There is joy in that roller coaster of life! Really? Really! A timely ‘Message’.

Over the last year I have been on a real roller coaster. Counseling can lead to a variety of emotions. Tears. Laughter. Puzzlement. Frustration. The whole exploration of where you are at, where you have been, and where you would like to go, unearth all sorts. But once you are on track, the tears slow down, the laughter increases, and the puzzlement and frustration…. well they develop into proper questions that can be answered. It isn’t an easy process and it certainly isn’t a quick process. It is a worthwhile process. A transforming process. Transforming in what way?

For me, it means I no longer hide away. No longer cry at the drop of a hat. No longer question why all the time. No longer worry about things deeply. Yes I have my moments. Life is like that. Up and down. But the ups out weigh the downs. Laughter is high in our house now. Yes we used to laugh. You can laugh with your voice, but not with your heart. The laughter never quite reaches your eyes. When it does, it is there for everyone to see. The twinkle. The glint. The noise!!!! The cackle! The tittering! Just writing about it makes me smile! A smile that comes easily. A smile that means something. Not just to me. To everyone I meet. Sit with. Chat to. A smile that just says ‘hello’! That is infectious. Smile at someone and they will nearly always smile back!

The transformation goes further than that though. When you have a faith that means something to you …. really means something, it is important to keep that in the mix of everything you do. Being a Christian is so important to me that I knew I needed to have my faith  and my LORD in the counseling room with me. It can never be swept under the carpet. Into a cupboard. Out the window. It has to be there. So it was important to me to have a Christian counselor. Someone who understood where I was coming from. Someone who could share my faith. Explore my feelings in a Christian way. God guided me to a wonderful counselor, who did understand me and where I was coming from. At no time did my faith disappear! And because of that, it allowed my LORD to be in the mix. To help. To guide. To heal.

This weekend I had a wobble. Not just a wibble. A WOBBLE!!! Tears. Puzzlement. Frustration. The lot. Something happened that I just hadn’t seen coming at all. I had been so at peace about the situation. So calm and positive, that when the opposite happened, well ……… The wobble stayed with me for what remained of the rest of the day. Not full blown. Just little bits. I knew what I had to do. And I tried. Boy did I try! I tried to change my perspective. But like in the roller coaster where you cruise down to a level before turning or rising again, the wobble jiggled. Shook. Turned round a sharp bend and came whop-sided. Perspective. Focus. Joy. Repeat.

Joy? Joy in a wobble? Yes. That is one of the coping mechanisms I use. A mechanism given by the LORD. A mechanism given for us all to use. It is there. Written in His Word. Going through trials with Him. God is so timely with His Word. He puts it to the fore. A little bit of scripture expounded to remind you what to do. The message on Sunday was taken from James. Now I studied James back in the summer. I studied it at a critical point in my healing. It helped me to refocus. To see past what I was, had been going through. To put the joy into my struggles and come out the other end. To give me the endurance to complete the trial and grow in my faith. To give me the endurance to allow God to work within me. Building me. Maturing me. Transforming me.

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1

He gave me the mechanism to see past my trials. To see through the fog. To refocus and gain a new perspective. To focus on His joy. His strength. The joy of knowing He is in control. He has it all covered. I am in His plan and His plan needs to work. Despite the wobbles, He is there steadying. Part of His plan. Guiding. Part of His plan. Holding my hand – and He has done a lot of that this year! Part of His plan. Drawing me closer. Closer to Him. Part of his plan. Finishing the work He has to do, if I let Him.

So this weekend, when I wobbled. I eventually stopped.The momentum of wobbling takes a while to stop! I stopped to refocus. To gain a new perspective. To let Him continue the work. His plan. To let Him take control again.  And to move on. Not alone, but holding His hand…… again! And building in His joy. The blessing He is giving me. His strength. His plan.

The joy of the LORD is my strength. The joy of the LORD is my strength. In the darkness I’ll dance, in the shadows I’ll sing. The joy of the LORD is my strength.  Rend Collective.

 

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The passions continue!

For those of you who love textiles like me, one or two more pictures! Firstly, the last of the tassels….

Textiles in paint. Such fine brush work…

And of course there had to be a bit of patchwork…

…and paisley swirls!! Passions!

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Dunster Castle and a little look around!

When you go to an historic house what do you go to see? The pictures? The room settings? The history that the rooms are oozing? We all have our reasons to wander a round. Wander and gaze. Wander and imagine. Wander and build up the stories to go with what we see. The lady descending the stairs. Graceful. Swishing down each step. Skirts long. Skirts of taffeta. Skirts of silk……. Yes , I’m a wanderer who builds up stories as I go. But I’m also a wanderer who seeks out the silks and cottons in other ways. So while others are taking pictures of the great artists, I’m on my knees peering around the corner of a sofa…

Or finding that angle looking up at a curtain, or the way it puddles on the floor…

Or noticing the bell pull in a bedroom…

And then there are the atmospheric shots. Those where the light is subdued. Subdued not for the likes of me and my camera. Subdued to protect. To make sure the sun isn’t too harsh. Too harsh that it frays the threads. But, this is what I see…

The highlights on the curve. The shadows on the netting. Love it! Textures. The bumps. The hollows. The ins and outs! Love them all! And something else I love and have always loved…. tassels! I have pictures of them from Chatsworth and many other Country Houses. I have made them. Used them as a quilting pattern. Studied their history to help with a City and Guilds certificate. Drawn them. Painted them….. and…. and….

