Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tuesday - Fast and Pray

(I know, Sue, I'm running behind in the days .... but in the big scheme of things if anyone ever looks at this some other time they won't notice!!)

For quite some time now I have Fasted and Prayed for my family on a Tuesday and seen some amazing results. I get the Above Rubies  magazine and many years ago we were invited to set Tuesday as the day to fast and pray for families and although I don't do it every Tuesday it is definitely a day I focus on.

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
 and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
 and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
 and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
 and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness will go before you, 
 and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; 
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
                                                             Isaiah 58:6-9a 

Rend Your Heart 
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, 
 “return to me with all your heart, 
 with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. 
Return to the Lord your God, 
 for he is gracious and compassionate, 
slow to anger and abounding in love, 
 and he relents from sending calamity. 
14 Who knows? He may turn 
and relent and leave behind a blessing— 
grain offerings and drink offerings 
 for the Lord your God.
                                                Joel 2:12-14

23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, 
and he answered our prayer. 
Ezra 8:23

All Scripture is from New International Version

God has come through many times so I keep at it. By lunch time when the hunger creeps in I spend time in prayer and just that seems to curb it away.

So Tuesday February 20th in New Zealand was the day that Cyclone Gita struck. We didn't get any damage here and the garden got a good water, but central New Zealand and especially the top half of the South Island, were badly affected with flooding, strong winds, power cuts, slips and even snow.

When I woke the place was eerily still; not a breath of wind, but later in the day, when I visiting the Parish Chairman to drop off his paper work for this weeks meeting, "Gita" arrived. The wind was so strong it moved a huge bean bag across the covered deck and the rain came in sideways. I thought to myself, "hmmm should have left five minutes ago," but then it calmed. I was able to get to the car and home with out getting soaked.

Before I came home, I checked out Carl and Sarah's section as I was told the builders had put up the sign. Sure enough, it was erected and a nice smooth concreted entrance shone in the rain. I felt a sense of excitement for them that at long last something was starting for them. Its been months since they first decided to buy,as no sooner has one demand been met, then another would arise. But looks like their home is going to begin.

I also set Tuesday aside for doing our own sort of admin type things. I clear my own desk at home, paying bills,  checking accounts, filing paper-work away and seeing to any errands or phones calls that need to be made. I also finalize my shopping list then loading everything I need into the car, set out to get groceries and run all the errands etc. This day I wasn't sure what we were gong to get with the cyclone so I was keen to get out and home as quickly as I could. To start with I ended up working late as I had so much paperwork to sort, print and photocopy, not to mention my report for Thursdays meeting and the photocopier decided to make its own decision with some of the copying! In fact I was two hours late home.

So it was into Putaruru, post mail, pay the dentist, get groceries, then through to Matamata to the bank then The Warehouse for Harry and around to the Parish Council Chairman.

Once I was home safe and dry the rain seemed to stop and even the sun came out. It was a simple tea of chops, roasted potatoes and a large salad (all from our garden) and then to bed earlier than usual.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday - HBH

Mondays are my home blessing hour (HBH).

“What?” you ask.

Let me take you back to 2006. Our third daughter was getting married in the following January and we were blessed by some carpet from a family who were having their house re-carpeted but there was still plenty of life in the old carpet. Harry decided he would lay the carpet and underlay himself but as he was working that meant it would take a while. We moved all the furniture into the non-carpeted rooms and we had to live, work and prepare for a wedding around it.

At first I had thought it would be great to have the newer carpet especially for the wedding but once the place seemed to be tipped up-side-down I was a bit anxious – well probably 'a lot.'

At that time I also used to get a monthly magazine printed in Australia caked Notebook: Ideas for Living. They had an article that talked about a website with help in being organised, have good self-esteem and generally promoted well-being for women.
The magazine also had a forum that I was part of and quite a few of the women had started using this system and found it really great, so out of curiosity I investigated. The system is called Fly Lady – Finally Loving Yourself and is full of ideas, systems and encouragement started by a Christian woman in America called Marla Cilley 

I started the programme with the first steps she takes you through to put routines in place and I found through all the upheaval I found peace and order. She has many catch phrases and routines one of them being the Home Blessing Hour. Over time I have changed and adapted the systems to suit me and don’t receive the 10 or so emails a day but I certainly found her a huge benefit.

