Monday, March 9, 2015

Count Your Many Blessings

You know you can be happily going along and just getting on with life then something comes along and bowls you over?

It could be in a good way or a bad way...
It could be something huge or just the last straw that breaks the camels back..

Some of you will know if you have been reading my blog over the years that Hubby has a Mental Illness of Chronic Depression. It is in control with medication and we both watch out for signs for when all is not going too well.

I have been working outside the last month each Saturday morning tidying what I can around the place as it as getting quite overgrown and messy and generally in need of care-taking. I've weeded and pruned our driveway garden; trimmed back and weeded the small native garden; pruned some of the fruit trees and now just finished the flower garden outside our dining room window. It involved pruning some rose bushes and digging out a huge clump of bulbs that should have been thinned a few years ago.

I now want to reclaim the vegetable garden and get some winter crops in before it gets cold but it looks like a wilderness of weeds and parsnips gone to seed. They self seeded from last years neglect but it's really only me who likes them so I never got to eat them all.
Harry has been helping a little pulling out the parsnips. I have found in the past that I get a blister type rash if I get any sap from the sprouted parsnip on my skin and it leaves a scar so I am reluctant to attack them myself.

Before I start the new plot in our vegetable patch rotation we really need to reposition the huge chook run on a new part so they hens can work on a new patch of ground and I can start a garden next to them. This will allow Hubby to start planting potatoes in the bit the hens are currently in early next spring.

All sounds easy enough... but unfortunately things are not quite happening and Hubby is spending a lot of time just sleeping. He says he is tired.... but I am watching... the job of a caregiver.

But this Saturday that "something" hit me and I felt really sorry for myself. There is a list of things to be done and I can't do them all on my own. I know widows and others living on their own have to do it themselves or find help some other way and all that, but the 'woe is me' kicked in.

I have learnt when this happens to let all the 'stuff' go and find something to minister and care for me. I have learnt to find the blessings, for there are many and so I wondered around the gardens that I have tidied up and admired the work I have done. It is early Autumn and the warmer days are fading - the flowers not quite so prolific, so I gathered myself a bunch. They may be a mixture of weeds and end of the season blooms but gathered up they made a bright arrangement on our table.

As I pass them now I am reminded that it is just one of the simple ways to boost how I feel and hum the little song we used to sing in church...

I am grateful for so much and know that in time everything will get done that needs to be done. It may end up not happening the way I think or would like but in the meantime I can be grateful for some much; good health, a great spouse, an awesome church family, a good paying job, a roof over my head, food on the table, great family, and an awesome God who always reminds me that He loves me!! And I don't have to be perfect or do things better to get His love!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Women and Stress: Practical Ways to Manage Tension

Women and Stress: Practical Ways to Manage Tension is written by Jean Lush, with Pam Vredevelt updating it a bit so it is now repackaged to reach a new generation of stressed-out readers. Women and Stress continues its important role in stress management in our high-stress times.

Jean Lush (1914-1996) was also coauthor of Mothers and Sons and the bestselling Emotional Phases of a Women's Life. Jean was well-known for her radio and television outreach.

Pam Vredevelt
Pam Vredevelt is a bestselling author, popular conference speaker, and licensed professional counselor at NW Counseling Services in Gresham, Oregon. She is coauthor of Mothers and Sons and Surviving the Secret.

Women and Stress is a classic, time-tested handbook for any woman dealing with stress.

Everyone must manage tension and stress; from balancing work and family to cultivating relationships and dealing with personal issues. But how we do it can determine the quality of our lives.

In this book, Jean and Pam point out causes of tension and stress and how we typically respond to these. They then conclude by showing you how to deal with stress that is unique to women in healthy, productive ways. They examine troublesome emotions and show how to manage tension with practical, tried-and-true methods gained from research, personal experience, and enlightening case studies.

This helpful book offers you reassuring advice for handling common sources of stress and their manifestations, such as
• fear
• mood swings
• jealousy and anger
• perfectionism
• unmet needs
• and more

It's no secret that we live in high-stress times. Women and Stress is a proven resource to help you not only cope but rise above the chaos to a peaceful, balanced life.

