Encounter with a Stranger

Circular Quay

It started off simply enough. I had to catch a bus from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to Circular Quay to meet my sister after my appointment. I wasn’t sure if the bus that I was about to catch went all the way to the Quay or if I had to change so I asked the woman sitting at the bus stop if she knew. We started chatting and as the conversation went on much to her surprise she found I not only knew where the little country town where she had grown up was, but that I had done a 4 week prac teaching assignment there back in the 70′s.

The conversation continued and as we talked about why we were at the hospital and shared more of our stories I mentioned how wonderful the people in my church have been over the times I have been out of action over the last few years, and that my relationship with God was the thing that had kept me going through the trials I had experienced. She was blown away that I was a Christian and proceeded to tell me how over the previous week she’d had 3 random encounters with Christians and each time she came away feeling that it wasn’t an accident that the conversations had taken place.

We boarded the bus and continued to chat. She was concerned that I might miss my stop so didn’t get off at the stop she had been going to, but rode with me to mine. As we stood on the pavement I told her that I’d be praying for the situation she was going to be encountering today and as we said goodbye we hugged and she said with tears in her eyes that I would never know how much our conversation had meant to her.

So Leah I have been praying for you since Tuesday and especially for the situation today. I know the Lord has his hand on you and am so glad that a simple question about where a bus went lead to our encounter. You touched me and you never know we might meet again.

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Highs and Lows

I’m currently part of a trial into a new drug for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. As part of this trial there are certain things I have to record each day on a mini computer thingy (don’t you love my understanding of electronic hardwear?). Apart from things like what time I woke  up and what time I took my tablets I have to try and record more subjective things like how long the stiffness lasted in the morning ( hard to assess and remember)  rating my greatest tiredness level and rating my highest pain level over the day.

Having to pay so much attention to how I’m feeling on a daily basis has really made me aware of the highs and lows I experience each day.

Take today for instance.  When I woke up  after a restless night I was horrifed to see that it was 9am. Definately a low!

I had to be at church by 9.30 ish as I was on the music roster this morning . Not only was I absolutely exhausted I had to throw together some things to take to a surprize BBQ birthday lunch for Shane after the service was finished. I skipped my shower as I figured I might go in the water later in the day if it wasn’t too rough ( we were told to bring our water gear ) then tried desperately to work out what to wear, butter a couple of slices of bread and grab a sausage and a drink from the fridge and get into the car and to church in time. Naturally when I’m  in a hurry the normally simple task of deciding what to wear becomes a huge problem and i ended up looking a bit crumpled as I hadn’t got around to ironing my linen skirt ( that’s what happens when you procrastinate). All in all I was feeling pretty flustered by the time I got there. More lows.

I love being part of the music team and the service nearly always lifts my spirits so I was feeling much better by the time we were finished. High.

We met up at Narrawallee Inlet for lunch-its a beautiful place and the picnic area is lovely with free electric BBQs to use. It looked like it was going to pour but turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon. I chatted and enjoyed the chance to relax with friends. After a while Shane and Emma’s little boy Jethro wanted to go to the beach so I had the joy of taking him there where I wrote his name in the sand and we drew pictures of flowers (he’s only 2).  I love the fact that Jethro knows my name and I get to spend time with him and his baby sister Annie . More highs.

As the afternoon wore on I went with a couple of others to the beach and the other Cathie and I squealed and laughed like teenagers as we gingerly ventured  into the water. It was cool but glorious once you were wet. The sky was deep blue, the ocean shades of blue and green then becoming clear as the waves ebbed and flowed on the sand. An eagle soared effortlessly overhead and it was one of those magical moments you can carry in your memory forever. I am so grateful that God made us able to appreciate the beauty of His creation! Absolute high!

Now as I sit at my computer typing this the exhaustion and discomfort are with me again . Lows.

Highs and Lows. The lows are made more beareable by the highs.

Services-Narrawallee-Inlet

 

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Memories of Christmas Past – 1961

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Christmas has always been one of my very favourite times of the year. Apart from the ‘reason for the season’ which is after all the most important thing of all to me as a Christian – I love the sights, the sounds, the smells and the excitment of this special time of the year.

