Friday, July 30, 2010


Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!
God Most High is stunning,
astride land and ocean.
He crushes hostile people,
puts nations at our feet.
He set us at the head of the line,
prize-winning Jacob, his favorite.
Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,
a ram's horn blast at the summit.
Sing songs to God, sing out!
Sing to our King, sing praise!
He's Lord over earth,
so sing your best songs to God.
God is Lord of godless nations—
sovereign, he's King of the mountain.
Princes from all over are gathered,
people of Abraham's God.
The powers of earth are God's—
he soars over all.

~Psalm 47 (The Message)~

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Moving Post

So, now that the trauma that is moving is mostly behind us, I think I can blog about it a little bit. We had been in the same Lancastrian town for nine years, so a move was going to be difficult. It was needed and most desired, but it would be hard. Mostly it would be hard because this would be the girls first move. So the process began.

We received word on the 9th of June that yes we could have the house we desired and we could move in on the 25th. The list of concerns we had regarding the house would be taken care of--including painting two walls and some clean up in and around the house. The packers and movers were lined up and all was going well. We hosted open house and so many of our friends were able to come and we began to say the good-byes. One of our friends even "gifted" us with exposure to chicken pox--albeit unknowingly sharing htat gift until their little one got sick the next day. *sigh* But the weather was perfect, so the party was held outdoors and everyone had a splendid time.

The packers came and for three days packed the house and loaded the trucks  (yes, plural). Again perfect weather was had, so the girls could play in the garden whilst the packing was happening. The last day, they were slightly behind schedule so we left the house 2 hours later than planned, but still early in the afternoon. Until this moment all was going perfectly. Probably too perfectly.

The drive to Robin Hood country should be 2 1/2 hours. Four and half hours later we finally arrived. Yes, we had two extra hours sitting on the motorway due to an accident somewhere up ahead. It was bad enough for us, but probably a lot worse for the lovely folks on the two trucks loaded with our belongings who were also stuck in said traffic jam. Yuck! But we were determined to keep our spirits up. About an hour before we arrived we received a phone call from the letting agent confirming that we would be at the house at 845 the next morning. Our spirits were up! We were about to move into our new home and our new journey.

We arrived at the hotel, had dinner, and crashed for a much-needed sleep. The next morning we arrived at the house about 835. Letting agent was there....moving furniture out of the house that had been left by the previous tenant. He was moving it into the garage--our garage--until she could collect it "in about a month." We have two trucks arriving with all of our belongings--some of which need to go in the garage! Can you say "unhappy?" He eventually got all the furniture out but by then the trucks arrived and we did not have time to do the paperwork. It would have to wait. German and I shoved all the previous tenant's things into 2/3 of the garage to give us some room to put some of our things and then began supervising the unloading.

And those issues that were to be taken care of before we arrived? Well, only one of the two walls were painted, the grass had not been cut (it was taller than Jewel!) and the house was not cleaned (in fact I ended up packing SIX boxes of the tenant's belongings left in kitchen cabinets, bathroom cupboards, etc.) So, you can imagine my mood.

It was another gorgeous day. Too gorgeous in fact. When you are unloading two truckloads of belongings into a three story town house, some cloud cover and cooler weather is actually desired but not to be seen. Nevertheless, ten hours later there were no boxes on the truck and more than a hundred boxes in my new house.

There were things that were not in my new house, unfortunately. One of them was our bed. In the UK, all bed frames are smaller for safety of those moving them and ability to get them up smaller stair cases. We had been lucky in our previous moves that the stairwells were open enough that our American Queen size bed could be lifted over banisters. Not possible in this house. Our plan B was to break the frame, thinking that it was solid wood, and that we could then brace it. But it was solid metal not wood, so breaking it did not happen. Instead, it went into the garage and the next day we went to IKEA! Building an IKEA bed is not that difficult--when you can find the right tools. We had the battery-powered screwdriver, found in the first box we looked. The battery pack, however, could not be found. Twenty-seven boxes later, it was still not found. Forty-eight screws to put a bed together when you are already exhausted is not a good idea. So German and Flower went shopping for a new battery-powered screw driver. Came home with three just to be on the safe side. Bed finally assembled!