I found this book a reminder to me on keeping time for me and guarding this time, so no-one or anything can steal it away. It also reminded me to fit in the things I love to do and not think of them as luxuries or guilty escapes but as 'tools' to help me relax and have a stress-free life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Courage to be Rich

The Courage to be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance

In the bible there is a verse:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10 New International Version 

This book made me look at the verse in a different way.

Suze Orman is an American personal financial adviser and a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times mega bestselling author, magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and one of the top motivational speakers in the world today. She has won numerous awards and yet started out growing up on the South Side of Chicago earning a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Illinois and at the age of 30 was still a waitress making $400 a month.
Her life story was that of an ordinary child but she made choices to change it.

In her book "The Courage to be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance" Suze took me on a journey that showed me that it is not to have a love of money in the sense that it becomes your idol but to love it with the respect it deserves. You either have a love for money or a love for possessions - and the later will never leave you with any money. Giving money the respect it deserves enables it to stay with you and build up to become a tool you can use for the good in your life.

This book is a handbook based on the American financial system so a lot of it was not relevant in New Zealand but her explanations, examples of 'peoples' stories and a guide as to what to expect, what to do and what not to do, can be adapted for anyone anywhere in the world. She addresses the rites of passage we all might and/or must face - marriage, divorce, death, spending (and overspending), the financial situations we may well find ourselves in at theses times and taking control of our financial tomorrow's today.
At first she makes you take an honest look at where you are today in relation to your finances and invites you to participate in some activities to truly make you stop and take control where ever you are.

The book is more than a book about money. It's a book about emotions and feelings and living a life of abundance. It's a book that encourages you to face the feelings and emotions you have about money and to learn.

Throughout the book she posts little rules to live by when it comes to money.

I've included some of them here.

She ends it by encouraging you to give, not out of your poverty as that will never help you get ahead, but out of your abundance and how the act will release you to the rewards of being able to 'love' money for its worth and what it can do not just for you but for others in the world.

We may not all become millionaires or huge investors on the stock exchange but with educated decisions we can become rich - enough to share - and so to have enjoyment and peace.

We have the courage to be rich, to be in control and so not have money control us.

Going back to the verse I first mentioned -

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Yes the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil when it is a selfish desire to have it for your own means. But God wants to bless us and in that we will have an abundance.

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:2 New International Version

You may well say - well that's not for all people and what about those who are starving and struggling with afflictions that we may never have to experience. When we are rich then out of that abundance we can give to others. Having a love of money to be able to be in the position to give is something we should all desire. The act of giving is not evil and to give in a financial way means to have a loving respect of money to be able to work for God and you.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (NIV) 
Generosity Encouraged 
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: 
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”  
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

All scripture is taken from New International Version

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lemon Cordial

We used to have a huge lemon tree. At anytime of the year you could go out and find at least one or two lemons suitable to be used. Unfortunately that tree just sort of died over two years and so now we are desperately trying to coax a new one to grow. In the mean time I have to ask other friends and neighbours for the odd lemon or two. As a result of the lovely supply of lemons and living on a budget, I found this recipe and have used it to make a refreshing drink.
The cordial is high in sugar but it is watered down to drink and will actually go a long way.

3 cup sugar
4 cups boiling water
½ cup lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp grated lemon rind
1 ½ Tbsp tartaric acid

Bring the water to the boil and stir in the sugar.
Turn off the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the lemon juice, rind and tartaric acid and mix well.
Once cooled strain and pour into a screw top bottle.
Keep in the fridge.
This will keep in the fridge for a few months.

Dilute to taste.
I use about 1/6 of juice to the volume of container you are using to make up the cordial. It’s a matter of taste really. Serve with ice and maybe sprigs of mint.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Driving with Thelma... To Christchurch and Back. (Part 5)

Continuing with our trip from part 1part 2,  part 3,  and part 4

The last leg of the journey; nearly home….

