social spark Aisling Beatha: December 2010


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Friday, December 31, 2010

What I THOUGHT Simplicity Would Mean in 2010

  1. So, in the last post I shared some things about yearly themes. About what they are, how I receive mine, how some previous years had gone with their theme and so on. Go read it if you have any questions. Here is the list I wrote back in November 2009 about the theme I felt I had for 2010.

  2. In that previous post I shared that despite declaring I was not yet ready to even think about a theme for 2010, I did indeed know what it was. SIMPLIFY, or to put it another way SIMPLIFICATION.

  3. So what does that mean? Well, to an extent it means a variety of things because I believe it is going to affect many areas of my life. But in essence it means working smarter instead of harder, focussing on the things that matter and decluttering.

  4. I believe I need to SIMPLIFY in terms of health, I need to focus on what matters, losing some weight so I can eventually get off the CPAP and live a normal life without it. This in turn will affect many of my other health issues. Along with that will go exercise. SIMPLIFY that by just getting on with it and doing it rather than making excuses. If it's too cold and wet to walk outside, get on the blasted treadmill and DO IT! It's not complicated, it's not difficult, it's SIMPLE!

    There is no easy way out, no quick fix, the only long term way that is going to do this is to eat less and move more, deny yourself some of the time, but not all of the time, and if you believe emotional crap from your past is affecting your ability to do that, do the hard emotional work of working through it, with help if you need it.

  5. I believe I need to SIMPLIFY in terms of my work. STOP stressing over which schools to send the letters to and which not and just send them to all the schools in our target area. I also believe I need to bring it back before God far more. Pray daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, each in slightly different ways, but with a focus on this work, on the children that need to hear the good news, on the teaching staff that need a break from having to lead assemblies, on the heart and soul of our future - children.

  6. I believe I need to SIMPLIFY in terms of chores around the house. I am still working my way out of the situation it got into when I had so little energy due to the sleep apnoea. I still don't have the energy levels I would like but they ARE so much better than they had been. Some of the problems are also because with the reduced energy levels I got out of the habit of doing stuff. I need a simple, easy to use and follow schedule that takes into account that my work hours are at different times on different days every week of the year.

  7. Along with SIMPLIFYING the chores, I think I seriously need to de-clutter, SIMPLIFY what we have. I am not as extreme as some people, but we do have too much stuff, stuff we don't use, don't need and sometimes don't even want. for instance, this morning we have thrown out at least a dozen pairs of old shoes that we were all hanging onto "just in case" or because we hadn't got around to throwing them out yet.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say "If you haven't used it or needed it in a year, you need to throw it out", but I do believe we can seriously streamline our belongings. As mentioned above we have begun this process, on a gentle scale, but gradually things are being taken to the charity shop, or if they are not good enough for that, to the local tip.

  8. There is something in my gut that says we may NEED that de-cluttering. Maybe that is jsut so that if and when we take advantage of our better financial position to refinance with a better deal, the valuer who comes to the house sees a much tidier, in better condition house. Or, maybe there is a move in our future. I don't know, MAYBE there is, maybe there isn't, to be honest it's not something I see, strongly, just that there's enough of a stirring in my stomach that we NEED to do this de-cluttering to make me wonder.

  9. I need to SIMPLIFY my spiritual life. I try to make things so complicated, looking for this book, or that method. And the truth is, I need to read my bible, pray and journal each day. Anything else comes on top of that, anything else while useful is not vital. The only VITAL thing is KNOWING that God loves me beyond measure and moving towards deeper relationship and walk with Him.

  10. I need to maintain a SIMPLICITY to my trip to America. there are many many people who want me to make time to see them. I cannot do everything, see everyone or go everywhere. I ONLY have 2 weeks. I have chosen a focus, and will have to practise using the words "I'm sorry, I just can't." I need to keep hold of the reason for this trip. This trip is about friendship first and foremost, about meeting up with a group of crazy women whom I love as if I had known them all my life. But I am coming to understand that it is also about my relationship with God. About getting me out of comfort zone, out of routine and in a position to listen in different ways to what he is speaking to me.

    Dana, BTW, I am looking forward to making great use of those chairs out back of your house! heeheee. Journal, chair, beautiful view, good friends, oh YES! hmm, might need a pen to go with that journal!

  11. Church fellowship? Well since it turned out that my theme for last year, AND the scripture God gave me to back it up, was used by the couple who came to speak at our church camp in October, who knows what this could mean for our church this year. We are still in a situation where we could be moving from the building, so it could be to do with that, but it doesn't have to be. How do we as a fellowship need to SIMPLIFY? This is something I need to think about, write about and share with the leaders in the next week or so. I need to LISTEN and share.

