SEE what is around them. I always walk with my iPhone, not for the phone, but for the camera. I am one of those people who like to stop and take photos of all the beauty I find and even on a 30 minute walk I can find a lot to photograph. 

The other nice thing about walks is the birds, I often see birds flying about or just being able to listen to their song. Once again, the ability to see and hear is something we take for granted when we shouldn't. A world with no sounds or one that is dark is something I couldn't imagine, but many people live like this and are still very grateful. Having sight and hearing is certainly a huge blessing. 

My son, brother and uncle are all colourblind and cannot see the full spectrum of colours that I can see. What a blessing to be able to see such rich colours that God has placed in nature and there is no shortage of colours, such as these beautiful yellows and oranges. 

The shrub below smelt lovely and was a privilege to be able to smell it. I have a friend who cannot smell, so she has no idea what a rose smells like, or the arrival of spring, the smell of cut grass or even the smell of a freshly bathed baby. Not being able to smell means she cannot quickly determine if her dinner is burning or the smell of fire. Not being to smell does mean missing out on some of the joys of life, but also being aware of dangers.  And the lack of smell affects taste so she doesn't get the full pleasure of food as a result. Another blessing to remember. 

Now that the weather is warming, my husband and I like to go for a walk in the evenings. I love walking at this time of the day when the sun is sinking in the sky and creates different lights on the landscape. It is also a nice to time to check out other people's gardens, not to be noisy but to look at their gardens and enjoy their work. 

And finally a look across to the mountains in the distances. This isn't very far from where we live and aren't we blessed to have such lovely places to walk each day. Something I need to remind myself of often.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The gift and the jewel

At 92 Wanda wrote this beautiful poem about ageing and hope and where our focus should be throughout our lives. So whilst your wrinkles increase and grey hair appear and walking becomes more painful — just remember, it isn’t about the gift wrapping at all. Thanks Clara for sharing this with me :)

The gift and the jewel by Wanda B Goines

I looked in the mirror and what did I see?
But a little old lady peering back at me
With bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair
And I asked my reflection, how did you get there?

You once were straight and vigorous
And now you’re stooped and weak
When I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique
My reflection’s eyes twinkled and she solemnly replied.

You’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside
A living gem and precious of unimagined worth
Unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth

The years that spoil your gift wrap with other things more cruel
Should purify and strengthen and polish up that jewel


So focus your attention on the inside, not the out
On being kinder, wiser, more content and more devout
Then when your gift wrap’s stripped away
Your jewel will be set free, to radiate God’s glory throughout eternity!


Below is a Youtube of Wanda reading her poem, it is very touching.

Painting: Balthasar Denner (German artist, 1685-1749) Portrait of an old woman c. 1720

Monday, October 5, 2015

Just keep breathing

Being a mother is hard work. 

"a mother thinks about her children day and night, 
even if they are not with her and will love them
 in a way they will never understand"

You will rarely meet a mother who says that bringing up a child is simple and easy. In fact I don't think I have ever met such a woman.  

Motherhood doesn't come with a neat little instruction manual and many mothers struggle to find their way and are forever worrying that they aren't getting it right.

Every mother feels that they could have done a better job and in reality, perhaps we could have — but the fact is, we all do the very best we can under the circumstances, we are not perfect and we shouldn't be so tough on ourselves.

It is perfectly ok as a mother to say that it is tough.

It is fine to say that you need a break.

That you want to cry . . . or scream from the roof top.

That it hurts and the pain can be too much at times and you would love to walk away from it all.

. . . I have been in that situation and I am certainly not alone. It doesn't mean I don't love my children, it just means I am human and finding it all too hard. 

Don't be afraid of being honest — some mothers put on a brave face because they don't want to be seen as failures. Motherhood is a lifetime commitment, a calling (not a phrase I am fond of) but that doesn't mean it is going to be a easy journey — no journey in life is. 

We need to be honest and not pretend that motherhood is a bed of roses as in reality it is not.  We should share our fears and worries, we should not bottle up our tears and anxieties and there is nothing wrong in wanting a break some days. 