If you have been following these entries you will want to know how it ended. I can tell you now that all was OK, but do read it anyway…

We woke early on Saturday morning. One could say we had a plane to catch but it was just as well it was for someone else not us because we would have missed it.
We were meeting Don at Wellington Airport.
Thelma had decided while in Christchurch that she (so that meant ‘we’) couldn’t drive home so we would need someone to do it for us. I had insisted that I could do it. This was why God had planned for me to be there; but Thelma cannot be talked around.
She paid for Don to fly down from Tauranga to drive us home. I had managed to change it to have him meet us in Wellington rather than Christchurch as it would have cost a fortune in flights and ferry tickets and Thelma let me change her mind.

So we rose with my alarm – well I did and she did eventually and walked Pepper. Thelma didn’t want to travel with my directions to the airport and insisted on using the GPS. I would have chosen the beautiful peaceful trip around the bays but the GPS sent us through town and the tunnel. And we arrived at the airport late - only half an hour.

The car park is huge and parking is always at a premium so we just went straight to "pick up".
Now either the signs are not clear or some people cannot follow instructions but suffice to say we didn’t go to the right part to meet/pick up Don.
“How odd!” I hear you say.
We ended up in a sort of ‘no go’ place for traffic unless you are a taxi, and a nice taxi driver tried to direct us to the right place. But some people just don’t seem to listen or follow instructions – do you know anyone like that?
OK we phoned Don and I called out to him when I saw him – someone I had never met before but could see it was him even if ‘others’ couldn’t… that sort of “Where are you look?”
With a sigh of relief – not too loud you understand – Thelma got into the back seat with Pepper and Don took over.

We filled with petrol and the offering of ice blocks (not at 8.30 in the morning thanks Thelma, before we have even had breakfast) and then we were on our way home. I could hardly wait to be in the safety and comfort of Harry’s arms. He informed me by txt that he would be there waiting….

Don decided that the first thing we would do would be to sort out the broken/missing side mirror. “No, you can’t do that. It’s an insurance Job.” Thelma said. Don just said he was not driving all the way to Tirau without one.

We stopped just out of Plimmerton for Peppers first comfort stop under a lot of flowering Pohutukawa. I had recently read in the Good magazine  that they were flowering in splendour this year.

We finally stopped for some breakfast at Paraparaumu at a little café called “Love a Coffee At the Palms” I just had a cheese scone and flat white while the others had eggs and bacon. We sat outside enjoying the late morning sun it was 9.45am.

It’s amazing what a man can do. I wish I had taken a pic, but Don bought an $8 curved mirror and a roll of strong tape from Repco at Otaki and taped up the mirror to the padded broken mirror, the mechanic had sorted for us at the time of the accident, and we had a side mirror far better than the BMW one, even if we did say so ourselves.

So from there on we just drove. On the Foxton straights we came upon a car that was being driven quite erratically. After following it for a while and watching it weave from one side of the road to the other sometimes going over the white lines Don decided it was time to let the police know and dialed *555. After talking to the traffic control center they asked for Don to stay on the line and keep a safe distance behind the car in front. So Don passed the phone to me and we followed the vehicle as it still continued to weave sometimes almost into oncoming traffic and I gave the police names of roads we passed. They had dispatched a police car and they wanted us to keep in contact with them and the offending car. When they finally caught up (Coming from the opposite direction) with their lights flashing, they pulled the car over. We were also asked to stay until the issue was sorted. It turned out that it was an elderly woman who had been on the road for a while and was contemplating a stop further up the road at Bulls. The police officer informed us that he hoped being pulled over would make her realise she was endangering others with her driving.

One really wonders how much one can have in adventures in a simple trip to Christchurch and back. I'm sure if we were a couple of young reckless teenagers we could have chosen to get up to a whole lot more mischief but we didn't plan for any of this!

We stopped at Taihape for a late lunch then continued on, stopping to have a good look at where the accident had been and take more photos of the mountains on the desert road.

We had another stop on the banks of Lake Taupo where there seemed to be a lot of different groups of people enjoying the waters in some way or another.