Yes, I am sure I will find them in many other places too!

 

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Through the countryside – all aboard!

From Minehead t0 Bishop Lydeard via……..

Yes, that’s right – an American train on the West Somerset Railway!

Dunster and the way took us by the sea.

A little station with some lovely old trucks and wagons.

Next stop….

Well, it’s all about the steam…

And then a couple of little stops. Great names!

An hour and three quarter ride brought us to the end of the line. Time to wile away the hour before jumping on again!

What did we do in the hour? Well……

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Time for Changes.

We’ve been out and about again. Somewhere by the sea. Somewhere near a railway. Somewhere with some history. Somewhere with unusual things to try. But, somewhere to relax as a family. We don’t get to do many things as a family, so this opportunity to relax altogether was a ‘must’!

A tiny little cottage. A row of cottages with paths leading round connecting them all. For 300 years the little cottage has stood. Perhaps not quite in the form we enjoyed, but it’s thick walls, and it’s quirky stairs, and it’s character have stood the test of time. And that is what this holiday did. It took us back in time, but then helped us to move forward. With railways, castles, seasides, and memories. With laughter, jokes, and ‘remember whens’. Building new times. Things to remember again further down life’s time line.

T

Time is all a round. Our lives are run by it. A time to get up. A time to work. A time to rest. A time to be with friends. A time to be with family. Routines. Comforting. Familiar. So when they change…. you just have to embrace the change and go with it.

This holiday was different to the flat of sunbeams. Different, in that we weren’t high in the sky. Different, in that there were three of us. A lot slower. Calmer. No view to stare out of the window at with thoughts to ponder. Just a pretty little garden – slightly overgrown, to touch and feel. A book to read. In fact I read nearly three!! Three in one week! The first three books of the year! Another sign of change. Conversation. Chats. Silences. All three comfortable. Another sign of change. Smiles. Grins. Laughter. Yes, another sign of change.

It has been a long year. For all of us in different ways. But mostly for me. I have changed. Changed for the good. A real roller coaster of a change, and at the time of the ups and downs, one I would have run a mile from. But I’m pleased I stuck with it. Pleased I held onto His righteous right hand. Pleased I walked with Him. Trusted Him. Pleased I let Him work in my life. Why? Because I am feeling good!! Feeling more content! Feeling a lot, lot happier! I’ve put to bed many things. Changed negatives to positives. Shifted perspectives. Begun a new life in oh so many ways. And this holiday was the relaxed start I needed!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding: think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” Proverbs 3 verse 5/6.

 

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All set up? Routines and Values.

How do you start your day? A cup of coffee? A bowl of muesli? A gentle read of yesterday’s paper? A crossword? A puzzle? Whatever you do, does it really set you up for the day? To cope with all that comes your way? Probably not. For once you set foot outside the door, the world steps in.

That gentle ride to work becomes a road race. Traffic lights acting as starting guns. Ready, steady, go! The roundabout becomes can I go now….. no, now…. oh, now!! And you slot into the circling traffic. Bus routes full of decisions. Stand or sit? Upstairs or down? Quick exit? Get off the stop before and walk a bit? To be healthy or what!!! And then when you get there the daily round of emails, meetings, and telephone calls. People and children asking questions. Requiring answers and actions. But perhaps you are the cleaner. Wielding the mop in a slow rhythmic  way. First this way then that. Thoughts that are miles away. Perhaps puzzling out the crossword clue you couldn’t quite get. Whether your job is busy or methodical, each has a value. A value that you either like or not. A value that says something to you. Personally.

For me, a stay at home wife, and this week a mum (- yippee!), my mornings are of my own making. Yes I have certain things I have to do, but they are very much up to me. The how, and the when is up to me. I start the morning with a glass of water, followed by the breakfast Mr A gets ready. Orange juice, tea, muesli, and fresh fruit. Yes I’m in that lane. The lane that aims to be healthy. Healthy all day. I don’t often succeed, but I try! Then, once Mr A has gone off to his work, and I have washed up and tidied around for a bit, I make a cup of coffee and settle down to a quiet time. A precious time with my bible and my LORD. To reflect on His word. To find the thing He wants me to note today. Yes, there is always something to take with me into the day. Some little gem. Some phrase or verse. Something that needs to be worked on. In doing this time, I am usually set up for the day. If I miss it, I’m wrong. Not quite put together!