Since then things have mostly come together. Someone came and cut down the jungle so we have a back garden for the girls to play in. The grass was totally brown from having no sun for too long, but it is beginning to green with the recent rain. The boxes in the house are unpacked and things are put into place. A couple of things have been hung on the walls, and more are planned to go up this weekend. The garage is still full of the tenant's belongings, which is the bane of our existence right now, so the garage is not unpacked. This would not be such a big deal if it didn't mean that I do not have my freezer, which is stored in the garage, to keep stocked. But I'm surviving.

We are in a lovely cul de sac. All of the neighbours are friendly and we feel quite comfortable here. We believe we may have found the church that we will join and the girls are excited about the friends they are making there. School and home life are much more settled and it is so nice for German to be home each evening. In spite of the hiccups, we have felt God's guidance in each step of this move and are anxiously and expectantly watching to see what comes next. Watch this space!

(I've been holding this post to add some pictures, but I need to do some maintenance on the hard drive before downloading a bunch of pictures.  So, you will just have to use your imagination of moving boxes, jungle grass and IKEA furniture.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doing Someone Else's Homework

"I'm going to go help Flower with her schoolwork," Jewel announced.

"What does she need help with?" I asked suspiciously knowing that she had already completed the difficult tasks.

"I'm going to do her phonics for her."

"No you aren't."

"She said I could."

"Of course she said you could because she doesn't want to do it. But it isn't going to teach her anything if you do it for her."



I heard that little voice in my head that I so often hear when my children are demonstrating spiritual truths in front of me. The voice that said, "You are Flower."

I'm Flower? How am I Flower? The answer resounds in my spirit. "Every time you shrink away from a task because you are afraid or don't like to do it, and therefore 'let' someone else do it for you." Oh. Like when I let someone else make the hospital visit because I might not know what to say. Or participate in the evangelism focus because it makes me uncomfortable. Or greet the visitor because it is outside my comfort zone. "How are you going to learn to be comfortable or to trust me if you don't take the risks? How am I going to bless you in those situations if you don't enter them?" Oh. "Lord forgive me when I'm like Flower and 'let' someone else do the things that I know in my heart you are leading me to do. Amen."

The voice wasn't done. "You are also Jewel." I am? Of course I am. When I jump in and volunteer to cook the meal or host the party or teach the class before I stop and ask God if this is something I need to be doing. How often do I volunteer to do something that is actually someone else's growth experience? Too often. "Lord forgive me when I'm like Jewel and volunteering to do things that you have ordained for someone else to do. Help me to seek you first before jumping in with both feet. Amen."

How tricky the balance is! Do the tasks set before me and leave the tasks set before others alone. Trust God to give me the grace in what he has called me to do. Do not presume upon that grace when I am working in my own spirit and not his. Someday, somehow, maybe I'll learn the balance. Until then, I'm thankful he is a gracious teacher.

photo from; photographer: clarita

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In Other Words--Courage to Wait


"It requires much more courage to stand and wait and still not lose heart or lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others, and to be quiet, confident, and rejoicing while the busy multitude goes happily along their way.”

J.R. Miller
from Streams in the Desert

I hate waiting. Over the next few weeks, if all goes according to plan, you will read of some of my impatience with waiting. Especially when I feel that God is leading in something. I want to follow the lead and go. Quickly.

But God's timing is rarely my timing. And often he asks me to trust his plan, to commit to his plan and then to stand still until the time is right.

I love this quote's attribution that those times of waiting are times of courage. They feel like times of inactivity and inadequacy. But they are not. They are times of active trust and depending on his adequacy. And that is often more difficult than being busy.

