Thursday, 28 April 2011

Three "B's"

        Somewhere along the line I heard that in ministry there are four “B’s” that are central to ministry.  They are:  Births, Baptisms, Brides and Burials.  Whilst I am not an ordained member of the clergy, three of those four events—burials, births and brides—are present in my current life.  First, I will touch on the “Burials”. 
        Elza O. Cox:  He was my mother’s older brother, born 31st March, 1923.  Nearly a week short of his 88th birthday, he passed away 25th March 2011.  My mother was close to her brother.  The sadness for me is that I never made a point of actually getting to know him myself.  The memories I have of him are his beautiful white hair that fell in gentle waves on his head, a little white moustache and a smile that lit his eyes.  Uncle Elza was soft-spoken, his voice a bit melodic.  He was kind to my Grandma and my mother.   He and my Aunt had an enduring marriage based on respect, honour, friendship and common goals—they were married over 66 years. 
Marion at the LCCS Garden Party
        Marion Williams:  I met Marion Williams at the Langley Community Coffee shop.  Her death has been a shock really.  She passed away on Tuesday, 26th April.  Marion was very involved in the community—especially with the Lions Club.  (Yes, Lions Club is an international organisation with a local branch.)  She was also involved with local politics, and organisations that helped the deaf.  Marion was in her late 60’s, so losing her feels premature.  Just a few months ago she was attending church, organising events, and looking forward to the birth of kittens to one of her three cats.  For over two years she had been fighting with doctors to find out why a treatment for varicose veins in her right leg went so wrong.  Just last autumn her own mother died, and this left Marion heartbroken.  Then in December she had a mini-stroke.  From there her health declined as she suffered more mini-strokes, the re-emergence of lupus and a compromised immune system.  I’m so glad My Midnight Man and I were given the opportunity to visit her on Easter Sunday.  Her funeral is 13th May. 
        Uncle Elza and Marion practiced their Christian faith, being active with their church families.  And because of this faith, I take comfort that they have joined “such a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). 
Next it’s Births
        At the other end of the spectrum is news of up-coming births.  Unless someone has news we don’t know about, none of our family is expecting babies.  However, two very close friends of mine have announced pregnancies.  Exiting stuff! 
Rob & Lyn on their honeymoon--2007
        Lyn is a good friend, whom I met through my time with Youth With A Mission in Scotland. We were prayer partners in Scotland and have lots of things in common.  She married a Floridian and is now making her home in America.  The end of February she posted the news on her blog that she was expecting her second baby.  I am so pleased for her, because her passion is being a stay-at-home wife and mother.  The link for her announcement is:
Michelle on my wedding day 18 Jan 2003
        Michelle:  is like my little sister, being nine years younger than I am.  I’ve known Michelle nearly 30 years...and I truly rejoice with her.  What is so exciting is that she never thought she’d be pregnant a second time—even though she and her husband truly wanted to have more than one child.  Their oldest daughter is a teenager who just passed her driving test!  Of course, I do pray that she will have a good pregnancy.  Baby Bump H. will arrive in October or November. 
        Finally, it’s Brides
        Not related to me at all, but known to the whole world is Kate Middleton and Prince William of Wales.  To be honest, I will be glad when the reporters no longer worry about announcing every nuance and minor detail to the world.  I don’t care who was invited, or snubbed by the Royal couple.  Nor do I care about table settings at the reception or precise schedule of events.  I simply want to turn on the tele and watch the romance of the day unfold. 
"Floss" 2007
        On a very personal note, my youngest Step-daughter “Floss” got engaged to “Harry” on Christmas Day 2010.  Certainly I have mentioned this on my blog previously, but I’m delighted hearing about her dress and the themes they want to bring into the wedding and reception.  It affects me. 
        Equally, my job affects their plans.  Here in the United Kingdom, it is a requirement that a couple getting married announce their intention to marry, called announcing the banns.  As the Parish Administrator, it is my job to write their names in a Book of Banns in order for the vicar to announce the banns at least three months before the date of the wedding.  It will be my honour, privilege and joy to write “Floss and Harry’s” banns in the book.  When I told them, they were equally excited.  Their wedding is May 2012. 
        Burials, births and brides (and grooms) are all occasions to celebrate life—times to embrace and cherish people.  After all, living is really about relationships with others.  The times we share with those with whom we open our hearts, our minds, are the truest treasure.  
        Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,  "Lady Helene"

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Unwritten pages...