So Mondays I do a quick overall clean
  • Change sheets 
  • Clean mirrors and glass doors 
  • Wipe down bathroom and toilet fixtures 
  • Dust furniture with a feather duster 
  • Clean around the fireplace and burn rubbish 
  • Vacuum ‘centers’ of rooms 
  • Mop
This actually takes a bit longer than an hour but I certainly go as quick as I can knowing it’s just a general tidy up type clean. Deeper more detailed and thorough cleaning is done in a different way (By this system) throughout the year.

So I went to work this  morning and had a busy day but not getting a lot done. I had phone calls and visitors - more so than I would have (one lady arriving just after 12.15pm and talking for over half an hour) so I just closed up leaving the place in a bit of a mess to carry on tomorrow. I work from 9.30am to 12 and most days I'm there until 12.30pm, but it’s just for finishing off.

Once I had delivered and posted the church newsletter around town to folk who hadn't been at church this week, after work, I got home to find Harry mowing the lawns. I hung the small load of washing thinking the day seemed fine after all, but - no - it soon started to drizzle but I did manage to get it mainly dry.

(Do you really want to know all this Sue?)

Yes those are our chooks following Harry around as he mows. As soon as he starts the mower if they are out they will follow behind pecking at the exposed bugs etc in the lawn.

I spent the next hour or so focusing on the HBH and as usual it took slightly longer than an hour.

I have managed to get it completed in an hour but I think I get distracted a bit and of course Harry wanted conversation between it all. And we had a cuppa while he watches "Tipping Point"

I harvested more vegetables from the garden and fruit from trees around the front yard for tea and to collect before the winds are due tomorrow. Cyclone Gita is passing over New Zealand over the next few days and although I don't expect we will badly affected here in the Waikato like other parts of New Zealand I do suspect we will get some strong winds and heavy rain.

I gathered all the fallen peaches from under the tree and later cooked them up topping them with some tiny meringues we got in a Christmas gift box to make a little pudding. I had roasted the chicken pieces, the potatoes and zucchini hunks for tea and popped the meringue topped peaches in the oven to warm through as it cooled down. I would have liked some whipped cream to go with it but instead we had some peaches and cream ice cream which complimented it nicely.

And the sunset – nope not today.
It’s raining.

Sunday - A Day of Rest

Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall labor, 
but on the seventh day you shall rest; 
even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest..
New International Version

Continuing my week of posting...

Today I got up early (as in, before 7.00am) to get to Church early, as I wasn't sure if our minister, Pastor John, would be firing on all guns. I left Harry sleeping. John has been suffering from bronchitis and lost his voice. I arrived just on 7.45am and entered to what I thought was an empty church all set up ready for our 8.00am service with some music playing.

Thinking I was on my own, I found the matches and lit the candles on the alter and then discovered John quietly sitting in the main church.

Checking the Service booklets I found I had forgotten to insert the service sheets for Lent. Being away last week on a course, I just didn't remember to ask Frances, who beautifully fills in for me, to check the booklets either. So with the help of a couple of others, who had now arrived, we were able to change enough booklets to cover this mornings congregation.

John managed to get through the service, so I only had to help with the serving of communion which I normally do.

Once the service was finished I changed the rest of the booklets and set up our Kid's Friendly Church Greeting table for our 10.00am Service

A lovely friend invited me for coffee at The Honey Shop so, as I hadn't had a morning cuppa I happily accepted. By the time we got back church was filling with people and I tended to welcome the children.

Each child has a name tag (to help adults learn their names) and their name on a chart that they add a sticker to, each time they come to church. When they have ten stickers they then have a certificate presented to them during the service and they get to choose a gift/prize from a box of goodies. We have been doing this welcoming table for  18 months now and some children have received the certificate for coming 70 times. Each time a new child comes and is likely to come again I will add them to the charts and make up a name tag. It doesn't matter how infrequently they may come we just want to make them feel very welcome to our church and service. The children go out to JAM (Jesus And Me), our Sunday School, after the first part of our service.

Arriving home I found Harry had hung the load of washing I didn't hang out yesterday so that was nice and we had a cuppa together.

Because I feel that I want to be obedient to God's word I always try to have a rest on Sundays. I also use it as my day of just preparing for the coming week.

So armed with my planner, coloured pencils and pens and letters I wanted to reply to, I headed for the comfort of our bed to quietly draw up the next week in my planner and write to a penfriend in England and a couple of family members.

I have always just loved receiving hand written mail and know that if I want to receive, I should give in return.

I even dozed a little - a day of rest - something that usually happens on a Sunday afternoon.
Its just something I allow myself to do in preparation for the week ahead and to recoup if I've had a busy week in the past.

