Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Man and His Bike...

The Maverick 2007
                        “You have two mistresses!”  I jokingly say to the Maverick.  “Your computer and your bicycle—and not necessarily in that order.” 
                If he didn’t kiss me first thing when he wakes up in the morning, before he turns on his computer, I probably would feel a little insecure. But he does.  :-) (Kiss me, that is!)
       And if he would rather go bicycling that spend time with me, then I’d probably be resentful; but he doesn't.   

       As it is, I listen to him dream about a custom-built bicycle—which will cost almost £1,100—complete with bells and lights.  When he starts waxing lyrical about “JOG-LE”, I just smile and thank God for passion. 
                What’s “JOG-Le”?  It stand for two destinations—you start and one point and end at the other; John O’Groats, Scotland to Land’s End, England.  The course takes a traveller—whether walker or bicyclist—diagonally across Great Britain.  Some people start at the top and go south, whilst others prefer to leave Land’s End and work their way north.  Often this journey is done by folk who want to raise money for charity.  Others want to do it for the sheer accomplishment of it. 
                To be honest, I often think how wonderful it would be to make the journey with him—on a bike of my own.  However, my current fitness level prevents it.  So, I dream of being healed from the depression and fatigue. 
When I was in my twenties, I used to ride a one speed bike that I stopped by back-peddling.  The bike had been my Mom’s, which she got when she was sixteen years old.  It was a solidly built bike and very comfortable to ride. 
                I’d get up before work and ride a 10-mile course around town six days a week.  Sometimes I’d ride in the evening, the basket on the front holding a tape-recorder, which I used to play music.  I loved riding on evenings of the early summer, before the days were suffocating with humidity and heat.  Occasionally I’d even go riding in the warm rain. 
Me getting ready to roll!
  In 2007 The Maverick and I went bicycle shopping for a bike for me—and the one I bought was a little too big.  But I did ride it—and The Maverick and I would peddle around Eton, Windsor, and Black Park and around the neighbourhood.  We’d usually stop for tea and a treat.  I really miss doing that now.  But I’m praying that I’ll be able to do that again. 
                The other day The Maverick and I were discussing that I’d been having quite a few bad days over the last week.  We discussed that I needed to picture myself doing the things I wanted to do, and to keep my mind focused on the promises of God.  Some days I do try to push myself, push beyond the weariness, the head-aches and the burning eyes and do what needs doing.  Other days I just surrender to the sleep that wants to claim my body.  My Darling Husband keeps praying for my health to be restored—believing God will answer our prayers.
                I may tease The Maverick about his “pre-occupation” of bicycling—and the preference he has for staring at his computer rather than watch television with me.  But everyday The Maverick makes a point of showering me with cuddles and kisses, as well as teasing me, encouraging me and eating our meals together.  He’s proven that I am his main concern by bringing me treats—like fruit or chocolate.  He concerns himself with doing things around the flat that I want doing, or even that just need doing. 
                As I write this, he’s using some nasty smelling chemicals to clean and service his bicycle—which he refers to as his “Trusty Steed.”  Great!  Thanks for making a mess on my cleaned-up balcony!  Guess the balcony is better than the lounge carpet. 
                Although he could be out riding right now, he’s busy being a good steward; bike maintenance to make this one last as long as it can. 
                As for my bike—it’s out on loan. 
                Truth be told, The Maverick might frustrate me on occasion—as I do him.  For the most part, I enjoy our banter about his hobby—because I believe that eventually I will be healthy enough to share it with him again.  

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

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Things I learned from my mother