                        Children of the 1950’s to the 1970’s are familiar with vinyl records that were played at 33 or 45 rounds-per-minute on turn-tables with diamond-tipped needles on the end of an arm.  If the record player got shaken, or the arm bumped, the needle skipped and skidded across the records, sometimes scratching them, but not playing the recorded material.  That’s how I feel about the days of un-written blogs—my arms got knocked and my blogging time got skipped over.  The material I want to write is still in my head, but the pages were left unwritten. 
                        In part, I have been distracted by learning my new duties as parish administrator.  Any time a person starts a new job, the learning curve is intense—learning where to look for information, methods of doing certain tasks, who to ask and establishing new routines.  The first couple of weeks the extra activities took all my energy—but it was a good tired.
Paris Market Atlas carrots
                        My balcony garden is providing me with pleasure—as the seeds have released the life within them and small green shoots are popping up through the compost.  I now have spinach, beet root, carrots, bean plants and sunflowers up.  Before Easter week, My Midnight Man brought home bags of new compost, a spray bottle, and Paris Market Atlas carrot seeds!  They are small and round, instead of thin and long.  MMM thought they were a good choice as my containers are only about 30 inches (45 cm) deep.  I will have to do some transplanting in the next day or two.
                        I’ve learned that although using cardboard egg cartons seems like a good idea, they really are NOT deep enough to use for starting seedlings.  So, chalk this up to another lesson learned and “What NOT to do next year.”  However, I am sure they would make good compost. 
                        I’ve been playing a little bit with the new “free motion” foot on my sewing machine.  It will take some practice, but I’m hoping to build my skill to proficiently write names on material.  That will be great fun for making Christmas presents.
"Seamstress Supreme" wearing an outfit she made
                        In 2008 I spent a week with my oldest sister-in-law, “Seamstress Supreme”, whose sewing and garment making skills border on professional.  The plan was that I would spend a week with her, and we would sew during the days, and socialise in the evening.  Well...we did manage to each get a garment cut out, and started.  However, we actually spent more time out and about, enjoying the weather and each other’s company than we did on our projects.  The project of my selection was a waistcoat and pair of trousers—neither of which got finished.  It’s been tucked away in my sewing box, awaiting the time and inspiration to bring them to completion.  The time is now.  Having gained some weight, I’ve had to add a gusset on either side of the waistcoat so that it will fit.  It felt good guiding the material under the presser foot, seeing the garment become wearable.  Though good progress was made on Tuesday (26th), it still isn’t finished.  I am hoping the waistcoat will be finished by this weekend so I can wear it Sunday.  Although delayed, the gratification of a finished project is often inspiration for me to start another.
                        I really missed blogging the past two weeks—the since of accomplishment that came with posting every-day or nearly everyday.  From reading other blogs and books about blogging, I’ve learned that the more posts I write, the chances of my readership increases.  I also know that I have more readers than official followers.  I’ve had so many people give me verbal encouragement, letting me know what they enjoy about the blogs I write. 
                        Favourite passages of the Bible come alive in my mind when I take time to meditate on them.  As I was reading Ephesians 1:11-12, (having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will) I had a picture of a blue print created by God, for my life.  I don’t understand why I daily fight fatigue.  Yet I do believe that the circumstances I battle through have the affect of bringing me into His design (blue-print) and bringing my life into agreement and harmony with His divine purposes.  Just like a bird that has to chip away at the shell, or the butterfly has to fight its way out of the cocoon, that which I push against will make me grow stronger.  The passion to fly creates the drive to break free.  Yet, without the resistance, little wings would not grow strong and creatures of the air would never soar. 
                        Passion to help, to serve, to write, to create are the things that keep me pressing on to cooperate with the doctors to find why blood and protein are present in my urine.  The desire to see the purpose of His will manifest in my life, keep me plodding along, resting and recharging when my body requires.     
King David wrote “...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16.  I have many unread pages to my story, many adventures yet to be experienced.  But it is my hope and prayer that I will find a way to develop a more consistent pattern of posting. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith, "Lady Helene"

Monday, 11 April 2011

Dungarees and Dirt!

Christmas 2001
        As befitting a farmer’s granddaughter, and a “Wannabe Lady Farmer”, I chose to wear my dungarees today as I sat out on the balcony working on my “Farmer’s Tan” and organising my “Balcony Garden in Boxes.”  I was out in the glaring sun, mixing water with fertilizer, pouring it into dried out compost and making mud.  I reviewed my stash of last year’s seeds, deciding how much I wanted to plant, and which container to place them in.  The result is:  beet root, spinach, sunflowers, dwarf bush beans all planted.  I discovered that the packet that was labelled carrots was actually empty.  This set back the planting progress, as I need a trip to the super store to buy more carrot seeds, and more compost.  In addition, I need to plant cucumber seed, and yellow squash seeds. 
Before the planting
        My little pots of green won’t produce enough to preserve or store.  But we might get a meal or two from the effort I put in.  Having the soil in my hands was peace-giving, and honest.  There is a subtle excitement about the possibilities that exist in the seeds, satisfaction and pleasure of watching life spring forth and grow. 
        I am a little more organised this year.  I learned a few things last year and put the information to good use this year.  Like feeding last year’s dried up compost before planting anything.  Because there are no decaying bits, and no worms to help the old roots to decompose, there is no nourishment for the seeds once they sprout.  But, by loosening up the compost, making it not only moist, but muddy, with plant food diluted in water, the compost is still usable.  I will still need more compost for this year.  But I have a base to work with. 
The planting is on...
        By 4:00 p.m., the skies had clouded over, the temperature cooled and I was glad I’d gotten the planting done by 2:00 p.m. 
        Speaking of dungarees, the ones in this photo have been worn out and thrown away.  They were made of brown corduroy, very soft and lovely to wear.  By the time they went into the rubbish bin (trash), they were faded a light beige.  The blue denim pair I wore today are a Christmas present from a friend.  These are almost a year and a half old.  There is something about wearing dungarees whilst working in the dirt (making mud pies!) that make me feel authentic, uncomplicated, a little bit country. 
        Since I own only one pair of dungarees, I want to make a gardening apron.  My Midnight Man had three or four old pairs of worn out jeans he could no longer wear.  I’ve been mentally pondering the best design for an apron made from a pair of these.  I was inspired by a blog posting that showed someone else’s handiwork.  Today I opened up the inside seam of a leg and it will match the section to which I want to attaché to the front pockets.  The leg needs some trimming down to fit.  Then I have to design a way to tie it on, as well as something to go around the neck.  Once I get this done, I’ll post photos. 
        The jeans also provide enough scrape to make some pot holders, which will allow me to practice some free-motion machine embroidery. 
        As the days go on, and I’m puttering around on the balcony, I’ll make sure to prevent becoming a red-neck by using the SPF 30 sun block.  I’ll also wear my base-ball cap and sunglasses.  Oh and keep the water bottle handy to keep from getting dehydrated in the heat and sun.  I’d like to think that my Grandpa Cox would be proud of my humble efforts to honour my heritage—sowing and reaping and enjoying the process as the days unfold. 