However as sometimes happens, when I got up and joined Harry back in the lounge to watch the end of the news and weather, (got to keep up-to-date with the coming cyclone!) I had an episode of shaky hands. I decided to wander outside to get everything moving, smelt some roses
(loved this one)
and folded the washing as I took it off the line and brought it all in.
Still not feeling any better we decided I wouldn't cook tea and so Harry did - well we got some fish and Chips - something we haven't done for awhile. We are a bit stick in the mud people and so when we do get take-aways its always

2 fish
2 potato friiters
and a scoop of chips

And they still don't seem to know how to count and we get 4 potato fritters.

Its funny when we order fish and chips I have this anticipation of the taste and smell but nearly every time after about 6 chips and half a fish I am over it!

Anyone else have that feeling?

And then the sunset was brighter tonight; in oranges and almost a red. 

Everything around us seemed to glow in the warmth of it
touches of colour on houses and trees
as if grabbing the last of the warmth of the day...
but quickly it faded 
and night came in - and the earth rested.....

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday - Sleep in Day

A friend asked me “What did you do today?” and I was reminded of my mother saying something similar every Saturday when she would ring around 9.00am in the morning. She has rung me every Saturday for years and I would almost get a telling off if I wasn’t there to answer the phone. Sometimes it would annoy me but now it is precious. She would ask me what I had done that week and for me it would often be the same thing and so I would just say that. Now-a-days she only rings when she remembers as she is in her late 80’s and things skip her mind or she can't remember what she's done in the past so routines aren't quite happening these days. It’s then that I put pen to paper and let her know what I have done in the last week.

So instead of telling my friend, I said I would blog it with pics. Then she suggested I do a whole week.


This is for you Sue.

Saturday for me is ‘sleep in day’. I go to work five days a week and then Sunday I have to be up early for our 8.00am church service so Harry will leave me to sleep and even if someone does ring he will just check and if I’m still sleeping he will tell them, so I can sleep on.
And because Mum and Dad didn’t ring that didn’t wake me either. This meant I (well both of us really) slept until well after 9.00am - so a good catch-up on sleep.

I usually do our sheets on a Monday for part of my 'home blessing hour' but we are expecting the remains of a cyclone then, so I figured I’d do it today so it would get dry.


It has rained off and on all day and the weather report last night had said clouds and then a sunny afternoon … I’m still waiting to see the sun. Needless to say I got them mainly dry and with the help of our hot water cupboard where I put the folded washing, some on top of the cylinder, it will get dry without using the dryer.

I had a look around the garden and decided to harvest some of our rhubarb. There is a huge amount and I wanted to make some muffins as we don’t buy biscuits - I was craving something sweet. There was so much there I made two batches of rhubarb and ginger muffins; one to freeze and the other to use over the next few days. I stewed and froze two ice cream containers and a yogurt container full, for breakfast when the rhubarb is not so prolific.

(In the pic they are just freezing before I put the lids on)

And the garden…. (for you Linda)

We have kept at it over the summer and are already planning our winter crops. Being on a sickness benefit and my income, there really is not much to live on, so we are growing all our vegetables and some of our fruit.

Every day we are harvesting a cucumber or two and maybe a zucchini.

We have a forest of tomato plants and a large spread of pumpkins growing.

The sunflowers (the pic at the top of this post) are blooming and we have a good supply of capsicums.

Carrots are in three different stages - one we are just starting to use, one that will need thinning soon and one that is just coming up. This assures a continuous supply and there are beetroots, parsnips and peas coming up.

Unfortunately as we don’t use any sprays the caterpillars have had a feast of the brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) but I will sprinkle some soapy water on them to combat some of them and hopefully they will survive. Fortunately we have already cut the fisrt main head of broccoli off the plants so it is just the sprouting heads to come on.

Harry puts in a potato crop every year and this year he has already dug out a good supply he planted in spring which he has stored and is putting in the second sewing for the end of the season. This will hopefully last us all year until the first harvests of Spring plantings later in December. The bamboo sticks are to support the plants as they grow so they don't lie all over the ground. We are hoping this keeps the air through them so the blight doesn't get them.

So tonight’s dinner was all home-grown except the chops.

The sun setting was not as bright as some have been lately but never-the-less it still had some nice colours.

All in all - a good day.

And for that I praise God for the blessings He gives us.

Psalm 103 
1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

New International Version (NIV)

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Beginnings

Once we've celebrated Christmas my thoughts often recall the events of the year and wonder what the new year will bring.