           “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6: 6 & 7  

With my mother’s 86th birthday just a few days away, I’ve been thinking about things I’ve learned from her; especially now, since she isn’t quite capable of casual conversation about things. 
Some of my earliest memories are of me being about three years old.  At that point, I was pretty much a Daddy’s girl.  And one of the things I knew about Daddy, was that he liked coming home.  He never was the kind to stop by the local bar or club on the way home.  My father’s faith in God kept his heart at home.  Equally, Mom made sure that our home was a place to which he wanted to come. 
Mom’s dearest desire was to be a home-maker.  There is a difference between a house-keeper and a home-maker.  A house-keeper is house-proud, focusing on how things look.  A home-maker creates a clean, inviting environment where people feel special, cared for, significant.  It wasn’t easy, but Mom worked toward this.  A home-maker understands that she plays a significant role in setting the tone in the home; she is driven by the motivation to provide a place where relationships are established and grow.  A personal faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation my mother built her home around.  Mom taught that faith to us, her children.
Every family has their own way of doing things.  My dad was the kind of person who wanted to eat dinner as soon as he got home from work.  Mom—a home-maker—adapted herself to this preference making sure that when Dad did come home from work, dinner was ready; and, we three children were ready to sit down at the table as well.  My half-brother (five-years older than me,) could use a regular chair, I sat on a booster seat and my sister sat in the high chair. 
                        Our family sat around our table a lot.  Mom taught us these words:  “God is good, God is great.  Let us thank Him for our food.  By His hands we must be fed; thank You Lord, for our daily bread.”  In this practical way we began learning to include God in our lives. 
                        I confess to having a difficult time writing this blog: because I have so many memories.  Which ones do I write about?  What point am I trying to make?  I can see how much my Mom invested into my life; often she had no idea she was doing it.  To be honest, neither did I—until I sit down to write about it.
                        I want to write the truth here, not sugar-coat the friction and unrest that were often in our home.  Nor do I want to justify the mean and ugly things we went through.  Yet, I also want to write about the love that we did share, the forgiveness that was practiced, the courage that was taken hold of in order to persevere and maintain a family unit.  Our family story isn’t about major accomplishments.  More than anything, our story is about facing those daily challenges, simple things that gain value once considered and understood. 
                        Even with the frustration of dementia, Mom’s heart is still holding onto her hope in Christ.  And this is my hope too.  

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

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Wishing the dryer cost nothing to use...

        Life is full of the mundane—boring chores that must be repeated; those things that if not done make life a misery.  Things like grocery shopping, cooking meals, washing up dishes, running the vacuum, and of course, washing dirty laundry.
This morning the promised sun was unveiled as the grey skies cleared.  The warmth has come with it.  It’s the perfect day for spending some time outside; or to hang out washing.  This morning I sorted the dirty laundry into colour appropriate loads.  Two have chugged and churned in the washer and now hang on the line on the balcony.  I told myself that since the weather forecaster has suggested several days of warmth and sun, that I would wash only two loads.  I would do a couple of loads tomorrow.  However, the first load I hung out is nearly dry. By the time the third load has suds-and-spun through the cycle, I can take down the first lot I hung up.  Therefore, I conceded to putting in the third load. 
        Ignoring the growing mound of dirty laundry over the past few weeks has been justified, as the clouds always held great dampness—not to mention the prolific rain.  The clothes just didn’t get dry hanging outside.  And I resent the sight and smell of wet laundry hanging around the flat, waiting to dry.  The flat feels cluttered when it has to be a drying facility for clothes.  So, it was easier to do only a load of washing when necessary.
        Most Brits are accustomed to hanging out laundry to dry year round.  But I was born in America.  People usually dry their laundry in dryers—especially at a laundry mat.  You get the laundry done in a time efficient manner—washer, dryer, fold or hang and put away.  I can usually get the laundry done in just one day.  If I have to hang it up, I have to wait for it to dry.  By the time it is dry, I just don’t want to be bothered with collecting it from the line and putting it away. 
        In the winter, when a clean load of clothes comes out of the washer, and the lounge becomes a drying room, it isn’t uncommon for the clothes to take a couple of days to dry.  And if The Maverick hangs it up, well, I can’t reach it to take it down. 
        Why don’t I just use the dryer then?  Well, our finances have been tight over the last couple of years.  The Maverick has been working diligently to reduce our debts.  Through determined disciple and sacrifice, we are making good progress.  Because we are committed to eliminating the debt all together, I have done what I can to support his hard work.  For instance, I use the kettle to boil water to have my morning wash.  This eliminates the boiler coming on to boil only a ½ litre of water.  And we both will put on a second jumper/sweater as that way we can leave the heating off as long as possible in the autumn and Spring. 
Regarding the clothes dryer, my mind rebelled at suspending the use of the clothes dryer. 
Then I sat down and thought about it. The average load of clothes takes about 80 to 90 minutes to dry.  If we use the dryer twelve times a month that is 1,080 minutes a month that the dryer will run.  Multiply 1,080 minutes per kilowatt, times the cost of a kilowatt—and over time that adds up.  What if those kilowatts cost about £3.50 a month?  Hmmm...  I realised that line-hanging wet laundry did make a difference in the budget.  The Maverick knows I am not keen on the idea—but he also knows that I take seriously his desire to be wise with our money;  by practicing fugal habits. 
It could be worse, I know.  At least The Maverick isn’t asking me to wash all the clothes by hand in our bath tub! 
While I would rather be using the dryer, here’s to saving money and taking advantage of sunny weather to line-dry those clothes!
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith
"Lady Helene"

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Post Number 100!