The next time I feel like the world is rushing by me and I am being asked to stand still I will choose to take courage because God is still at work. That is all I need to know.

Father God, help me to trust your timing. Help me to stand still and keep hope and courage when things are not moving at my pace. Keep me from sinning in my impatience. Continue to develop your trust in my life. Amen.

Tami at The Next Step is our hostess today. If you visit her site you are sure to be blessed. Follow the links to see what the rest of the IOW community is saying.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Other Words--Hospitality is an Art Form


“I would define ‘hidden art’ as the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life. Each person has, I believe, some talent which is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being – a talent which could be expressed and developed.”

By Edith Schaeffer

“The Hidden Art of Homemaking”

Her home is a welcome refuge. She greets with a smile, offers of a drink and then turns back to what she is doing. Graciously refusing help, she motions her guest to sit and visit while she works. Dinner is simple--bbq sausages, steamed vegetables, fresh strawberries--but it is delicious. The truth is that she is one of the best cooks this guest knows and it is always a pleasure to sit at her table. Conversation around the table is joyful as the children interact. As the guest is shown to her room her senses are delighted. The sheets are ironed, there are fresh fluffy towels lying on the bed along with lovely soap and lotion from an exquisite spa. As the guest sinks into a deep sleep she thanks God for such a friend and a place to be in the chaos of the week.

This friend of mine raises hospitality to an art form. She takes the simple tasks of a meal, preparing a bed, laying out amenities and allows them to encircle her guests and touch all their senses. She has not allowed her talent for making people feel special to remain hidden. And I am grateful.

Father, thank you for my friend and the wonderful hospitality shared in her home. Thank you for the inspiration she gives me to make even the simple tasks of homemaking special. Thank you that she does not keep her art hidden. Bless her home with your presence in the conversations and the visitors that come. As I take her inspiration, help me to see the things in my home that you wish to take from "chore" to "art." Help me to not hide the talents you give to me. Amen.

Our hostess for In Other Words this week is Nina at Mama's Little Treasures. I hope you will visit some of the blogs that are participating and maybe find a little more of the art that is hidden in your home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Other Words--Glimpses of Sunshine


LLike any mom, at times I’ve felt like a failure.
And other times I’ve felt as if God reached down and added an extra touch of sunshine to the day.”

By author Tricia Goyer, on her webpage

On the motherhood stress scale, moving your children away from all of their friends and familiarity to a brand new place must rank near the top. It has broken my heart and made me feel like a complete failure every time someone asked Jewel if she was excited about the move and she answered with a scowl, "no." I have fretted over what church will offer them the best opportunities to grow and to make friends. I have prayed that they will make friends with the kids in the cul de sac. I've watched tempers slip and emotions rise in the midst of trying to get the house in order. A large neon "Failure" sign seems to appear questioning if this was a good idea.

But then. Or, more specifically But God. (Don't you love the sound of those words "but God.")

But God has given us not just touches of sunshine; he has sent glorious basking sunshine. I have sat at the kitchen table watching the abandonment into joy as the girls play on the swing set left by the previous tenant. I've overheard the conversations between them where Jewel admits to Flower "I like this house better." I watched on our second Sunday visiting a church a little girl fly out of her seat and hug Flower and lead her to the "saved" seat in case she came back. I've reveled in the excited chatter of Jewel telling me about her new friends in Sunday School.

Moving could make me feel like a colossal failure. BUT GOD sends sunshine into the chaos of potential failure and ministers not only to me but to my girls. And that is enough to energize the next step.

Father God, thank you for leading us in this move. Thank you for the amazing physical sunshine you sent every single day of the packing, loading, unloading and unpacking. Thank you for the spiritual sunshine that lightens our spirits and reminds us that you truly are in this move and it is within your will. Continue to lead us to the friends and the place of worship that your ordain for us. Continue to send glimpses of sunshine when the rain of failure threatens to alter my perception. And we will do our best to honour you in this place. Amen.