  12. I can SIMPLIFY my online life and time. Each day I need to check emails, facebook, 2 particular message boards and my googlemail. I would also like to add writing a blog post each day but again that is not essential. What I need to cut out is the amount of time I spend sat at this computer desk just looking for something to fill my time. SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY!

  13. And so, we're at number 13. I am not sure if I mentioned in the previous post abotu themes. But one of the things we like to do is find a scripture to focus on during the year to go with our themes. Usually my scripture comes a week or two behind my theme.
Stay tuned for a post on how the theme and my year actually went.  It wasn't quite according to plan!

What is a YEARLY THEME all about?

  1. I first came across the idea of themes for the year a few years ago through reading the blogs of friends. Basically the idea is to seek God for an underlying theme for the coming year and then watch how He works that out in your life. Also considering your actions and lifestyle in light of that theme.

  2. I started doing this myself a few years ago and have noticed more and more people commenting on their themes for the year.

  3. Some years this has been a process of taking time out, sitting with God, looking at the previous years theme, how that went, praying, reading, listening, and other times it has just been one word or phrase that dropped into my spirit and I KNEW that that was the theme for that year.

  4. Some years the theme seems like a really nice one and you approach the year thinking "Yeah, I can DO this, this will be fun." and other years you approach your theme with a little trepidation.

  5. For instance, I have friends whose recent themes include Patience, and everyone knows if God wants to grow patience in you, He's going to put you in some situations that will require you to grow patience and those might not be fun. I have another friend whose theme for the coming year is Enjoy and I'm really excited to watch and see what God does with her this year.

  6. Other years you look at your theme and you think it's going to be one thing and looking back on the year at the end you see it totally fitted with your theme BUT absolutely NOT in the way you had expected that to work out.

  7. As an example a few years ago my theme for the year was "Seeking God for myself, not relying on others to speak into me." I thought "yeah, I can do this, lots of time praying, reading my bible, listening for god to speak, yeah, I can do this." What I did not expect was for it to be the most isolating year of my life socially, where a lot of relationships were stretched, broken, and there were fewer and fewer people close enough to be able to speak into my life. I had no choice but to seek out God for myself.

  8. Then there was 2008. REST! Great, fantastic, slow down, take it easier, REST. HA! God really has a sense of humour.

  9. I started 2008 knowing that I was having some medical symptoms that I suspected were sleep apnoea related. I had tried to seek medical advice previously but had been rebuffed by our family doctor who would not refer me to a specialist. As my symptoms began to worsen, and I realised I had less and less energy, needing frequent 3 or 4 hour daytime naps just to get through the day, falling asleep sat up at the computer desk, and even, at times mid conversation with my family, I knew I would have to face the doctor again. And I was prepared for it to be a battle, I was prepared that I would need to FIGHT to be heard.
    Alongside that, hubby and I had been struggling in our role as small group leaders at church. We had taken on what turned out to be an incredibly difficult group, for various reasons. We HAD previously tried to get help in our role, but had not been heard, we had even tried to quit before, but had been persuaded to stay. I was prepared for this, too to be a battle, I was prepared to have to FIGHT for what I knew God was doing in me!

    So, here were two situations in which I was totally expecting a battle.
    When I finally got up the courage to approach the doctors again, in the end I got my referral to the sleep clinic! PRAISE GOD. I went to my first appointment and for the first time in relation to these symptoms I felt like I was really HEARD. It truly felt like God had gone before me and prepared the way.

    Small group leading? It was awesome. We hold no blame over the couple who led the ministry at that time at all, and they were absolutely fantastic, totally coming to terms with where we were at, apologising for not having realised before and giving us the space to step back with no repercussions.