        This past week I’ve been mulling over what I wanted to write in this, my 100th post.  I thought it deserved something a bit significant.  It wasn’t because I couldn’t think of anything to write about that I didn’t post. 
        Something else was taking up my time.  Around Langley is the parish magazine.  It is produced by the Langley’s local churches for the people of Langley Village.  It is a 20-page magazine.  Originally the magazine was the project of David Tawney.  He edited and produced it.  The main focus was to produce it for the three Church of England congregations in the parish.  (These being St. Mary’s, St. Francis and Christ the Worker. ). Sadly  Mr. Tawney died  in October 2011.  Though he could no longer produce it, several people voiced the opinion that the magazine should be continued—myself included.  I suppose it is the case of a seed falling into the ground so that it can produce many more seeds. 
        After much discussion, the consensus of those involved decided that some changes should be made:
  • ·It would be good to include other churches in the parish—namely Langley Free Church,, and Holy Family Catholic Church, 
  • ·It would be free to the public.  Previously, the magazine was supplied to subscribers.
  • ·The magazine would be published 10 times a year instead of 12.
  • ·The focus of the magazine would shift from being inwardly focused to being an evangelistic tool.
I was in Florida when the first two issues were produced.  I had expressed an interest in helping with the magazine before I left for Florida.  Now that I am back, I wanted to be involved in two ways:  one by writing articles and by taking over doing the layout (desktop publishing.) 
      Thursday morning I spent about four hours setting up the first template.  I had to do that before Friday morning, as I was to meet with Mr. B’ham, who is acting as the head of the magazine committee.  We spent another two hours tweaking the layout.  The good thing is that next month, all we have to do is change the articles.  The standard information is now in place; therefore it will take less time to prepare for the printer. 
      My productiveness has been invested in the magazine—which is why I didn’t get to writing a blog this week. 

      As a new week is presenting itself.  I wanted to share with you a picture from my mind’s eye that occurred during worship this morning.  A young lady was getting baptised this morning, so the service had a slightly different focus.  At the core of the service was our statement of faith, and standing with this young lady as she made a fresh start in her faith. 
      After her baptism was the communion service.  As I was meditating on Jesus’ death and resurrection, my imagination was filled with the image on Jesus on the cross.  The skies were in great darkness.  Jesus, tilted his head back, and with a great cry he proclaims to all heaven and earth; “It is finished.”  (John 19:30)  The words echoed through eternity—from the fall of Adam to the moment in the future of His promised return. 
      As Jesus breathed his last human breath, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  And at that moment, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the temple was torn from top to bottom.  According to Jewish tradition, when a man lamented at disaster, he would tear his garments from top to bottom.  When the temple curtain ripped, with the words “It is FINISHED” reverberating throughout  the atmosphere, it was as if Our Heavenly Father expressed His anguish over sin.  But he was also removing the power of the law that stood between mankind and the God-head.  No more playing hide-and-seek.  Rather, we could come freely, openly into His presence.  Justice was served.  It was done. 
      The beauty of that image stayed with me during communion. 
   My prayer for you is that you also will have moments when you can clearly come to practically and experientially know the love of Christ. 

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

Saturday, 12 May 2012

After three weeks of grey skies, lots of rain and cool temperatures, the sun has come out--for two days in a row.  The air is still cool, especially when the occasional cloud floats in front of the sun.  But a lot of Brits were out in their gardens today, soaking up the sun.

I was going to start this posting with "Oh the sun never shines in Great Britian"  sung to the tune of "It never rains in Southern California..."  but upon thinking about the lyrics of the song, I found it just too depressing.  

Another song was much more appropriate:  "Here comes the sun."

Some of you have been following my blog for quite a while now.  You've read that I struggle with fatigue, tremours, muscle weakness, and foggy thinking at times.  And most of you have been praying for me.  I so appreciate all your prayers. 

