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.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mittens and Hood

Sarah asked me to make a hood like one she had bought for Isla. Then she thought some mittens would be good too so I said you buy the wool and I'll do it. She ended up getting two different colours and this is the first set.

I didn't have a pattern for the hood so it took a lot of measuring and designing but eventually I came up with the design on the right. The hood Sarah had bought had long knitted ties that tied up under the chin but as she didn't really use them I thought  a buttoned strap would be quick and easy and able to keep the hood on.

I had a couple of patterns for mittens but only one with a 'thumb' so I made up the smallest size. Once made I could tell they would be too big (the ones in the bottom of the pic) so I adapted it to a smaller size and made a second pair thinking she could grow into the first pair.

Once I had them finished and gave then to her we found the first mittens fitted Sean and the other two wanted me to knit them a pair each with their choice of colours so the next few days will be knitting days.

I am half way through a second hood for Isla and the mittens in a lovely lavender colour, but being small they don't take long and with the pending rainy cold weather coming on it will be good days for me inside knitting.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Here we are again ...

Goodness once again I have let the things that I like to do fall by the way.

Today we have been busy going to WINZ to re-apply for the sickness benefit for Harry at an 8.30am! appointment. We slept in so only got there four minutes late. Fortunately they weren't quiet ready for us either. It all went well and was able to be back in time for me to get to work only a few minutes late.

After work I was home and caught up on some house work and got some washing out. Even though it rained, most of it was almost dry before the rain fell and its now over the old wooden drying rack by the wood burner.

I have spent some time reading a ladies blog and was motivated to get back to my own.
I know different people all around the world read it and either try a recipe, smile over some of my comments or generally keep up to-date with my goings on. (I will try to be more active with it.)

The other day I was travelling to Hamilton for a course I go to and every second Tuesday I call on Sarah and the family for the afternoon and tea before hand which has been really great. This particular day I was intrigued by the mixture of clouds above as if the weather wasn't quite sure what to do.

I found myself almost feeling the same.

Life has been different for us over the last year (yes its been a year) since Harry left work on the advice of his doctor because of the way he was being treated. We have had to change the things we do and cut down on spending and we manage, but I have also found that my life and what is important has changed as well.

Its hard to explain what I mean by this but I find myself really wanting to have a simple life in all things. The feeling of cherishing the people and things that are important in life rather than the superfluous things. I don't want to do or be involved in unnecessary time wasting activities, to enjoy the things I have rather than strive to gain something I think I need because others have it and just slow down and notice what is around me.

I stopped and took the pic of the clouds and smiled as I thought about what it was reminding me of. I find that God often speaks to me from the clouds. I know that may seem odd but I find looking up, so I am not affected by 'stuff' that is going on around me, I can fade it all out and just focus on God and He speaks to me - or maybe it's that I then hear what He is saying.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Is it good or is it bad?

We have had hens since Harry's father passed away over 15 years ago when we took home his red shaver hens. As they have passed away we have added to them with other peoples 'cast offs' over the years. Currently we have two black and three small brown hens.

We shut them up at night to keep them safe and into the morning as that is when they tend to lay their eggs, but let then out to roam around the section during the day to scratch and eat what ever they want. Apart from popping over the neighbours fence to eat, their neighbours bread crusts (that she tosses over for them) they keep within our section. In fact they don't seem to even like going out to the road preferring to just jump the fence.

Although they have a perfectly good run and hutch with a nesting box they often prefer to lay the eggs somewhere else around the section where we can't find them.

Over the last few weeks there have been no eggs which meant I had to buy some for the first time in ages. Some of the hens look a little worse for wear. As they are molting a bit, we just presumed they were going through their break time. After awhile we thought it was add that none of them were laying and have been wondering about finding some more hens.

The other day Harry removed some of the netting around one of my flower gardens as I had put in some new plants earlier and wanted them to establish themselves a bit before the hens got in and scratched around. To our surprise there was a 'nest' fill of eggs, tucked right down the far end of the part that had been fenced off. (Who said hens were dumb)

There were 14 eggs of a couple of different colours and sizes so it wasn't just one hen using it!