    So, two situations in which I expected battle and found nothing but the way already prepared before me.
    A year in which physically I was forced to take more and more rest as my symptoms grew.
    A year in which I tried to make much more of a focus on getting to "soaking" meetings, where we just sit on a comfy sofa, or lie on the floor and rest while appropriate worship music is played over us. Sometimes someone prays and sometimes they don't, but we just SOAK in God's presence.
    Then, at church family camp 2008 I had the most amazing experience.
    I wasn't sure about how attending camp would affect my sleep, and not being able to nap during the day, etc, but I went anyway, figuring if had to hide out in our unit I would. There was this one meeting, and worship was awesome, and I was singing and dancing, and then the tiredness, slowly began to come over me. And I got to a point, where I could not dance any more, but I still stood and sang, and raised my hands. And as the tiredness grew, my hands came down to hold on to the seat in front, and then I had to sit down and eventually even stop singing. I could not even muster to the energy to do that. I COULD NOT fight the sleep, I could not DO anything for God in that moment, I did not even have the energy to think through the words of the song in my head, it was all I could do to just BE. And in that moment I felt the nearness of God like I have NEVER felt it before, I felt His love and His closeness, and His passion, and it overwhelmed me. I mean, seriously overwhelmed me. I could DO NOTHING, and in that moment He came to me. I could DO NOTHING and in that moment He poured out His love on me. I could DO NOTHING and in that moment he came to dwell with me. I could do NOT ONE THING to make myself acceptable to God, I could not earn it in any way shape or form, I could not even keep my eyes open in the worship service, and in that place, He expressed His passionate love and care for me.

  10. 2009 began with a theme of Breakthrough but in fact, at first glance, it started with some situations that did not look like breakthrough at all.
    I would not be allowed to drive my car for a few months at least. Due to my diagnosis of Sleep Apnoea, my driving licence had been medically revoked. My precious little gift of a car was put off road for a while!
    I was to receive a local bus pass because of that but that would take 5 or 6 weeks to come through, so in the meantime, and for any journeys after it came through that were not possible by bus, I was reliant on others!

    So, NO, this didn't look like breakthrough, and it didn't feel like breakthrough, but I KNEW that I knew that I knew, that God, the Father had His hands completely on this whole process and that He would use this, even this to bring about the breakthrough He intended!

    And at the same time, I was heading towards some fantastic moments of breakthrough that I already knew about!
    Hubby and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in February. Something a lot of people never thought we'd do!
    I got my CPAP machine (Sleep apnoea treatment) at the end of January 2009 and despite an early struggle to get used to it and moments of absolute despair at the possibility of things never improving I am now able to go about my day without falling asleep and without needing daytime naps and live life more or less normally. Of course there are still bad days, bad nights, and I still don't have the energy to do EVERYTHING, but this is SO much better than things were before I got treated.
    The restoration of day time energy levels meant I could focus once again on losing some weight and increasing my heart health through exercise! And that year I lost almost 30 pounds.
    I have also seen breakthrough in other areas of my life, I got my driving licence back at the end of the summer 2009, and God met me particularly in the struggle and desire for deeper female friendship, with that being met in more than 1 way. God had also spoken to my local church about breakthrough, that October, using the very verses from Joshua that I had used to back up my theme for that year.

    2009 was NOT over yet when I wrote this list of points. I did not Believe the year of Breakthrough was over yet! I believed there was much to come, both in the remaining 5 weeks of the actual year, and truly, I believed beyond that! When I sought God for a theme for 2010 it was not denying the breakthrough that would continue, it was merely adding to it!

  11. So, 2010? This list was originally written in November 2009 and friends had been speaking of their themes for this coming year already, and I was refusing to even acknowledge it, refusing to accept that this was possible. I was still in the middle of my busiest 2 months of the year and quite simply, it was not even on my radar and I was fine with that.

  12. THEN, one morning in November 2009, I was lying in bed and a thought dropped into my head, ONE WORD! And I thought after it, "Oh that might be my theme for the year" Then I reminded myself that I was refusing to think about that yet and that anyway was I really sure I wanted a theme like that? Remembering what I said up in points 6 and 7.
    I mentioned to some friends that I thought I MIGHT have my theme and was GRUMP GRUMP GRUMP in response to it.
    The truth is this theme fits in with other things that God has been speaking to me over recent weeks, and was confirmed by a blog post from someone whose writing I trust, the morning I wrote this list.

  13. One word - or at least one word, that can be put in a number of different ways.
    Not working harder and harder, but working smarter. Not doing things just because "well someone's got to do it" but focusing on those things that I believe God wants ME to do. Not doign things because "Doing A is the only way B is going to happen" but trusting God that what He has promised to do, He WILL do. Simplifying STUFF as well, de-cluttering, getting rid of junk, emotionally, spiritually and physically. NOPE, I don't think this is going to be an EASY theme to live through, but I think it's going to be an adventure, and I am up for that!
Stay tuned for a further post on how that went, hmmmmmmmmmm . . . . . . 

    Dirty Wedding Dress

    This is another piece that came initially as a picture. We were in worship one Sunday, and I could vividly see the beginning of the following scene play out before me in my head. As I began to write down what I saw, the rest of this came flowing out.
    What I did NOT know at that point was that a friend of mine was going to stand up at the front during the announcements section of the meeting and her and husband were to publically recommit. She had not told me she was going to do that, hadn't hinted at it or anything of the sort. I had NO IDEA! And so, when she did, we knew this was a God thing.