It took over two years, but I finally was given an appointment with an endocrinologist.  I saw Dr. Dove on Tuesday, 8th May.  After looking over the list of symptoms I presented to him, reviewing the results of all the blood tests I've had over the last year, (which were listed in my chart), he checked my glands for any lumps that might indicate problems.  He found none.  

Dr. Dove checked my blood pressure, lying down and standing up.  The result brought some great news--my blood pressure was very good, and that I should live a long life.  I found that so reassuring.  

Although the previous blood tests showed normal results, and there were to tell-tale lumps that should not be there, Dr. Dove ordered more blood tests and a 24-hour urine collection.  The purpose of the urine collection was to track cortisol levels, which would indicate if my hormones were not functioning properly.  I am scheduled to return to see him on 10th July to find out the results.  

Ever since I've been home, I've been having some valuable insights.  

In January, before I left for Florida, our vicar called me and The Maverick up for prayer.  At that point, The Maverick gave testimony that he was healed, and all the pain in his neck and back had gone.  

 At his happiest is my husband when can be active and has lots to do.  This energy gets channeled into his passion for bicycling.  He wanted to be healthy enough to ride a bike again.  And not just for the sake of riding--but for the opportunity to ride about 80 to 100 miles a day over five weeks; beginning at John O'Groats to Land's End, across Southern England, across the English Channel and then biking to Nice, France.  The purpose of the ride is to raise finances and awareness of human trafficking and the fight agains child prostitution and pornography.  

I began to think about passion--how it creates hunger, desire that borders on despiration.  And I saw a connection between caring passionately about others that creates a demanding yearning to be healthy.  It's the kind of determination that God honours--because it makes one stir up faith in the heart.  

The Maverick mixed desire with an expectation of healing that would not be denied.  

The realisation became clear to me, that my faith and expectation for healing were latent, passive.  Intellectually, I know God heals.  Yet, my focus wasn't on God, but rather on looking to doctors.  I was walking the long, tedious, frustrating and prolonged path of seeking a solution from science.  

Because I was "busy sleeping my life away" due to fatigue, I wasn't focusing on what God might be saying to me.  Going to the doctors is appropriate.  After all, God calls people to be doctors, nurses, nurse-practitioners, mid-wives, etc.  But my focus was on what they could do for me, and not on God.  

It was as if I was willing--even wanted--to have something wrong with me.  If I couldn't function, well, perhaps it excused me from taking on too much responsibility.

The other day, I became angry about something.  Small though it was, the result is that it caused me to (1) have energy that needed to be directed and (2) moved me to action.  By holding onto the anger, it created a productive energy.

As I was later standing in the bedroom, I realised that back in 1994 I had experienced a similiar kind of anger.  I was in Texas, studying in the School of Writing, at YWAM's University of the Nations.  Pain radiated from my lower back down my left leg.  I couldn't sit in a chair comfortably.  I listened to all my lectures lying on the floor.  I did my homework flat on the bed.  

Finally I was so frustrated I got angry.   It was the kind of anger that said, "I'm tired of this situation."  It was the kind of anger that stirred up boldness to pray this prayer:  "God, either You can heal me or You can't.  Either Your word is true, or it isn't.  I can't be flat on my back and be an active writer at the same time.  Either You heal me, or I'm going back to Indiana and living a second-best life."

From that point onward, I "had to have it", healing.  The resources for treatment presented themselves.  My back was treated and responded to treatment.  Something inside me reached up to my Heavenly Father and took hold of His promises--faith arose from within me. 

As I stood remembering that incident 18 years ago, the Holy Spirit seemed to be communicating to me that I needed to once again stir up righteous anger toward complacency.  It was time for my spirit to rise up, grab hold of faith, and procure what Jesus paid for on the cross.  

I remembered what Jesus said about the kingdom:  "And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, the violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize--a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].  Matthew 11:12

I haven't always been sure of what that passage meant.  If Jesus tells us to rest from our labours, and to be at peace, how could we be violent?  Yet, the word "violent" in this passage means forceful.  According to Strongs Concordance, in this passage, the word "violent" in Hebrew is biastes.  It refers to a person who strives to obtain the privileges of the kingdom of heaven with the utmost eagerness and effort.

In my mind, I remembered all the times I'd said to people: "I want my life back."  Over the last couple of weeks it has been made clear to me that instead of simply "wanting my life back", I had to make an effort to TAKE my life back.  