I thought after the heaviness of my last couple of posts I might write a lighter one.

CHRISTMAS PAST -1961

The house is heavy with the knowledge of secrets hidden in special places. Wrapping paper crackles as presents are made into colourful parcels.Is it time to put up the Christmas tree yet? At last we dance around impatiently as it comes out of storage and the beautiful sparkly ornaments are unpacked and placed ever so carefully on the tree. We take turns hanging them and reach high to place them in just the right place. Oh it looks so beautiful !

The Christmas cake and pudding have been mixed together then baked scenting the house with their rich aroma weeks earlier and are now maturing away in preparation for their triumphant unveiling. My favourite shortbread has been made and is filling the biscuit tin. If I’m lucky Mum will take pity on me and let me have a piece or two before Christmas Day as a special treat. A few days before Christmas she carefully ices the cake  and places it in pride of place in the middle of the table in the dining room.

Nai and I have helped put up the decorations and spent hours folding crepe paper strips into chains to hang and we feel proud and excited as we gaze on the transformed loungeroom and dining room. Cards have been sent and are arriving from friends and relations both near and far and Mum has pinned them to the curtains in the dining room and placed them along the curtain rails in the loungeroom.

Will Santa bring us the present we have asked for? Anticipation builds and excitment fizzes in our veins. Nai and I try desperately to keep the secrets we have been entrusted with… it’s sooo hard and we listen to each other like hawks to try to head off any untoward slips of the tongue.

At last it’s Christmas Eve.

Mum is busy all day cooking and preparing the hot dinner we’ll have that evening. We get in her way and  exasperate her with our excitment and impatience. Funny I don’t remember her ever getting mad at us though.

Dad gets home from work and at long last we sit around the table and enjoy the traditional roast meal. After the washing up is done we watch a Christmas special on the TV. Nai and I stretched out on the rug with our heads propped up on our elbows. We are tired but so excited! Bed time at last. We put out some lemonade,a glass and a plate next to the Christmas cake for Santa and leave a carrot for his reindeer- I guess they must get so many carrots that they take turns in eating them ’cause I don’t think one carrot is going to go far with that many reindeer. We hang our pillowcases on the back of chairs  placed next to each other in the middle of the loungeroom….hopefully the next time we see them they’ll have presents from Santa in them. Dad closes the doors into the loungeroom….they can’t be opened now until the official opening in the morning and the patterned glass ensures that no amount of trying to see through by an early riser will allow any glimpses of the bounty within.

I toss and turn in bed. I get up and go to the toilet. I toss and turn. I get up to get a glass of water only to be sent back to bed with a stern ‘ Santa only comes when you are asleep -go to sleep!’ Suddenly the gray early morning light  filters through the curtains in my room. I get up and go into Mum and Dad’s room… “Can we get up yet?” Mum and Dad tell me to go and get Nai and they, poor things, drag thenselves out of bed. Goodness knows what time they got to sleep. They had to wait till Nai and I were asleep before they could do Santa’s work for him.

Nai and I dance around impatiently waiting for Dad to open the loungeroom doors.It seems to take forever for Mum and Dad to be ready.Finally they are opened and we can enter the room. There is a moment of stunned silence as we gaze at the beauty within. Presents heaped beneath the tree and pillowcases with interesting bulges delight our eyes….he came! Santa came! A quick glance at the dining table shows bites out of the carrot, a few dregs of lemonade in the glass, a big slice of Christmas cake cut out of the cake and crumbs on the plate.

Mum and Dad sit in the armchairs with a cup of tea while Nai and I take the presents out of our pillowcases. Our joy and excitment is loud – our delight fills the room. Then its time to open the presents under the tree. We take turns ….. waiting  to see how each gift is received. The pile of  paper grows and the air bubbles with delight.

At last we get dragged away to have breakfast and get ready for church. I put on the new Christmas dress that Mum has made me. It will be one of my favourites and I’ll remember it over the years.I feel very swish. The day stretches before me…. when we get home from church there’ll be our Christmas Day feast of cold meat and salad, pavlova and Christmas pudding, nuts,sweets and shortbread to eat. Christmas Carols will form a background to the day.Visits to Grandma and neighbours and time to play with my gifts. The Christmas telephone call to Nanny and Grandad far away in the New England. Leftovers for tea  and then to bed. Next year there’ll be a new baby sister to celebrate with as well.