I must admit it was nice to sit and just relax while Don helped sort out Pepper with Thelma. I could just sort of forget about everything and just take in the scenery.

It is so easy to get caught up in the "stuff" going on around you, either the good and the bad, that you forget to stop and take a moment to really appreciate what is just there around you.
The events of the last week were certainly 'different' from anything I have experienced before and a bit of a learning curve for me in seeing the way other people are - to them quite normal. 

Sitting quietly on my own while Pepper was being catered for I came across a little family of Mallard ducks swimming by - well Mum and two ducklings. It was fun to watch her take them onto the lake and go out for a paddle. I couldn't help wonder what had happened to 'dad' and the other ducklings. They usually have at least eight ducklings in a clutch.

And for that reason I didn't even mentioned them to any dog owners near me for fear of having the last of her family disappear. I know it's a natural existence in the wild but I didn't want to be the cause of any more grief for this 'lady'.
I could almost relate with her in the fates we endure.

Back in the car (Don did all the driving from Wellington to Tirau - I did ask but he said he was fine) we made our last lap home stopping at Z Tauhara a new petrol station on the Taupo bypass. And why do I mention that - because they had the best petrol station toilets I had seen for awhile... and when you are traveling that means a lot.

Finally we arrive safely home driving through our gate and Harry was out to meet us.

I introduced Don to him and we unloaded my bag, pillow and jacket from the back of the car. I don’t know why she let her do it, but Thelma let Pepper out of the car without a leash and in a few short seconds Pepper had cornered on of our chooks and although she didn’t kill it there were feathers enough to stuff a cushion all around the lawn. We picked up the poor hen thinking at first it was dead but she was just in shock. Pepper was caught and put back into the BMW after it was sure she had “done her business”.

So now I really felt like it was time to just go our separate ways so with a brief hug and word of thanks Thelma and Don went on to their places and Harry and I just relaxed.

And what did I learn in all this?
I don’t know!!!
I will say that I believe I was to be there to support Thelma through it all. She may not have wanted me to drive but there were consequences for that and hopefully people will see that you need to take breaks when driving long distances. My patience was tested almost to the extreme and looking back I feel I sort of ‘passed’ but would add that it’s easy to see and say that now, but at the time it took a lot of talking to myself to control myself.

Would I do it again?
It’s hard to say.
It was lovely seeing and spending time with Katrina – even if it meant spending so much time helping her shift, but then it was great to be able to be there to help.
I was also able to have a brief time with Theresa and Kate.
But I would not want to do that trip again. No not at all.
So it’s a hard question to answer.

 It now seems a long time ago really though only a month so time is a great healer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Driving with Thelma... To Christchurch and Back. (Part 4)

Continuing on from the previous post of our trip...

I thought coming home would be a lot less eventful – but no not really.
We were to leave Christchurch at 5.00am and so I was packed and ready the night before, so I just needed to get up and shower the next morning.
It was a lovely morning and I even managed some breakfast and my bible reading.
At 5.20am I got a txt from Thelma to say that somehow her GPS had her on the road to Timaru (that’s 157 kilometres southwest of Christchurch – we are going north) so she would be a bit late.

I thought that might now make the trip a little pushing to get to the ferry in time if anything else happened and prayed that we would make it with no problems. I snuggled on top of the bed with Katrina for a last sort of goodbye. I don’t know when I will see her next so just a bit sad.

Finally Thelma arrived with the help of directions from her son at the local police station – must have been by phone so goodness only knows what they all thought of that – being police officers!!! Thelma wanted to drive "just to build her confidence" she said and so we started the journey to Picton.
As usual she chatted all the way and I settled into concentrating on the road and what she was doing with her hands and the gadgets while we drove.

We arrived at Cheviot (which is 114 km north of Christchurch and 72 km south of Kaikoura on State Highway 1) at 8.00am so we had made good time. We had to let Pepper out for her usual time to do her “business” and have drink. Thelma had not had her breakfast so she wanted to find something to eat. After checking one café that didn’t meet her needs we found The Paddock Café and Bar and had a nice filled roll and coffee.