For the last three or four weeks I have been looking at and studying Numbers. I mentioned it here .  Some of the chapters, I have looked at, read, and then scratched my head. What can I take from that? So I read it again. I think again. And gradually the pencil I’m holding, begins to put my thoughts onto paper. What was once a blank sheet fills up with arrows, comments, references. Something of value. Eventually, something to take with me into the day. Well this morning was a bit like that. Numbers 28 and 29. Two chapters. Although I could quite see them easily as just one long one. All about the offerings the people were to give to the LORD, “a pleasing aroma.” A thought and a scratch of the head.

Daily offerings. Sabbath offerings. Monthly offerings. Offerings for Passover. The Festival of Weeks. The Festival of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement. Offerings for the Festival of Booths. Each carefully worded. Each with their own instructions. To work or rest. To be quiet or to “joyfully shout”! Each lasting a different length of time. Each having a different sacrifice. A burnt offering. A grain offering. A drink offering. All with that “pleasing aroma to the LORD”. A thought and a scratch of the head.

What should I take from it? Should it be left there? On the page? To read and then move on? Everything that is written in His Word is of value. It wouldn’t be there if there was nothing of value. So this had to have value.  And as I thought and studied. Read and re-read. Scratched my head and thought some more. My pencil filled in my page. A yearly calendar of offerings. The same offerings on each day of each year. The 10th day of the 7th month. Each morning and dusk. Day in, day out. Month in, month out. A rhythm. A shape. A shape that becomes a routine. A routine that became theirs. A routine that became theirs to share. With each other and with God. A link. A personal link.

But I don’t give offerings in the same way.  I have no reason to give this type of offering. I do have a need to share a link. A need to give thanks. A need to find a pathway. A need to build a relationship. A personal relationship. A special relationship with my LORD. To be His disciple means going beyond that quiet time. Beyond the Sunday service. Beyond the  mid week meeting. It means building into my life a rhythm. A shape. A routine to shape me. To shape me to love, honour, worship and obey my LORD. To build up a means to ensure that I remember him daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. To let it sink into my actions. My words. My whole being. To become the habit. The norm. The routine that I walk each and every day. The routine that is not lonely. The routine that takes along my Friend. The routine that walks with a purpose. An aim. His purpose. His aim. The one He has for me. The routine that has heaps of value.

In so doing, I want my life to have a meaning. One that He sets up every day. To cope with all that comes my way. And in turn may it be “a pleasing aroma to the LORD”.

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Service. Coffee. Quirkiness!

When we are on our travels a round this beautiful country of ours, I usually end up taking a few photos of the coffee cups we empty. Looking at the creamy foam on the top of my cappuccino. Or the art work on the top of my flat white. Yes, I like to take the time to compose the photo! To watch my sugar – shhhhh! I know! – to watch my sugar slowly sink through it all. Yes, I’m a geek! Not quite as much as a certain young man I know, but I know what I like in my cup of coffee. So this holiday was no different.

I only photo those cups which get the thumbs up. Those that make me smile. The ones which use the ‘proper’ coffee. The grind-y ones. The ones which have the milk steamed. Frothed. Gurgled. Blasted. The swooshhhhhh, shhhhhh, sissssss, noises, that tell you it is on its way. And this time I have two contenders. Two cups……

But wait. It is more than just the coffee cup. It is more than the barista who works hard behind the counter. It is the service that we receive. It is the biscuit that comes on the side of the saucer. Or the piece of cake. Or scone. Or tray bake. It is the ambience of the shop. The quirkiness. The general feel you get when you walk in. So I start by sneaking a quick photo when we arrive. Then as I chat to the person who comes to greet us, I get bolder. I ask  if they mind if I take a few photos. Just one or two. Maybe three or four. Maybe…. well I do get carried away when I have my camera in my hand! And as I said I have two coffee contenders.

First to the mark is ‘Java’ on Flowergate, Whitby. Thumbs up! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

The second is Dotty’s Tea room in Staithes. This one gained an extra mark. It’s quirky! No QUIRKY!!! And I like quirky! I’ll let you decide.

So if you are out and about in Yorkshire, pop into Java or Dotty’s and I know you won’t be disappointed.

But I called this post service. Service with a smile. Service with a spring in your step. Service where you gain, as well as the person who is on the receiving end. Service that comes naturally. Not forced. Not pinned on like a badge. These two coffee shops had lovely people who couldn’t do enough for you. They loved being able to help. Mr A likes his coffee black. Black equals hot. So the extra mile is a small jug of cold water. Mr A also likes his coffee decaf! These coffee shops had decaf coffee beans. Not the instant coffee jar in the cupboard. Made with as much love as mine. Nothing was too much effort. What an example. An example like the one we should follow.

 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbour as yourself.

Galatians 5 verse 13-14.

 

 

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