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,  "Lady Reed"

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Glorious and Enjoyable

       Longer, warmer days
       Bright, warm, first caressing, then burning—we are blessed with Spring-time sun.  It’s been with us now the last week, along with burgeoning leaves, exploding blossoms, greening grass, and flowering bushes.  We are now seeing folk attired in sleeveless shirts, shorts, and sandaled feet.  The temperatures have been around 20°C/68°F, with soft breezes.  Laundry waves from newly strung-up lines—eliminating the need to have drying stands in bedrooms and lounges.
Sowing Seeds?       
        I’d wanted to start planting seeds for my balcony garden last month.  In truth I didn’t do it as I was feeling ambivalent about the situation; I was trying to decide if I would have enough energy for tending it this summer.  About the time I decided to forget about it this year, I saw an advert on the television for a free packet of carrot seeds and a gardening booklet that was in today’s paper.  Encouraged by the presenter, Monty Don, that there is still plenty of time for seed planting, I tackled the job of cleaning up the balcony in order to prepare this years “Garden in Boxes.”  For those who saw it last year, you will know just how blessed I was with my little endeavour. 
Balcony before the clean-up

  This year, there will be no broccoli, no cabbages.  I do hope for cucumbers and yellow squashes—which I didn’t plant last year.  The repeat vegetables for this year are going to be beet root, carrots, dwarf beans, spinach and maybe lettuce. 
 By the time I’d done the clearing and cleaning, I was too tired to day any planting.  So, the plan is to do the planting tomorrow morning. 
Balcony after the clean
 New Duties 
This past week has been pretty busy with other things as well.  Wednesday and Friday I went to Langley Parish Office in St. Mary's Hall to begin my duties as the Parish Administrator.  I edited the weekly newsletter and then copied them for the three churches.  I made a few phone calls; to two couples getting married in the coming months to confirm if they want the bells rung and to someone else who needs a copy of her baptismal certificate.  I was shown the books to record baptisms, brides, and burials.  It was wonderful to feel productive in a professional capacity again. 

New Gadget!
I had never heard of being able to do “Free-motion” embroidery on a standard sewing machine until I was reading a book on Sewing machine techniques.  (Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques by Nancy Bednar and JoAnn Pugh-Gannon:  publisher Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York).  

 Although my Singer has several feet—zipper foot, button-hole foot, Blind-stitch hem foot—I didn’t have a free-motion embroidery foot.  Onto the internet I went and found one at:  The foot arrived on Friday.  To learn how to put it on properly, I had to research on the internet, finding help on  I’ve been experimenting to learn how to use it and what I can do with it.  One demonstration on shows how to use the embroidery foot without an embroidery hoop—but requires three layers of fabric.  A couple of other videos show the use of a hoop.  Let me tell you, figuring out how to get the hoop under the presser foot takes a bit of logic and ingenuity.  I’ll post photos once I start doing some projects.  Please don’t hold your breath or be too expectant, because I have a feeling that many hours of practice are going to be required before I reach any level of proficiency.  Yet, I promise to have fun whilst I’m learning.  
Summing up...
 So, I’ve been trying to rise to the new challenges in my life.  I still find low energy levels frustrating, discouraging and inhibiting in terms of how much I get accomplished.  Yet, I know the Lord helps me every day.  I do believe that there is an answer to the problem and that I will get my energy back.  But, it is the challenges that create the contrast more evident—and conquering the challenges even more enjoyable. 
Prayer for the Day
from the Church of England Prayer book
"Most Merciful God, 
Who by the death and resurrection
of your Son Jesus Christ 
delivered and saved the world; 
grant that by faith in Him Who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of His victory; 
through Jesus Christ , Your Son, Our Lord, 
Who is a live and reigns with You

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”