    I can see a woman standing over a huge washtub, desperately rubbing this fabric up and down a washboard.
    “I MUST get it clean”, she’s crying, “I have to.”
    She’s desperate, helpless, the stains won’t come out, there’s nothing she can do.
    “I can’t wear it like THIS!” she says as she falls in a heap on the floor.

    What’s in the washtub? Her wedding dress. Soiled, damaged, ripped and dirty.

    How could she ever hope to get it clean, to get it ready, to make it “good enough”. It had been many years, and many stains, she had no hope of ever making it right.

    In hopelessness she cried out to the only one who could make it clean.

    Take this dress,
    Take this mess
    That was our marriage.
    Lord, You’ve done so much already.
    Dare I ask this one thing more?
    Make me clean.
    Take away this stain.”

    Gently, lovingly, He took her hand.

    “I’ve been waiting.
    Waiting for this moment of desperation.
    Waiting for you to know that I am the only one who can remove this stain, take away this hurt.”

    He took her hand and lifted her to stand.

    “Come look again.”

    He lifted out the gown.
    Still, there were the stains, but now they were changing. They joined, they merged as He touched them. As He ran his hand over this filthy rotten gown, it became a pattern on the fabric.
    A beautiful pattern that even the greatest designer could not have come up with.

    “I cannot take away what has already happened,
    But I can treat the stain, heal the hurt, take the pain.”

    “Take it!" He said, holding the dress out to her "Go, try it on."

    She grasped the dress out of His hands, she ran to the next room and put on that dress.

    When she returned, she was truly beautiful. She twirled about the room, radiant, beautiful, clothed in God’s love, His forgiveness, His healing.

    "Now Go!
    Now you are ready.
    Ready to change hearts and lives.
    Change whole cities, whole nations,
    Because now you walk in a gown that is clean,
    Truly clothed in my righteousness.
    You have a job to do out there my dear child."

    "But, I’ll get it dirty again!"

    "Yes, I know, but now you know, now you are learning, how to get it clean again."

    photo by Kristina Daley (with creative commons permission)

    Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010

    Paint Colours Book

    Every time I go to a craft store I look at the tubes and bottles of acrylic paint.  Especially now I have found a store tht stocks the smaller bottles of craft paint for just 99p, I'd like to get some more colours.  The problem is that stood there, in front of this wonderful rack of delights I can NEVER remember what colours I already have.  I have been meaning to make this little book since I bought my Bind it All, and finally got around to doing it last night.

    First of all I designed a page with squares for the paint and lines for the brand and colour name of the paint.  I printed that out at 4 to a sheet of A4, on sketchbook paper and cut each sheet into 4.

    I cut a piece of thin card for a front cover and a piece of chipboard for the back cover.

    I bound it all on my Bind it All and this is the result.

    The only possible problem I can forsee is that I might run out of pages, but I can always open it up and put some more in.

    And that may be the end of my online presence today as I see a trip to a craft shop in my very near future!

    Review on the Year - Answers Part 3

    What was the best book you read? 
    I don't do a lot of reading.  Certainly didn't do much of it at all at home this year, even though there were books that caught my attention and I wanted to read through, somehow it never happened.  However, when I was in America I did a LOT of reading.  Reading, reading, reading, reading, reading.  The two favourites from that time that come to mind were

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


    Ireland, the novel by Frank Delaney

    What was your greatest musical discovery of 2010? 
    Sitting at that Casting Crowns Concert and really LISTENING to the lyrics, some of them that I had heard many many times, but hearing those lyrics as if it were the first time, and being SO impacted by them, so incredibly impacted by them.

    What did you want and get? 
    A trip to America

    What did you want and not get? 
    To meet more of my American friends, to spend time getting to know more of them, to sit and share and laugh and have fun with them!

    What was your favourite film of this year? 

    What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
    I hate answering this question in December, because with my birthday being in January I can't remember.  I shall have to look it up in my journal.

    What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 
    More time with my American friends.

    How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? 

    What kept you sane? 
    I'm not sure I stayed sane, not at times anyway.  But when I was using it and not hiding from it, journaling and then later, art journaling were definitely sanity bringers for me.

    Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    Really can't think of anyone, truthfully.

    What political issue stirred you the most? 
    Budget cuts and the way they are going to affect education. 