Memories to last a lifetime.

I am blessed.

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Reflections on Grief 4 years on

8 days ago it was 4 years since Mum’s death. I’ve been wanting to write this post since then but found it difficult to actually sit down and write about it. What can I say as I chronicle how I’m feeling this far down the track?

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sue Welsh who is currently doing a doctorate on roadside memorials so I got to talk through what happened and my feelings about  pretty much everything connected with her death both previously and now – so in some ways I thought it would be easier on the day as I had already had a time of reflection.

I guess I was thinking that it would be a sad day but that it wouldn’t be as emotional this year. The day followed the pattern I have set (except for last year when I was in hospital and hardly even aware of it) In the morning I picked a beautiful pink rosebud from a friends garden and drove out to the place that she died. I parked the car and as I got out to place it I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by a huge sense of loss. Tears welled as I cried out to her how much I missed her, how much I wanted a hug, how much I wanted her comfort with all the things that are overwhelming me. After a few minutes I was able to return to the car and  I got back in and prepared to drive  to the cemetery to lay the other rose that I had picked. I had attached a card to this one and after a great deal of thought I had written the words ‘ We’ll never stop missing you Mum” on it and signed it from my brother, my sister and myself. When I got to the cemetery I placed it on her grave and then took a flower from the crimson carpet rose that Dad has planted there and went home.

Talking to Sue made me realise that I felt a much greater sense of connection with Mum at the site of her death rather than at the cemetery. I guess it’s because that is where her soul left her body…. the last point of connection with HER, not her mortal remains. 8 days ago I also realised that in a sense my grief now is a very selfish thing. The shock is gone now, the emotions aren’t as raw. What I am left with now is how her death has affected ME.

There is also the sadness that she hasn’t got to meet and know the great-grandchildren that she would have loved so much and they haven’t got to know her. I grieve for my father who while getting on with living his life fully never stops missing and aching for her. I know my siblings miss her as do her grandchildren….so I guess I’m not being totally self-centred here but my main emotions are still to do with ME-my loss,my needs.

Does it sound crazy to say that before I missed her presence more but now I miss her comfort and love more?  I think guilt is an ongoing  part of my grief now too… I am so aware of the times I wasn’t there for her. The times when I know she was hurt because weeks went by without me even thinking to call her. The knowledge that she probably felt unloved by me at times….. guilt for my self absorption and lack of thoughtfulness. And yet this is a fairly normal part of life that most parents have to face as their children are making their own lives in the world.

I suspect that as the years go by that even though it will always be a sad day that I will probably be less affected emotionally. I guess I need to think about why I miss her so much…. it was because she was a good and loving mother who while not perfect did her best.

I love you Mum

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Life isn’t fair but God is good!

Romans 8:35-37
New Living Translation (NLT)
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves you.
 
Only about a month after my last post I ended up in hospital having a microdiscectomy on my lower back. About 10 days in hospital followed by 6 weeks of severely restricted activity. Then the realisation that the operation hadn’t been as successful as I had hoped. I was very blessed that I was cared for by some wonderful friends while I was out of action and in fact lived with them while I was recovering.
 
Then as the friends who had lent me their unit were returning to Australia and nothing had worked out in finding somewhere else to live, roughly 12 months ago I decided to move to Gunnedah to stay with my recently widowed aunt and try to get some casual work in the area. On the drive up I was careful in stopping every couple of hours to stretch my back and stayed overnight at my cousin’s place at Newcastle. All should have been well with my back – should have been but wasn’t.
 
After a couple of weeks of agony, physio, and massage I was advised to see a neurosurgeon again. As the nearest one was hours away I decided that the best thing to do would be to return to Ulladulla and make an appointment with the neurosurgeon who had operated on my back. Leaving my car up there I made the journey back by train, breaking it up to make the journey as easy as possible.
 