I was then able to drive and Thelma continued to talk as we journeyed on with Thelma being a little worried at anything a little different in the road and not really being confident with my driving. She had contacted me a few days ago saying that she was going to get Don (a friend) down to drive us home at quiet an extra expense. I was able to persuade her to at least let me drive to Picton and then we could cross on the ferry. I suggested that maybe the reason why I had come with her was because I was going to be needed to drive the car for her. Not that God made the accident happen but He knew there was a need for me to be there.
Picton Terminal

So we were going to make our way to the ferry, cross over and have tea with Theresa and her family and then spend the night at my parents. We would then drive to the airport and pick up Don from the airport where he would drive us home. Straight forward enough surely…

Well I managed to have Thelma let me take charge with only one more stop for Pepper and we got to the ferry at 12.00 with plenty of time. We waited in line, Pepper had another walk and we were on board by 1.00pm for the 1.15 sailing.
Thelma out on deck

Once again Thelma managed to get a kennel for Pepper even though this time we were inside the boat. Up in the premier lounge again we settled in and had some lunch; macaroni cheese and salad and/or rice and beef goulash.
In the Kaitaki Plus lounge
And we waited.
 We waited and waited and finally over the loud speak came the request for drivers of certain vehicles to return to their cars etc… surely not us. No it wasn’t us but Thelma had to just go and check. It turned out that the ferry was once again fully booked and the loading of cars had not been ‘tight’ enough so some vehicles needed to be moved closer together to allow the full capacity of cars etc. to be loaded on.

Finally ¾ hour late we left Picton. The captain announced that he was sorry but the tide was with us and we would be using full throttle so he hoped to make up time and be there by 4.55pm.
Salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds

It was a lovely sunny day with a smooth trip.

Seal just surfacing (far right)
Out on deck at one stage we saw a poor seal swimming close by but every time it surfaced for air a flock of seagulls would try to attack it.

The captain was right, we were in our cars waiting to disembark by 4.55pm so we had made up 25 minutes, just as well you don’t get tickets for speeding on the water!

As we left a friendly crew member waved out to me with a 'thumbs up' and I smiled with raised eyebrows as we drove off. I had met him when we first drove on and parked inside the ferry and we had chatted about my journey so far while Thelma had fussed around. He had been part of the crew to make sure everyone sort of got out of their vehicles and made their way upstairs and so because of our delay he was checking to see we were alright. Thelma saw his smile and thumbs up and remarked that, "You have a friend there Fiona, what have you been up to?" hmm, if only she really knew!

We popped up to my parents leaving Pepper safely inside to rest and then enjoyed tea at Theresa and her family's so I could have lots of cuddles with darling Kate.

We had another early start tomorrow to pick up Don from the airport so didn't stay too long.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In Christchurch With Katrina

After the trip down it was nice to now be able to spend just on a week with Katrina but I hadn’t thought it would be filled so much with shifting her from one flat to another.

Fortunately one of the flatmates had left already, bagging up all his things but not taking them with him yet. So I had a bed that Katrina made up in his old room on my own, so that was pleasant.

I knew that the flat she and a few others were in had to have some EQC repairs on it and they had to vacate it by the end of the week.
It seems to be an on-going shift around the city. As one home is fixed another somewhere eles has to be vacated for its new repairs. Just down the road from the new flat Katrina was moving into, the repairs were in full force. CERA (pronounced Sarah) is still at work helping and sorting all the issues that still exist after the devastating earthquakes February 22nd 2011, and one in September 2010.

Katrina had a room in her new flat but even that was just for a short time as it too was being vacated. It was a place for her to live at until she found somewhere else more permanent, knowing with the new University year looming there would be places available.

Unfortunately it turned out that in the end it would just be her and another guy at the first flat to do the entire final clean up and organisation of getting rid of stuff. 
There were plenty of things to be done before the bond would be repaid and as Katrina wants that it seemed to be that she would have to work for it even if the others would get it too without putting anything towards it.