    Who did you miss? 
    I miss my mom.  Even though she didn't share my faith and therefore part of the reason I have got into art journaling, I think she would have loved the process.

    Who was the best new person you met? 
    Does it count if I already knew them online for years and years and years but only just got to meet them face to face?
    and then those I had not met before this years trip to America:
    Miss Tish
    And many many more in Milledgeville.

    Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010: 
    If you're doing the right thing and you KNOW it, don't give up, hang in there, pray and WAIT and see what god will do, but do NOT whatever you do, give up!

    Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
    Oh what I would do to have
    The kind of faith it takes
    To climb out of this boat I'm in
    Onto the crashing waves

    To step out of my comfort zone
    Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
    And He's holding out His hand

    But the waves are calling out my name
    And they laugh at me
    Reminding me of all the times
    I've tried before and failed
    The waves they keep on telling me
    Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
    "You'll never win!"

    But the voice of truth tells me a different story
    The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
    The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
    Out of all the voices calling out to me
    I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

    Oh what I would do to have
    The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
    With just a sling and a stone
    Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
    Shaking in their armor
    Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

    But the giant's calling out my name
    And he laughs at me
    Reminding me of all the times
    I've tried before and failed
    The giant keeps on telling me
    Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
    "You'll never win!"

    But the stone was just the right size
    To put the giant on the ground
    And the waves they don't seem so high
    From on top of them lookin' down
    I will soar with the wings of eagles
    When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
    Singing over me

    I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

    Cottage Pie


    This is a Cottage Pie Recipe from the Student Cookbook I bought for my 16 year old son, to learn some recipes from before he leaves for University in 2 years time

    2 onions
    4 medium sized carrots
    4 sticks of celery
    50g butter
    550g lamb mince (we used beef mince)
    500ml stock
    4 tbsp tomato ketchup
    1/2 tsp mixed herbs
    salt and pepper
    2kg large potatoes, peeled
    150ml milk
    400g can baked beans

    1. Gather your ingredients

    2. Peel then chop the onions, very finely. For this, we used our trusty V Slicer, watch those blades, V sharp!

    3. Also chop celery and carrots (we had no carrots so these got left out this time) finely.

    4. Heat half the butter and oil in a saucepan, add the chopped vegetables and fry, stirring for 5 minutes until they start to soften.

    5. Add the meat and fry for another 5 minutes, breaking up the mince with a spatula or wooden spoon.

    6. Make up stock and add to the pan. 500ml uses 3 cubes, so we decided to use a mixture of what we had.

    7. Stir the stock into the pan.

    8. Add Ketchup

    9. Add Herbs

    10. Bring that mixture to the boil. That is when bubbles come to the surface of the liquid, over the whole pan at the same time. When this happens, turn the heat down to a simmer. This is when bubbles are only coming to the surface over a small part of the pan at a time, occasionally.
    Stir occasionally.

    11. Meanwhile prepare your potatoes for mashing. If you are using a traditional masher, you will need to peel. We are using a potato ricer, so there is no need to peel. Just chop the potatoes in half.

    12. Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 - 20 minutes, until tender enough for mashing.

    13. We forgot to take photos of the potato ricer in action, oops. Mash the potatoes, add milk and the rest of the butter, mix thoroughly.

    14. Heat the oven to 200 C, 400F, Gas Mark 6.

    15. Stir the baked beans (straight from the tin) into the meat mixture and pour into a large, shallow, oven proof dish, or individual dishes.

    16. Spoon the mashed potato onto the top of the meat mixture, spreading it right to the edges of the dish.

    17. Bake for about 40 minutes until the potato is pale and gold on top.

    18. Like SO!

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    Review on the Year - Answers Part 2

    Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nothing major, just the usual coughs and sneezes, etc.  And despite our mega snow fall I have managed to avoid any slips or falls too.

    What was the best thing you bought?
    TICKETS TO AMERICA!  Although, strictly speaking they were purchased the year before, so erm, this year's purchase? hmmmm. oooh oooooh, the best thing that I bought this year was
    • paint
    • paint brushes
    • paint
    • glue
    • paper
    • a bind it All
    • paint
    • and an awesome art journaling class online

    Where did most of your money go?
    Well, cars and housing and food is the truthful answer, but as far as disposable income is concerned, then art journaling supplies.

    What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    MY TRIP TO AMERICA (are you sensing a bit of a theme with some of these answers? GRIN)  Also some really awesome news I got towards the end of this year with my job.

    What song will always remind you of 2010?

    I took my son to see Casting Crowns live on their only gig in England on their European tour! WOW, what an incredible night!

    Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a. happier or sadder?
    It's been a tough year and I honestly could not have said this at certain points, but right now I think I am happier.  Certainly no sadder anyway.

    b. thinner or fatter?
    hmmmmm?  Thinner than this time last year but fatter than what I managed to get down to before the summer.  Still, I can get back on track! And that is part of my intention over the next few days or weeks.  Take it slow but get moving and get eating better.

    c. richer or poorer?
    Thankfully, truly thankfully we are finishing this year richer.  Hubby's employer has finally realised what an asset he is to the company and have moved his pay up!

    What do you wish you'd done more of? 
    I wish I'd spent more time being honest with myself. 

    What do you wish you'd done less of?
    I wish I'd spent less time hiding from myself, hiding from the issues I need to deal with, more time working through things, journaling, art journaling, not hiding from the both whenever things got difficult.

    How did you spend Christmas?
    Christmas day was spent with eldest son back at home, and the 4 of us just chilling together and eating and having fun.  Youngest was a bit off colour so eldest and hubby went to church without us.  Boxing day was spent in a similar manner and the Monday was a journey over to see relatives and go to my uncle's retirement party.

    Did you fall in love in 2010?
    Hmmmm, fall in love? continue in love?  Yes, and want to be even more so this year.

    What was your favourite TV program?
    I really don't watch a lot of tv, spend most of my free time at the computer or craft desk.  But when I do get to sit in front of the tv I do like Dr Who, NCIS and the various CSIs.  Also quite fond of certain cookery shows, particularly Nigella, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. 

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Review on the Year - Answers Part 1

    What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
    Oh let's see, fly to America, ALL BY MYSELF, get stuck ALL BY MYSELF in snow snow and more snow, first at Newark then in Cleveland and finally a night at a friend's house.  Her hubby drove and picked me up from Washington Dulles airport then took me back there the following morning.  She was such a blessing.
    Then I spent a few chaotic hours at Atlanta airport with an incredible group of ladies, followed by one evening with a smaller group and then 2 weeks staying with a friend, just fitting into whatever they were doing as well as making a few visits and an appearance on stage in their church mid week kids program.

    Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
    I don't particularly make New Years resolutions as such, but I do seek God for a theme for the year.  Some years I can see how that theme worked throughout the year really clearly, last year I think that I probably avoided co-operating with God on the theme He had given me, so didn't see as much change in those areas as I had hoped.

    Did anyone close to you give birth? 
    Depends what you mean by "close".  There have been various births this year, online friends, family and best of all, church friends, especially one who had thought she could never get pregnant due to a medical condition, who is now a very proud mommy!

    Did anyone close to you die?
    Thankfully this year has been one without that.

    What countries did you visit? 
    Thankfully none of my diversions due to the snow took me into other countries.

    What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? 
    Good quality sleep.   I have sleep apnoea and use a CPAP machine.  The CPAP machine has CHANGED MY LIFE!  But it still does not put me where I want to be in terms of energy levels or quality of sleep. 

    What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    Feb 25th 2009.  Yes I know that wasn't this year for most of you but for me it was.  Does anyone remember why?  Come on ladies who were involved in my trip, you should know.

    What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    I reckon surviving that 4 day journey to Atlanta ALL BY MYSELF was a pretty incredible achievement.  I met a lot of interesting people along the way.

    What was your biggest failure? 
    Getting stressed, stressed, stressed over things with work when I should have just rested in God knowing that HE had a plan up his sleeve all along and his timing is perfect.

    Review on the Year 2010 - Questions List

    Here are the year in review questions, in one place, without my answers, so that you can easily copy them over to your blog if you want to use them.
    My answers will come over the next few days.

    What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

    Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?

    Did anyone close to you give birth?

    Did anyone close to you die?

    What countries did you visit?

    What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

    What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

    What was your biggest achievement of the year?

    What was your biggest failure?

    Did you suffer illness or injury?

    What was the best thing you bought?

    Where did most of your money go?

    What did you get really, really, really excited about?

    What song will always remind you of 2010?

    Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a. happier or sadder?

    b. thinner or fatter?

    c. richer or poorer?

    What do you wish you'd done more of?

    What do you wish you'd done less of?

    How did you spend Christmas?

    Did you fall in love in 2010?

    What was your favourite TV program?

    What was the best book you read?

    What was your greatest musical discovery of 2010?

    What did you want and get?

    What did you want and not get?

    What was your favourite film of this year?

    What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

    What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

    How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

    What kept you sane?

    Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

    What political issue stirred you the most?

    Who did you miss?

    Who was the best new person you met?

    Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

    Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

    What is the Place of your Wound?