I think it was only a few days after arriving that I was admitted to Milton hospital ( I don’t have any memory of the first few days). From there I was sent to Shoalhaven Hospital where I was receiving rehab and pain management. One day as I was in the ward my bad leg gave way and I slid into the bed opposite and totally smashed my shoulder…. next stop was Nowra private where I had a  shoulder replacement ! From there I was sent to Berry Rehab hospital where I spent the next 7 weeks. In total I was in hospital for just on 3 months getting out towards the end of January this year.
Panda eyes
Hope you aren’t getting bored reading this long litany of bad experiences….. unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. The damage done to my shoulder was so severe that I am left with restricted movement and constant pain. I have been learning to live with that only to be diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis……and am now in the process of  trying to get it under control.
 
Through all this I have stuggled with feelings of self pity, abandonment and grief for the loss of not just my health but my marriage, my home, my security,money stuggles and loneliness. I’ve screamed out to God …. I’ve wondered why this all had to happen to ME!!!!  Surely I’ve been through enough I’ve demanded. How come after looking after John for all the years he was an invalid I’m left to deal with all this by myself????? Why isn’t he looking after me now I’m in need ????
 
The real question though is WHY NOT?  Am I more deserving of protection from the difficulties of life than someone born in a ghetto in India? Or someone who tries to eke out  a living in Ethiopia? Or someone who lost everything and all their family in the Boxing Day Tsumami? Or a child sold into slavery in Thailand? Of course I’m not.
LIFE ISN’T FAIR……. but through the trials and pain and loss I’ve experienced, as I’ve called out to God , the blessings have come and been there as long as I take my eyes off myself and see them.
 
I’ve had family and friends who have gone out of their way to care for me. My dear friend Jacqui made the trip up to Berry to see me at least once a week and called me every day for the 7 weeks I was there.  Christians from my and other churches moved my belongings into the  flat I am renting and set it up for me to come out of hospital to (one lovely couple even bought a washing machine and fridge for me to use). I didn’t have to cook  for about the first 6 weeks as  people dropped meals off to me and visited. I was able to call on a number of people to take me to doctor and physio visits.
I’ve been reminded again and again that I need to keep my eyes on the Lord, that as I seek Him and rely on him the fear and loneliness recede. He has provided the things I’ve needed – through family and friends in many cases but in others in amazing ways. An example of this is finding the granny flat. I wasn’t going to be released from hospital until I had somewhere suitable to go. Finding cheap accommodation isn’t easy in this area and yet I saw this unit advertised online through an agent. The lease was signed a week before I was released from hospital which gave my friends just enough time to move my things in and set it up ready for me to come home to. I’ve often been asked how I found it as many other people were looking for a similar place to live. I saw it at just the right time. A co-incidence? I don’t believe so.
 
Do I suceed in trusting God all the time? Sadly the answer is still no. However I can state with confidence along with Paul when he wrote Ephesians ‘nothing can seperate us from Christ’s love’ and that ‘despite all these things,overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us’
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ~James Baldwin

It’s been a while since I posted a new blog – I’ve been telling myself it’s because my camera was broken and I haven’t been able to take any photos. Quite a good reason as some of you probably just glance at the photos and don’t bother reading my ramblings and that is fair enough. If I’m honest with myself its more than that, although that does play a part in my reluctance to actually sit down and write something.

At the moment my life feels like it’s just in a holding pattern.

I’m living in this great unit provided by generous friends who are overseas for a time working as missionaries in Tanzania. I don’t know when they will be coming back but it  won’t be before December and could well be months later than that. I have a part-time job that enables me to just survive. I go to Church,  to a spinning group when I can, I go to a craft group on Monday nights and Bible Study group on Tuesday nights. I make my cards, I’m making friends, keep in touch with my family, read , work on a course I’m doing.

And I worry ceaselessly about my future.

I know that the Lord has been so good to me and that He has always provided in the past and is providing in the now ( all I have to do is look at where I’m living to remember that) but instead of being able to rest in Him and where I am at the moment I stress and worry and spend sleepless nights.