So, now I am determined to once again see The Holy Spirit restore life to my body.  (Romans 8:11)

On 1st May, I was lying on my bed, resting before we went to the Parish Prayer Supper that evening.  As my body rested, my heart and mind were busy.  I was finally ready to admit that perhaps part of my unwellness could be psychologically based.  I was ready to get serious about healing.  So I prayed, "Lord Jesus, if my illness is psychosomatic/psychological, then deal with me.  Show me the root of my fears, anxieties, frustration, or whatever.  But if the fatique and retinue of maladies is actually physical, biologically based, then please reveal it." 

So whilst I'm waiting for the result of the blood tests, I am going to be determinedly examining my heart and mind, asking the Holy Spirit to lead me on this journey.
And why?  Because I want to be a productive Child of God.  I want to walk in the destiny God planned for me.  Because I want to be a prolific writer.  I want to use my gift to encourage people.  I want to write stories that lead people to fall in love with Jesus.  And I have to have a clear mind and physical energy to do that.  I need to travel to do research--which means I need to have energy and strength.  I want to be a servant who brings glory to the God who calls me by name.  

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,

"Lady Helene" 


Friday, 11 May 2012

Mothers Who Love(d) Me

Sunday, 13th May is approaching.  The second Sunday in May, and Mother's Day in the USA, South Africa and many other countries.  In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Nigeria, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, which is usually March.  To find out when Mother's Day is commemorated throughout the world, check out this website:

"Mama Maverick"
Both my mother and my mother-in-law were born in May.  The Maverick's Mum was born on 8th May, 1918.  My mother was born on 31st May, 1926.

The photo here was taken in December 2004.

 "Mama Maverick" was an amazing lady.  She was born and raised in South Africa.  She enlisted in the army during World War II.  When she went to sign up, the recruiter wanted to put her into the typing pool.  None of that for her!  When the recruiter asked her what she wanted to do, she wanted to be a driver.  And a driver she became.  The Maverick is fond of saying that the only things his Mum never drove were a train, a plane and a ship.  Somewhere there is a photo of her on a motor bike with a dispatch bag.  And yes, "Mama Maverick" even drove a tank!  

"Mama Maverick" died 3rd August 2005, at age 87.

My Mom, taken 28th May 2006.
Here is a photo I took of my Mom a few days before her 80th birthday, in 2006.  

My Mom was too young to sign up for World War II.  She was a teen-ager when the USA was pulled into the war.  She still rememebers hearing the news over the radio of the bombing of Pearl Harbour.  She told me that she would join a group of women at the local court house to knit scarves for the soldiers.  

"I never knew you learned to knit."  I said with raised eyebrows.

"Yes, well, I did.  But we had to use an ugly brown yarn to make hats and scarves, and I think that put me off knitting."  

I'm very grateful for the investment my mother made into my life.  She taught me so much, and I will write about some of the things she taugh me in future blogs.  

Mom will be 86 years old on the 31st of May this year.

But I'd like to mention another woman who have been "Mothers-in-the-Lord."  This women have invested in me, prayed with and prayed for me, and I just want to praise the Lord and honour her here.

Mrs. Elsie G.:  I met Elsie back in 1985.  Having moved back to Indianapolis from Florida, she was a guest in the same house where I was renting a room.  My first impression when I met her at church was that she was serious.  But after I got to know her, I learned she was full of life.  She was a teen-ager trapped in a body over 70!  Elsie had been involved with Lydia Fellowship International, a prayer and intercession ministry.   Whilst I was away doing my Discipleship Training School at Holmsted Manor, England, she prayed for me every day.  I always knew when she was praying for me.  When I returned to Indianapolis after my DTS, Elsie & I began meeting together weekly to pray together.  She continued to pray for me through the years, no matter where I was working with Youth With A Mission.  

When The Maverick and I got married, "Mama Maverick" was too frail to travel from South Africa to America for the wedding.  To honour her place in my life, we asked Elsie to sit on the groom's side of the church, as mother of the groom.  She was thrilled.  

Elsie died on July 13, 2006 at 86 years old.

There are many women within the Church, the body of Christ, who are mentors, teachers, encouragers--also know as Spiritual Mothers.  My life is richer because of them--even the ones that I don't have space to write about here.  I pray they will be blessed--not just on an annual basis because the calendar says we should.  I pray they will be blessed every day because of their commitment to love.

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,

"Lady Helene"