    And here is a piece from 2005:

    I am currently involved in a study at church with a small group of women. We are working through some seminar cd's from a conference run by Stasi Eldredge, joint author of
    Captivating : Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul
    And another lady whose name eludes me right now.
    The details of the conference can be found at
    Ransomed Heart
    The last session was a tough one. Facing our wound. Facing the place in our lives at which the enemy attacks in order to make us question that which makes us most deeply feminine. It may be something that was done to us it may be something we did, it may be something that just happened.
    Some of us might know immediately what that is, some of us may have no idea.
    We were challenged to go to God with our journals in hand and make a courageous choice, to ask Him "What is the place of my wound?" To ask Him "Where have I known shame?"
    I had a pretty good idea of what mine would be and of where this would take me, but I wasn't certain, but the images of places involved in that, that I had long forgotten made it so clear that I was correct. Thinking over this event and the events surrounding it doesn't fill me with the fear it once did.
    We were asked to consider where and how we had chosen to hide as result of this wound or others.
    First and foremost I hid by forgetting! Truly, I forgot the incident had even taken place until last year when praying through some things with a friend. At the time I was promised that the person involved would be dealt with but I had to promise never to speak of it again, and I didn't, my child's mind made it go away, made it to me as if it had never happened.
    But I had to admit in my journaling that I also had hidden over the years behind my weight. I have subconsciously, and, at times, consciously hidden my femininity behind layers of fat. Yes, I HAVE hidden! I have buried my femininity behind 'fat lady's clothes', behind not caring about my appearance, behind "If I look like this, no one will look at me, no one will see me". Behind the idea that fat is not attractive, fat is not feminine. (If you are struggling with your weight or are fat and happy, BTW that is NOT true, it is a LIE I was hiding behind.)
    But this, even this, was not the most deeply moving part of my journaling from this session.
    A harder question to answer, although still not the hardest was, oh and it is hard to write about it now, hard to think on it. "What desires have I jettisoned along the way?" What dreams have I pushed aside, ignored, refused to even acknowledge because the enemy had me convinced in the shame of that and other events? Not that I was conscious that the shame was why I was jettisoning them, Oh No, I had very good reasons, at the time.
    I sat and I struggled, I said I couldn't answer it, said I didn't know, and then suddenly, There it was. The thought just came as if from nowhere, TEACHING! I had pushed out of my life, fought against, the desire, the call, the longing to teach. And just writing it down on the page was a BIG step for me. Typing it now, reading it over, is a moving experience.
    But the hardest question of them all was this:
    "What is so ALIVE and UNIQUE in me that if the enemy can stop it in me, the kingdom will do without it?"
    WOW! Ladies, this is why I am writing this piece, this is why I had to sit at this computer and get this done.
    What is so alive and unique in YOU that if the enemy can stop it in you, the kingdom will do without it?
    We are not used to thinking of ourselves as special, or as talented. We LEARN mediocrity, we learn that to be special is to stand out and all that comes from standing out. We're even taught that it is bad to think of ourselves more highly than others, while at the same time being taught by these same people to achieve, to do our best, to win in life.
    Is it any wonder we are confused when it comes to this question? Is it any wonder that many of us keep that wound shut away and our femininity with it?
    Friends, hear me when I say, "I understand." I know those feelings of mediocrity that the enemy tries to keep us convinced in. I know that feeling of needing to put yourself down when someone compliments something about you or something you have done. I Know it so well.
    But let me say as gently as I can.
    You are beautiful, you are powerful, you are deeply feminine. YOU are a princess in the kingdom, you are more, far more than you have ever been able to imagine. And yes, you are those things because of God, but that doesn't stop you being them. YOU ARE!
    So, what is it about me? I'm not sure I can put that into words quite yet. But I am sure that God put me on this earth, at this time, in this place for a reason, because there is something I can do, that no one else can do, there are people I can reach that no one else can reach in just the same way. That IS the same for you. God believes in you, I believe in you.
    Find out what it is, don't let the enemy win, I don't want to miss out on what you have to give.

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Cheats Fish Pie

    Cheats Fish Pie
    4 packets (1 box) of boil in the bag fish in sauce
    Frozen peas
    Tin of Sweetcorn
    Tin or two of tuna
    Instant Mashed potato, made up with butter and milk added.
    1 packet dry stuffing mix

    1. Cook the boil in the bag fish and the peas in a large pan of water.

    2. Take each packet of fish from the pan, one at a time.

    3. Cut the packet with scissors and pour the contents into the dish.

    4. Flake the fish with a fork.

    5. Open and drain a tin of sweetcorn.

    6. Mix the sweetcorn into the fish and sauce mixture.

    7. Drain the peas.

    8. Add the peas to the fish and sauce mixture and mix in.

    9. Open and drain the tins of tuna.

    10. Flake the tuna with a fork over the top of the fish in sauce mixture.

    11. Season well with freshly ground salt and pepper.

    12. make up enough instant mash to cover your dish, according to the instructions on the packet, using milk and butter for creaminess.