I guess this week has been hanging over my head for a while now. I’m expecting to get the news that the divorce is final this week and then on Thursday I turn 58. Two things over which I have no control and which mean that my life is changed irrevocably. Even though in one way my life won’t be different from what it is now, I guess the thing is that they are cut off points. After this week I will be divorced instead of separated. The final division made. The new volume of my life started. In some ways a good thing but coupled with the second event very scary.

Turning 58 2 years ago wouldn’t have worried me nearly as much. When you have a husband and a business and a life that you have been living together for a long time it isn’t a big deal. Just another birthday that reminds you are getting older but not a biggy. Turning 58 as a newly divorced woman with no money,no partner and no full-time job is a totally different scenario. Turning 58 means it’s even harder to get a job, and if I do get one having a finite time to work and save before retirement. It brings the spectre of an insecure old age with no home looming on the horizon not in some far distant time but the not too far distant future.

I guess what I have been doing over the last few weeks is not facing the future but dreading it and going around and around in circles about what to do.

On the positive side I have made some steps towards trying to  get some better paid work but it will still be casual. The thing I am really looking forward to is that I get to go to Brisbane for a few days to stay with my son and daughter-in-law and I’m so looking forward to getting to know my precious grandson. I will also get to see one of my other sons and meet his new girlfriend. Sadly my other son will not be there as he’s in Melbourne doing a course. It’s been 9 months since I’ve seen any of them and it breaks my heart that I can’t see them more often. I’m also hoping that I will be able to catch up with a couple of friends.

So what do I do as I enter this rather overwhelming week? I guess I need to face the things that can’t be changed.to dwell on all the good things in my life, to not give up but work at changing the things I can and most of all to keep putting my trust in the Lord and reminding myself of these words from Him

Jeremiah 29:11
New Living Translation (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
 
Romans 15:13
New Living Translation (NLT)
13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Philippians 4:13
New Living Translation (NLT)
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
 
Romans 8:31-39
New Living Translation (NLT)
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves you.
 

And for those of you who enjoy seeing the pictures I’ll add in a card I made for a lovely lady for her birthday.

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Body, Soul and Craft- the evolution of my blog.

Last night I had a friend call around to ask me if I wanted to go ‘cruising’ to see what was open on a Thursday night in our small town. Both of us have mainly lived in big cities or towns where we are used to almost 24 hour access to shops, cafes etc and both of us moved to the Milton Ulladulla area in the first part of last year. Well the answer to the question in all three areas (Ulladulla, Mollymook and Milton) is not much!

It was still light so I’m guessing we started about 7.30 and we drove slowly around and in the end just managed to buy an ice-cream at the Beach Hut at Mollymook as they were closing and went and sat on the beach while we ate them and watched the colours fade and the peace of the ocean invade our souls while we chatted.

Afterwards we came back to my place and had a cup of tea and I showed her my blog. As I went further back in the entries I realised that when I initially started it( before my life fell apart) I was just using it to showcase cards I had made and give instructions on how to make them.

As time when on I started to share a bit of what I was experiencing in my life, along with the projects. Now I rarely if ever include directions on how to make the cards and some blogs don’t even have any reference to my crafts!

At first it was very intimidating to be faced with a blank page and wondering what to put on it. I knew that it was unlikely that many people would read it but you live in hope and anxiously watch for the dashboard to show that anyone out there is interested and has read it. When I stuck to pictures and instructions it was easy, but as the character of the blog changed to reflect me,my personality and emotions it becomes quite important to know that anyone bothers to read it and even be moved enough to comment or like it.

I guess the blog as it is now bares the real me to you the reader. It is easy to tell that I have struggled with the things that have happened to me over the last couple of years. You can also tell the things that are important to me – my family, my craft and hopefully my faith as a Christian. If I asked you to tell me the things that give me joy I’m sure you would be able to come up with a list from my blogs.

So as my life goes on so will my blog.

It will continue to be a mish-mash of crafts,emotions and I may include recipes etc too along with musings, attitudes and beliefs.

I hope some of you will consider it worthwhile to follow me on my journey in life and the blogging world – and I’d love to hear from any of you that feel like you would like to make contact with me.

I pray that your journey will bring you joy and comfort through the twists and turns that life always brings

Kathie x

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