Sometimes the past has pain, regrets and disappointments for myself and maybe others. I've made mistakes and things have not worked out the way I planned or wanted. I've missed opportunities to, make a difference for myself and others or to turn selfish moments into blessings for others.

The prospect of a new year brings the opportunity to leave all that behind, seek forgiveness by confessing our wrong and start a fresh. Even though its just the change of the calendar - as the morning dawns just like the day before's - the new year marks a point for new beginnings.

But do we really seek out new beginnings or are we afraid of failure, being laughed at or criticized for doing/being different or being someone we "shouldn't" be.

[I've never liked that word 'should'. Comments like "You should..." imposing something on me when it could have been said "you could..." which offers options; or "Would you.....?" which actually gives you a choice]

As you look back at what you've already overcome you realise that most times failure doesn't do permanent damage. In fact, as many have said, failure actually is a trophy that shows you have taken the courage to try and although you didn't succeed there is the opportunity to learn and try again.

When New Year Resolutions are made statistics have shown that by the end of February 85% of them have been broken already - that's failure on a big level and maybe if the resolutions were never made (especially on the whim of the moment) that high percentage wouldn't happen.

So does that mean don't bother?

Well its up to you. I like to set myself challenges and goals and this year I start with a different mindset.

I've just finished reading a book by Lysa TerKeurst  called Made to Crave and a key theme was 'unsettle me' [page 171 -172]

 Yes, indeed, unsettle me Lord. 
 Unearth that remnant of unforgiveness. 
 Shake loose that justification for compromise. 
 Reveal that broken shard of pride. 
 Expose that tendency to distrust. 
 Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow your touch to reach the deepest parts of me- dark and dingy and hidden away too long- suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul. 
 I can delight in forgiveness and love more deeply.
 I can discover my gentle responses and find softer ways for my words to land.
 I can recognize the beauty of humility and crave the intimacy with God it unleashes.
 I can rest assured though harsh winds blow, I will be held.
 Goodbye to my remnants, my justification, shards, and tendencies. This is not who I am- nor who I was created to be.
 Goodbye to shallow love, sharp words, self focus, and suspicious fears. I am an unsettled woman who no longer wishes to take part in your distractions or distructions.
 Welcome deeper love, softer words, unleashed intimacy, and the certainty I am held.
 Welcome my unsettled heart

In particular I have written down "Unsettle me in the best kind of way." 
It's like a challenge received from God to say yes to, knowing that with His guiding He will only give us what we can cope with.

The devotion for today from The Word For Today was titled "This Year Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone" with the scripture from Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I felt God was showing me to step out, to take up the challenge and to look for a new way with Him.

It ended with a poem...

'I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I couldn't fail; 
the same four walls of busywork were really more like jail. 
I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before, 
but stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor. 
I said it didn't matter that I wasn't doing much; 
I said I didn't care for things like dreams and goals and such. 
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside my zone, 
but deep inside I longed for something special of my own. 
I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win;
 I held my breath and stepped outside and let the change begin. 
I took a step, and with new strength I'd never felt before, 
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye, then closed and locked the door. 
If you are in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out, 
remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.'

Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW),

The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation repeated their Photo-a-day Challenge this year and I decided to join in. It ran for 15 days from 1–15 October to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), from 9–15 October 2017.

The theme was "Nature is Key" because  they said "We know spending time with nature is fantastic for our mental health and well-being. We wanted to find an easy way for lots of people to unlock their well-being and share how they see nature – out of their windows, at work and at home and everywhere in between." We were encouraged to head out into nature, look at it with fresh eyes and show what we saw.

We were given a topic each day to go out and take a photo of what that meant to us. Although it was a competition as well I was just happy to be challenged with getting out doors with my camera and here are my 15 pics.

Day 1 - My view: It was raining much of the day so I ventured down the front steps and this is 'my view'. It is some of our overgrown front yard. I see different angels of it from different windows in the house and look back at it when coming up the drive. When we sit on the deck with a cuppa it's the view we have and it changes with each season, so it's a place of contemplation as well.

Day 2 - Gratitude: I read that "Many spiders actually replace their entire web every single day." So I am grateful that like a new dew drenched spider web, we too can try a new start each day.

Day 3 - Light: Being out in the morning as the sun rises can really give an uplifting attitude to focus on for the new day. So like being in a place of depression it can be like 'after the dark of night we welcome the light of morning.' (note: in this particular frame the clouds parted to give the smiling face!)