    13. Top the fish mixture with the mash.

    14. Dot with tiny pieces of butter.

    15. Take a packet of dry stuffing mix.

    16. And sprinkle over the top of the mash.

    17. Pop this into the oven . . .

    18. . . . Until it looks like this.
    EDITED TO ADD: Nope, Anna, the three photo recipes that are on here, I did with my eldest son a few weeks ago and the photos have been sitting on the computer ever since. Haven't got around to making the posts. Figured today was an ideal opportunity. If you look back through today's posts you will find the other two.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    10 commandments for drivers

    The Vatican have produced "10 commandments for driving".  i think in the current bad weather some drivers might do well to remember these.

    The Ten Commandments for road use are as follows:
    • 1. You shall not kill.
    • 2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
    • 3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
    • 4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
    • 5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
    • 6. Charitably convince the young and not-so-young not to drive when they are not in a fit condition to do so.
    • 7. Support the families of accident victims.
    • 8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
    • 9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
    • 10. Feel responsible towards others.
    An interesting list. very interesting, and I think a lot of us, even me, would drive at least a little differently if we took all of this into account.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Movies That Made Me Cry

     Last week my eldest went to see Narnia, and from his reaction it seems that he has inherited the thing about complete and utter brokenness in a movie theatre with total "God Moments".  I have yet to find time to go see it, but I am guessing I am going to need a whole box of tissues!  It made me think about some of the movies that have done that to me in the past.    One of them was Hook, read that story . . .

    YES, I had God moments in Hook, God spoke to me through yet another kids movie . . .

    When Robin Williams finally realised he really WAS Peter Pan and learnt to fly again, and Roofio, who had been leading the lost boys in his absence came to him, with the sword, and offered it to him. WOH! Roofio had been fighting against him being the real Pan until this point, but at this point of submission, as he acknowledged who and what Peter really was, there is a restoration. Roofio is restored to his proper position, he is a BOY, nothing more, just one of the lost boys, yes probably the oldest, yes probably the best fighter, but just one of the boys, he isn't carrying the weight of being in charge any more, he isn't weighed down by a responsibility that was never meant to be his.

    And then, the end of the movie, when Peter is fighting Hook, and the children are cheering him on as peter Pan, but then realise he is their daddy, and that moment of recognition in their eyes? THIS! This man, come to save me, THIS is MY DADDY! And it so reminds me of our relationship to God as father and that moment of truly recognising that, truly understanding that this might great and powerful God is MY DADDY! WOH!

    And then they go to fly home, and Peter stays behind to appoint a new leader to the lost boys. That is so moving, and then the children get home, to their mother. And this is no fairy tale where the children have been gone but not even missed, because no time has passed at home, OH NO! They have been missing, and she has been up all night in their room, wishing and hoping and praying, and they sneak into their beds, and she wakes up, and looks at them in their beds but doesn't believe it. She speaks to her grandmother and says something about her dreams being so real that she still sees them in their beds when she awakes. But then they do, and there is this reunion, and I just cried for all those mothers who have missing children, who never know if they will see that day. Who can't allow themselves to grieve that missing child yet, because to grieve would be to acknowledge that the child is gone for good, so grief is postponed in the hope of return! HEARTBREAKING!

    and there is still MORE! Then Peter wakes up, in the snow at the foot of the peter Pan statue in the park, and makes his way home, where he finds his mobile phone ringing in the snow in the garden. This man, who before he went to never Land to rescue his children, had been too busy with work, been too busy for his own children, is babbling down the phone to this work contact about pixie dust and flying, and tells the person on the other end of the phone to experience flying himself and throws the phone out of the window! And you know that this is one daddy who has learnt the lesson, who, never again will put his work before his children. Who has learnt to laugh and learnt to play and learnt to think happy thoughts! And my heart breaks for all those children who fathers are not absent physically, but who are absent emotionally, for whatever reason whether it be a genuine physical need for the money he brings in, in order to survive or whether it be for his own self esteem and his own misunderstanding of what it means to be a father.

    Yep, another movie for the God Moment list!
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