Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

30 July 2014

Another winter update - and probably no more till spring

Mum's funeral: was lovely. Really beautiful. Service, words, music, flowers, photos, family and special friends - all perfect. Since then there have been busy days, quiet days, good days, sad days, days of doing paperwork, days of doing not much at all. It depends on the day.

Enormously thankful: for many kind messages sent to us via various media and especially for many, many prayers. The best prayer that made this introvert's heart sing, and gave good courage for what was required, was for strength to do all the meeting and greeting and the facing of the masses.  This prayer in particular was and continues to be powerfully helpful.  A good one to remember for others down the track.

Decided: to cut and run on the Bible reading plan. At the last winter update the calendar date was the 5th July and I was up to the 20th June on the reading plan. It's now the 30th July and I am still up to the 20th June on the plan. Life has not been without the Bible. At times I have been falling into my soft spots. At other times I haven't opened the cover but drawn from what is locked away in my heart and mind. But it is time. A couple of days ago I was resolved to do double readings and gradually get caught up. Last night I decided that the 2nd August looks like a good re-entry point on the plan. In the meantime I'll read a few favourites until Saturday. One day of readings per day is enough at the moment.

Reading: a few other bits and pieces.  North and South is trundling along slowly but nicely.  One son asked, "So who's your favourite author?  Ms A or Liz G?"  Just beginning to nibble slowly slowly at a couple of other books - one in preparation for some upcoming Bible studies and one to finish where I left off a while ago.

Watching: Downton Abbey. It's wonderful.  (Except for Thomas the Footman.)  Where have I been?  Oh yes...hiding in the West Wing.  So glad to have found my way to Downton.  Good viewing for evenings on the sofa under a blanket with a cup of tea. 

Signing off: just for a little while.  There are things to do, quiet time to be had and my head is uncustomarily woolly.  I expect it will clear in time.  See you in the Spring.

09 July 2014

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

I had no idea - none of us did - when I wrote my Winter update on Saturday and mentioned being in a season of caring for our elderly mums, that on Monday my sisters and I would find ourselves standing at a hospital bedside.  My sweet mum passed away peacefully late Monday afternoon with her four daughters at her bedside. She drifted gently away with the words, "Heaven is beautiful" in her ears. 
 

We will sing this hymn at her funeral on Tuesday.  Its words echo all that we have found to be good, true and of comfort this week.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be. 
 
     Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!
     Morning by morning new mercies I see;
     All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
     Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
 
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
 
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Words by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm 1866-1960

05 July 2014

Winter update - 2014

Winter garden looking like Spring.

Winter: it is.  We have had some very cold days - cold enough to warrant the English winter-weight woollen coat - and plenty of rain.  Today it seems like spring - and thanks to a dear friend from church who spent two days turning our yard back into a garden - it's looking like spring too.  But there's another big storm forecast for tomorrow.  The gutters and downpipes are ready.  Again.

Drinking: a cup of tea.  Of course.

Eating: a Kit Kat - but just a small one.  Not the enormous one of the Autumn update.

Falling behind: with the Bible reading.  The calendar suggests it's 5th July.  My reading plan indicates it's 20th June.  I may have a chance to do some catch up reading in the next week or two.  And I'm looking forward to it.  This is not an irretrievable situation as yet.

Also reading: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Since the last update I've read exactly fifteen chapters (approximately one third) of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  Miss Elizabeth writes with great elegance.  And I am glad to have this to dip into as time allows.  But time is scarce.

Am officially in: what is known in the trade as a season, hence the modest gains in reading.  As earlier posts this year have alluded, we are busy (and happily so) caring for my mum and my mother in law - both widows and both beset with the ravages of old age.  Most spare moments are now filled sitting with them or doing things for them and that is how it will be for a while.  God provides all we need day by day, sometimes in most miraculous ways.

The Philippians Project: therefore is currently on hold.  Head space is also in short supply.  But watching the tyranny of years at close quarters I am more convinced than ever of the value of getting on with this come a change or at least a settling of the current season.

Amassing: a list of books I'd like to read, come the day.  And wanting to say a big thank you once again to those of you who kindly do your Book Depository shopping via this blog.  I really appreciate it.  (By the way, readers from the US, you can now go to The Book Depository via The Key to the Door because they have changed their system. :-) )

Delighted: to have found the entire three series of "Gilligan's Island" on DVD.  I used to LOVE this show.  It's been fun to watch a few episodes again and our kids are loving them. 

Loving: being a basketball mum.  Both boys are playing competition basketball this year.  They've been doing junior drills and skills and mock games for a few years but we've reached the big comp now.  As my two boys make up a third of our team I thought I'd step up to be the manager, novice as I am.  How hard could it be?  Collect the game money each week, help out if there is an injury.  Oh, and score.  They didn't tell me THAT bit when I signed on.  So I started the season asking my fellow score keeper from the other team, "So tell me, what actually is a one pointer, a two pointer and a three pointer?"  Just as I was getting the hang of the paper and pencil version of scoring...it's not just a matter of keeping a tally of points, you know... they told me it was going electronic.  I've been feeling the synapses connecting all season.  We're currently third on the ladder.  Yay for us!

Bemused: as to how "screen free" in our house morphed into not including television.  Screen free = no computers apparently.  But you can watch as much TV as you like.  How did that happen?  But not anymore.  The screen free police have arrived and we now have Monday to Thursday totally screen free for anyone still legally classified as a youth (except for homework purposes) and it's going really well.  It feels calmer, we get stuff done and we're scoring more shots at basketball because of all the practice that's taking place.  Of course now it's school holidays and I imagine the screen free police are on holiday too...

Enjoyed: the ABC Classic FM "Baroque and Before Top 100 Countdown" a few weeks back.  I was listening mainly in the car, but seemed to be in the car a great deal that week which worked for me.  Interestingly I prefer to perform Classical music.  And for my annual visit to the symphony with a dear friend of mine, I always choose a Romantic programme.  I absolutely cannot wait for this year's outing...Elgar's Cello Concerto and Bruckner's 4th Symphony - I actually can't imagine a better line up than that.  But for driving music it seems to be Baroque - and for one happy week the listening was divine.

Anticipating: Holiday Bible Club.  Next week.  We have two wonderful speakers presenting a wonderful theme - a Bible overview in a little rhyme reminiscent of This is the House that Jack Built.  We have some great craft activities prepared and some fun games ready to play.  I'm praying for a wonderful week with the kids - that their hearts will be drawn to their Father in heaven.  And for fine weather just between 9:15 and 9:45am each day when I'm running crazy outdoor games.  It can rain the rest of time as much as it likes.

Signing off: because it's time to turn "Gilligan's Island" off.  Far too many episodes have been viewed during the writing of this post.  See you in the spring.  And hopefully before.