Our hostess for In Other Words this week is Loni at Writing Canvas. Go, visit and be blessed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marriage Monday--Blessing my Parents

When I read the topic for the month--Blessing our Parents--I have to admit, I was a little stumped. Distance often makes it difficult for me to feel like I am giving a blessing to my wonderful dad and his incredible wife. (Blessing my mother before her death was even more difficult but for other reasons entirely!)

But I do think that it is a fair question. How can we bless our parents in our marriage?

I know how to bless them with my children, their grandchildren. I foster a relationship even across the distance. I give them updates. I tell my children stories of their grandparents. We draw cards and pictures and mail them across the sea. We celebrate the times we are together. Blessing the grandparent is easy.

But blessing the parent?

I am fortunate that I have a Dad who has always been honest with me and my brother about marriage. He never pretended that it was easy. And, we saw him strive to do what was best for the family. The time came when there was little more that he could do and my parents marriage eventually ended. But even in that time he was honest in his part of the blame and in allowing us kids to become our own persons separate from the marriage breakdown (I was 22 and my brother was 21). I get the feeling that my step-mom lived her first married life in front of her kids much the same way. She acknowledged that marriage was hard, and did the best she could. And now, they have a remarkable marriage together! In fact, this week they celebrate their fourth anniversary.

I think that one way I bless them is that I have an honest marriage. By honest I mean one that has ups and downs (thankfully more ups than downs), that perseveres and that acknowledges the effort marriage requires. That kind of marriage honours them because it is the kind of marriage that they have! As children, we try to take the best of what we saw in marriage and incorporate that into our own. I believe, in some small way that blesses our parents--when they see us move forward with the building blocks they have given us.

German and I were discussing last night some of the "best" we have taken from our parents marriages--for him the love to travel and spend time as a family and of taking care of one's own family, for me the importance of tithing, family vacations and extended family relationships.  We laughed about the fact that we don't do any of those things exactly like our parents--but we have taken the principles taught and made them our own in a way that works for us.  In some small way, that is honouring the ones who went before us and taught us. (at least we hope it is)

Today, however, I want to indulge a little further in an attempt to bless my step-mom. Step-mothers get a bad rap in our culture and I find it so opposite my experience. Dix is the absolute best! When Mom died in February, I never once felt that I had to keep at bay the emotions. She made it clear that her home was our home. When family sat around the table and told stories of the past she stayed and was part of it. When my Dad needed time to grieve his first wife, she gave it. When my kids needed a place to be that was away from the emotion, she happily took off work and kept them. Dix made it possible to get through that week (and the following trip of cleaning out memories) without guilt and struggle. Graciousness exudes from her, and it made those weeks easier.  So I just want to take a moment to very publically say THANK YOU! Thank you for accepting this motley crew as your own and thank you for the refuge your home provides and thank you for loving my Dad.

Ultimately, isn't that the way we bless anyone? Just to love them, and let them love us in return.

Happy Anniversary Dad and Dix!!!

(and I can't wait to see you..just a few more weeks)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Goal Post July


I know that I'm late, but I was without internet on the 1st so I have a good excuse!

Goals from June revisited:
1. MOVE HOUSE (with any luck the end of the month will be our big move date, so I have to get rid of some junk and get ready) DONE!! Still unpacking boxes, but 80% done!
2. Start over on a Project 365 photo project Nope...will try again this month
3. Lose 5 pounds (maybe if I put these goals here I'll stick to them) I lost 9! Yippee!
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments no
5. Complete page 4 of "The Names of God" 90% complete

Goals for July:
1. Finish unpacking office and sewing room
2. Start over on a Project 365 photo project
3. Lose 5 more pounds(maybe if I put these goals here I'll stick to them)
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments
5. Complete page 4 and page 7 of "The Names of God"