As mothers we will have wonderful days, silly days, days full of laughter, terrible days, days of panic, frustration, tears, days when it is all too much . . .

. . . and days that are just perfect that we wish would go on forever and ever. . .

Motherhood takes us through every emotion whether we like it or not.

"Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed" (Linda Wooten)

How we mother may be different: some are very strict, others more laid back, some are helicopter mothers, others allow much more freedom. Some mothers work, others are at home, some do not have a husband, others do. No matter how different we all are — we all have one purpose, to care for our children the best we can. Teach them, discipline them, train them, nurture and comfort them, love them, encourage them and make sure they know that whatever they do, we will always be there for them.

We are the one person that that our children will rely upon and no matter how we feel, we cannot walk away or desert them which is why the role of motherhood is so important and why we as mothers need to be supportive of other mothers. 

We need to be ready to listen, to give a helping hand, to reach out when others are struggling, be a shoulder to cry on, arms for comfort, offer encouragement and we need to be there to share the joy.

Motherhood may be tough, but there are many many moments of shear bliss and joy.

Motherhood is not something that ends in a few years. Even though both my sons are now in their 20's and one is married, my role as mother is far from over. Sometimes I think that the last few years have been the toughest of them all. There certainly have been times when I have doubted my own strength and ability, when I wish I lived alone with four cats and had never had children. Of course, that isn't really true — but occasionally it can feel all too much to carry on.

I have four pieces of advice for mothers: 

1. Never give up

2. Just keep breathing

3. Don't forget to laugh (daily)


4. Pray— asking God for His wisdom, care, tender love and holding your hand though every moment. Spent time with God daily asking for His advise on all things regarding your children, it does make a huge differences and gives you the strength you need when things become difficult.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

 Philippians 4:6

Friday, October 2, 2015

Art Friday: Johann Georg von Meyer Bremen

Artist: Johann Georg von Meyer Bremen

German artist (1813-1886)

I think you will love these, the children are painted with such tenderness and I love the mother and baby scenes. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why children need friends


Childhood friends are very important. 

I am not referring to long distances friends (such as pen-pals) that one hardly ever meets, but real face to face friends that children can play with, dream up games with, share secrets, enjoy sleepovers with and support each other when feeling sad and share the joys of life. 

We ALL need friends to confide in. 

 And to learn about friendship and why it is important, children need to have friends of their own from a early age (and I am not referring to siblings). 

My dad and I were talking about the importances of friends and my dad made a comment that he never had any childhood friends and it still made him sad even at the age of 80. He wishes he had friends and says that the lack of friends as a child made making friends as an adult much more difficult. It also meant that he went through his growing up years and adulthood (including loosing his mother) without someone to share that journey with and we all need this, even if at the time we don't realise it. 

I had a few childhood friends, not a lot and several I am still very close too. I look back on these friendships with great fondness and nostalgia and so pleased that my parents encouraged these friendships and understood the importances of them. 

The relationship we have with friends is different to the relationship we have with our siblings and cousins. Our sibling relationship is much more intimate and deep and whilst this is very important, those people who lack friends outside of the family circle generally say that they miss the relationship that one has with close friends. 

Like most people, I have several layers of friends:

* I have very close (intimate) friends that know lots about me (some of these I am related to)—this group is very important and are the ones that I rely on the most and I know will pray during difficult times and share the joy of the great times. They know when to hug, listen, have a shoulder to cry on — they understand me. These are the most important group of friends and ones I couldn't do with out. 

* I have other friends that are close but not as intimate but do know some of my story but not everything. These are lovely friends, some I go to book-club with, to the theatre or out for afternoon tea. Also important and necessary. 

* Then I have friends further out from the circle that are great, lots of fun who I catch up with for chats and whilst we are supportive of each other we haven't shared much of our intimate story with each other. 

Each level of my circle is important and I need them all as they are the cogs that keep me healthy and stop the loneliness that all people have when they lack friends. Of course, my friendships work both ways — my friends keep me healthy and I hope that I keep them healthy. 

The fact that I can build a complex layer of friends is because I learnt at an early age how to make friends and understand the layers of friendship. This doesn't happen overnight it occurs as we grow up which is why having friend is important and why teaching our children the importances of friendships is necessary. 