We gathered them up being careful not to break any as if they were rotten the smell would have been awful. I cleaned them with a cloth as best I could and tried the float test. If you float an egg in a container of water it should sink or sit on the bottom.

If it floats or bobs up it is fill of gas and rotten. Here's an explanation:

When an egg starts to go "off" decomposition occurs. Decomposition gives off gases. As more of the egg decomposes, more of its mass is converted to gases. A gas bubble forms inside the egg so an older egg floats on its end. However, eggs are porous, so some of the gas escapes through the egg shell and is lost to the atmosphere. Although gases are light, they do have mass and affect the density of the egg. When enough gas is lost, the density of the egg is less than that of water and the egg floats.

Fortunately there was only 1 that floated although a couple sort of stood on end in the bottom of the bowl so I will bake with them and just break them into a saucer for a 'smell' test before actually using them!

But it was such a joy to find eggs which meant that they were still laying! Haven't found anymore since so they may have found a different spot.

It is not unusual for them to find places hidden away but we usually find them either because we see the hens coming out of their secret places and think "Hmmm what have you been doing in there?" or just come across the clutch of eggs while working around the garden. We notice that they like to considered themselves safe and hidden away so are usually against the walls of the house but under plants for protection above.

One spot that they seem to go back to even when we have found the eggs and cleared them out, is behind a clump of bulbs under a rose bush. It's a nice little warm protective spot against the house and to be honest is quite difficult to collect the eggs from. As I negotiate one rose branch another will stab my in the wrist. Not only do they use it for laying eggs but our cat will also pop in there for a rest, presumably because the feathers the hens lose over time make the nest comfortable. Or maybe its a handy spot to watch out for mice. And as I have said before there are a few different hens who use it as when we collect the eggs there are the nice big brown ones and the little skinny white ones.

Sometimes if there are no eggs being laid and there is a hen permanently sitting on the nest in the nesting box we will shut them away in our 'behavioural management box'. This is an old air vent cover that sits directly on the ground. There are vents at the side to let in air and a little light but basically the hens are shut in there with a large container of water for a few days for them to get over their need to 'sit'. Once let out they will normally go back to be a hen with a sense of freedom but if they go back to 'sitting' they get put in the box for another few days!

Don't get me wrong its not being cruel so don't go calling the SPCA. It's just to help them break the habit as there are no roosters in our flock to fertilize any eggs so there is no need for them to incubate any eggs.

Our hens are almost family.

In fact they are even known to come inside especially if it is nearly feeding time and Harry has got a bit late getting out to them. They seem to like routines so will let us know if we are late.

One even likes to get in and eat the cat biscuits if it can.
We have had to keep the back door closed because if it sees it open it makes a be-line for the door and in to peck at the cat bowl. Unfortunately it is not always in a hurry to go back out side when we find it so it has to be a gradual coax to leave so it's not frightened and so leave a little deposits on its way!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Giving It Away

Sometimes when I am tired and the weather is wet and cold or my knees are really playing up, I just wish we didn't have to skimp and save so we can just live.

But today I read this article of a family who are choosing not to use the supermarket and I suddenly felt a shot of encouragement.

Outside the feijoas are falling thick and I feel a certainly responsibility to do something with them all and not have them go to waste. The vegetable garden is also looking a bit soggy and worse for wear after the rains and wind of Cyclone Cook.

In fact a lot of the vegetables have seen better days and I am picking around them to find good parts and produce to eat. There is still plenty and I have already got some greens in for the cooler winter months.

I did realise that for the last month the only produce I have bought at the shops have been bananas.

So today I decided to let myself off by giving away some of our surplus. I have clambered under the feijoas and filled 16 bags, picked 8 huge silver-beet leaves and have left them all at the gate to see what will happen.

We wrote a sign saying "free" with a smiley face - then added "produce" as Harry didn't want the pallet or the bucket going too! I pondered putting a donation box but the box may walk away!!!

We will wait and see if the items go for someone else to enjoy otherwise we might have to try something else.

So if you are passing Bear Street in Tirau - help yourself!.