Day 4 - Water: I could have picked a stream, river, waterfall, the sea, rain, a pond... but I remembered a trip to a local farm with Harry to get in our firewood. It was when I first got my new camera and I was keen to see what it would produce. The way this trough showed the passing of time appealed to me. Water is the source of life and all of creation need it to survive. So here was a water trough reflecting the sky where fresh water comes from.

Day 5 – Small treasures: Well I struggled with the photo of this. I wanted to take a pic of a bluebell that is growing under the deck as the hens have scratched all the bulbs out of that part of the garden making a bit of a mess. So its survival and bloom is a SMALL TREASURE in the disarray of overgrown garden. Trying to focus on it and not anything else didn't work but then I loved the 'abstract' of this shot so chose it.

Day 6 – Nature indoors: It was an interesting day for this as it was raining outside anyway so I had to think about what would make a good shot of nature indoors. As I looked at all the things we have that are taken from the outdoors I decided to make a display by our front door. So it included plants, feathers, shells, stones and an earthen vase.


Day 7 – Bush walk: With stuff going on that day I hadn't been out for a bush walk but we do have a little native garden area on our section so I went down there and took the first pic. Making my way back I found the little nest on the ground and must have nearly walked on it! Pays to take your time on a bush walk.

Day 8 – Art: It had been raining here all day so I didn't go outside to look for photo opportunities. The topic was so vast. Art is quite a personal thing when it comes to what you like and how you view it or interpret it.   What does art mean to me? As our subjects were to be nature I searched my photos for something that evoked interest, not just for me but others too. In the end I chose the koru. It is used in a lot of ways and places in art. But then Harry quite liked the second one. (root system from an old tree) So art is definitely to be viewed at through the eye of the one viewing it.

Day 9- Pop of colour: It rained again for most of the day here in the Waikato. But in a fine break I ventured out with my camera. Taking shots of flowers among all the overgrown weeds for a "pop of colour", little did I know until I loaded the one I chose, up on the computer that it included a little spider! Harry later added a comment "Photobomber more likely."

Day 10 – MHAW Lockout:
The MHAW Lockout is returning for a second year! On World Mental Health Day (Tuesday, 10 October), we’re encouraging employers across New Zealand to lock their staff out of the office for an hour and give them the opportunity to connect with the ordinary nature around their workplace. From 12–1pm, Kiwis will head outside and discover how happiness and wellbeing blooms when you start to connect with the nature that surrounds you every day. 
OK so I finish work at 12.00 mid-day, sometimes extended to 12.30 if demands mean I need to, so being 'locked' out is not really a new opportunity. So I just finished at 12 and took a pic of the driveway where I work.

Day 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth): I wanted to take photos for this challenge on the day the topic was given. It didn't always happen but this day I went for a bit of a drive and about 10 kilometers north of Tirau I chose to take this shot. 'The land around me as I see it' Here I capture Papatūānuku, the rich farm land of the Waikato with trees and rolling hills

Day 12 – Creature: I could have chosen the birds, our hens, the cat but instead I decided on something just out in nature. Here a bee is busy collecting pollen.

Day 13 – Spring: Although by mid October we are heading into late spring and all those typical springtime opportunities are hard to find I was able to capture this silver-eye (Waxeye) in our Tui tree.

I took a few of the blossoms of our apple tree as well but wanted to include some bird life or insects in my entry for the challenge, however, I did like the way my camera took this snap.

Day 14 – Love my backyard: My backyard looks a bit embarrassing. Its untidy and full of overgrown areas and lawn that desperately needs mowing. Those who follow my blog will know my hubby suffers from an MI and after a winter and spring of being low the backyard is starting to become a place he is happy to be working on. With our large vegetable garden being its main feature, getting in his potatoes and helping me with my vegetable garden means the summer has promises of supply and good food. I too enjoy working in it and harvesting fresh food for us - and I love that!

Day 15 – Nature is key to… ? Hubby and I talked about this and decided it is LIFE. As a Christian I have New Life in Christ but life also comes from what is around us... nature.
I went outside in the blustery wind for an hour and ended up taking 52 pics (interesting 52 weeks in the year). After deleting the blurry ones and ones that just did not appeal I selected two. Hubby said this one (on the left) as it shows living nature (life) - bees on the apple blossoms collecting pollen for food and to make honey comb, fertilizing the blossoms to produce fruit, part of the cycle of nature so it shows - Nature is key to life.

This was another one I kept. Just a glimpse of the simple things of nature through the blur of everything else.