Friends help us to build important skills in a supportive manner — they can take us out of our shells  and help develop the ability to interact with others — this is important later in life when one has to work and interact with others in society. Remember, humans were never designed to hide away from other humans — we need to be able interact with others and this interaction is in fact very important for our overall wellbeing.  

Friends support us through the tough moments in life — even for young friends this is still important. Friends are fun just to fool about with and laugh and we know that laughter is really good for us. Friend give us a reality check — they bring us back to earth if we are too bossy, rude or silly. 

Friends reduce loneliness and loneliness is never good and with growing numbers of young people suffering from depression and anxiety — friends, those that are more than casual friends, are vital in a young person's life, especially for boys. 

I know parents worry about the friends their children have and whether or not they pass approval which is why parents need to understand why friends are important and to make the effort to make sure their children have friends outside of the home. Yes, be vigilant (and search out Christian friendships) but not to the point where your children simply don't have any friends because none match up to your expectations. 

You only need to look at cats and dogs to understand that even they do not like loneliness and dogs in particular love to play and romp with a bunch of other dogs. 

You need friends, your children need friends — it is bond that has been occurring for centuries but sadly in recent decades we are seeing a decline, particular due to technology, but also to parental worry. 

In the end the children will suffer as friendships are important in all parts of our lives, from the very young to the old. Please don't let your children reach 80 (like my dad) and feel very sad that they never had childhood friends. The thought make me feel sad. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The last of my holiday photos

Here are the last of my holiday photos which I hope you have enjoyed.  

I love the meekacats — but they bite and not good as pets!! 
The giraffes gave us lots of joy and on the second day, Miss Five and I got to feed them which was lots of fun. 
The best way to carry a friend!! We had to keep a watchful eye on Woofie incase he accidentally fell out :)
Sometimes a dead tree is far more exciting that zoo animals!!
Shhh, I'm sleeping.
Miss Five giving me a big grin. The children learnt so much on this trip — and had a great time doing it!! 
This bird was particularly interested in his/her own reflection!
The park where we stayed, very pleasant.
What a handsome bird
Looking through the ferns at the afternoon light. Miss Five and I thought it was rather nice. 


Monday, September 28, 2015

Counting your blessings

Count all your blessings,
each and every blessed one
add them all together
and be grateful for the sum.

House to clean, floors to wash = a place to live
Laundry to wash, pile of ironing = clothes to wear
Dirty dishes = food to eat
Books around the house = have the ability to read
Shopping to do = money to use
Toilets to clean = indoor plumbing
Lots of laughter = happy healthy children
Endless questions = children wanting to learn
A bed to make = a cosy place to rest at night
Crumbs under the table = family meals
Power bills = electricity to the home
Cold water and fresh food = refrigerator 
Pay taxes =  have a job
A lawn that needs mowing =  have a garden to grow things in
Complaining about government = a free country that allows freedom of speech
Medicine in the cupboard = access to doctors, chemists when sick
Talk about God with others = freedom of religion
Going to bed tired = I am alive

There are so many things to be thankful for BUT we simply forget — we take every day things for granted and forget that for many they do not exist. 

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a cosy place to sleep — you are richer than 75% of the worlds population. 

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet and have some spare you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. 

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the many many who did not survive this week. And if you do get sick, a doctor and hospital are with easy reach and they have all the latest medicines and technology. And your children are highly unlikely to die from preventable diseases because they have access to high quality sanitation, drinkable water, medicines.

The fact that your baby was born safely and you are alive means you have access to hospitals and good health care, many do not and mothers and babies die.  

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture or the horrible pangs of starvation — you are more fortunate than the 500 million people suffering.

If you can read and write you are more fortunate than the millions who can not. 

Look around you— you are truly blessed, far beyond what you think.

Be content with what you have, find joy in those around you, be thankful that you neighbourhood is quiet and free from danger, stop getting anxious about nothing — we are so fortunate — we are blessed. 

Count your blessings, each and every one. 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

(Psalm 100:4)



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