I spent a lot of my time cleaning a 'flat' oven, fridge, washing machine and a few windows, walls etc.

The young lady who was renting out her room at the new flat for Katrina (at a reduced rate because she had had to find someone to help pay it as she had already found and moved into her new place) had to fly out of town for a few days, so she let me use her car.

She asked if I would be able to drop her off at the airport and I said that I was the least I could do seeing as how she was lending me her car. I dropped her at the airport feeling happy God saw our plight and blessed us with a set of wheels.(Thank you Jo)

In fact I don’t know how we would have coped without them. We took stuff to the dump and boxes of other things left behind around to the garage of the new flat. We also had to find a Post office to have mail redirected and other errands. I was even able to pick Katrina up from work one late night and we were able to just get a lot more things done. Katrina was able to stride around places (well she calls it walking with me literally trotting along beside her on my shorter legs - so I call her gait "striding") but although the walking was good for me within time my dodgy knee was starting to play up.

I had spent the day before shifting day looking for boxes at one of the supermarkets (One of Katrina’s friends had suggested this – thanks Gini) and the guy in the flat helped me pick them up. I did wonder if we would get everything boxed up and sorted but somehow we did. Well Katrina did, in between working at Overland and telling me she could do it.
For the day Katrina had to move out I had phoned and asked my cousin if he knew of a car and trailer we could borrow as I couldn’t use Thelma’s especially after the accident or even ask if it was available. Clive got back to me and offered his truck and I said yes knowing we would get a lot more on.

Little did I know it was going to be a beautiful old 1940s Chevy flat deck truck.

It was a beautiful day and we started to load up all her belongings.

Finally some of the friends who said they would help turned up and also loaded boxes etc into their car. It took two truckloads (well one and half really) and the car and it was all done. We farewelled Clive and thanked him for the truck and all his help.

Katrina and some of the guys had a beer – as you do - Katrina's first and last so she tells me. I must admit she agreed with me "Why would you drink something you don't like the taste of just because everyone else does?" I mean really, Why?

I was happy with my water but joined in the fun and laughter.

So then there is all the unpacking to do again.

This time it seemed Katrina and I would have to share a bed but Jo also said I could use her mattress and shifted it in from the garage. So once again God blessed us. I am not sure where Jo was sleeping as she wasn't at the flat and wasn't using her bed but then that's not my business or for me to reason. If God wanted to supply me with a bed I was not to try and 'work it out'.

I encouraged Katrina not to unpack too much as she would have to be repacking it all again in less than a month.  I also suggested that the boxes she did unpack she flattened and slid under her bed.

The new flat has a pool and seemed to get uninvited visitors like any place with a pool does!

The water was quite green to start with so I wasn’t keen for a dip even though it was pretty hot.

In between all the shifting Katrina worked and I manage to have a bit of fun, not much resting and reading but I had hot chocolates and coffee with her at the mall.

I even dreamed of a new pair of shoes. Funnily enough Katrina said she had thought they were 'Mumsey's kind of shoe' when she first saw them in the shop.

The morning after we were in the new flat we were woken just before 7.00am with a rocking and noise and I knew even though I had not experienced Christchurch's previous shakes that once again it was being rocked by a size 6 earthquake. The thing about a quake is that you are completely at the mercy of it and your surroundings. You can not stop it or even control it - it controls you.

How long will it last?
Will it get bigger?
At what stage do I get under something safe?
Fortunately this one was actually centered a far way away from Christchurch itself even though it was quite strong.

So of course to recover from something like that one needs a little cake!

On the last night we managed a trip into the CBD.

It is still bare in places where the buildings have been pulled down and not as yet rebuilt, some places still with piles of rubble and a sense still that one isn't quite sure where you are. I did notice that the fences around the Cathedral had closed in further around it so things must be improving there too.

But there are places coming alive with a “new” Christchurch, one that is evolving into the city that has survived.

Here we looked around the tram station and restaurant area.

Once again I thought there is so much of Christchurch that I havn't discovered or expereinced.

Next time maybe...