It’s almost time …

As I followed him down the hallway last week, I was struck by the difference a few years can make. 

He’s much taller than me now, by at least a head. That same head that used to rest in the hollow of my arm. 

Day by day, the shoulders are becoming broader and stronger, and it becomes clear to me that the shoulders that once shook with sobs over small injustices, are built to carry loads all of their own. 

The feet now so many sizes bigger than my own, that once fitted neatly into the palm of my hand, are about to make their own way in the world.

If I could turn back the clock, just a little, I would.

Not for his sake – but for mine.

If I could wake up in the middle of the night to the cries again – I think this time I’d be more patient. 

I’d probably read an extra story or two each night, with the voices as requested. 

I’d sing a few more bedtime songs, and I’d probably even go and fetch more, much needed drinks of water. 

I’d definitely play with Lego more often. 

I guess the important thing now is to live these moments as they occur.

The school days are passing just as they are meant to, maybe a little too quickly for my liking. Wishing the earlier days back just means I miss now and now is beautiful too. Did I ever imagine I’d be discussing “Macbeth” or “King Lear”with that little guy who was requesting another reading of “The Gruffulo” with the voices ? I’m not conscious that thought ever crossed my mind! Yet here we are.  

That essence of that little guy is still there – he’s just older now, he’s wiser, but he’s still kind, he’s still joyful, he’s the things I’d hoped and prayed he would be. 

Maybe as parents we don’t realise that in order for them to become the people we hope they’ll be, we end up feeling a little left behind.

I didn’t realise that one day I’d be the one popping into his room for a chat. I didn’t realise I’d be wishing that time would slow down just a little. 

I’m beginning to understand the sentiment behind those “it goes so quickly, enjoy every moment” comments I heard as an exhausted, overwhelmed parent of a newborn.

But, it’s happening the way it should. He’s ready for the next stage – the school days are nearly done. 

It’s me who isn’t quite ready … but I’ve got a few weeks and I’m working on it! 

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It’s September already …

In a few months – two of my favourite people will be graduating from high school, in this, the year of Covid. 

The boy (mine-ours)

The girl (his-ours) 

To be honest I’m not sure how to process all that this year has thrown at us and them. 

It has been a year of lasts and a year of firsts. There was the obvious first of the disruption of Covid and then the challenges associated with the final year of school and being the first cohort through the new senior system in Queensland. 

While the year has been challenging for all of us – it has been a big year for our senior students. 

As parents of seniors we’ve been poignantly aware of the firsts and the lasts in the climate of a pandemic. But then as I reflected on it, I guess every year is a series of firsts and lasts, whether we are aware of them or not.  

It’s September already and so: 

one day soon we will have our final drive to school as two teachers and two yr 12 students. 

one day soon he will drop into my staffroom to borrow my keycard because he’s left his at home for the last time.

one day soon I’ll hear her, and her friends, laughing in the classroom next door, for the last time.

some time soon I’ll see him wandering to class with his friends, for the last time. 

some time soon I’ll ask “is your uniform clean for tomorrow?” for the last time. 

one day soon she’ll pass by my classroom giving her trademark peace sign, for the last time.

some time soon I’ll receive the last “when are we leaving” text message. 

one day soon I’ll see her face appear at my staffroom window, for the last time. 

one day they’ll both perform on that stage, where they both now appear to be at home, for the last time.  

and …

some day soon I’ll hear “Hello Mum” from a taller than me man-child in school uniform, for the last time …

It’s been a massive blessing to have driven to school with him almost every day for the past 13 years, and with her for a lot of the past 8. It’s been a great joy to be there and know that he’s there every day. We’ve come a long way.

In all of the bittersweetness, this year has also brought us an overwhelming pride that these two have made it. 

The two who are graduating have certainly both survived some challenges – especially in the past two years. These two are incredibly strong young people. Stronger and more resilient than most would give them credit for. They are two young people who have risen up and out of situations that would crush most. 

As far as I can tell we haven’t even begun to see what these two have to offer. 

I’m certain that everything they have been through will be used for good. I’m sure it already is being used for good. 

After all that’s what the God we serve does. 

He takes what was meant to harm us and uses it for our good. 

He takes the prison experience of one and turns it into the salvation of a nation.

He takes a desert experience and he brings about the redemption of his people. 

He takes weakness and pours in his strength. 

He takes scars and uses them to heal others. 

He takes hurts and turns them into blessings. 

He takes loss and converts it to eternal gain.

He takes mourning and fashions it into dancing. 

He takes ashes and transforms it to beauty.

He takes the lonely and settles them in families. 

He takes dry bones and breathes life into them.

He takes deserts and reshapes them into streams. 

He takes heartache and remakes it into a song.

the song

I guess that’s the way we look at the year as we move forward — it’s not the year we were expecting but then — when can we ever say that a year has been what we were expecting? 

All I know to do, is, to expect that there will be joy, there will be sorrow, there will be loss, there will pain, there will be growth. Each year we will hopefully exit wiser than we entered it. 

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Two expressions I’ve grown to appreciate a little more this week:

Keep Calm and Carry On

(til they tell you to stop)

This week I think I’ve started to realise what “Keep Calm and Carry On” really means and the importance of this axiom. With each new piece of advice from the government, we adjust and we continue on. As teachers, we are kind of tone setters for a significant number of people who are in our care each day.  And I think we are doing okay, the feeling of uncertainty and anticipation is a little exhausting … but calmness is the overarching theme.

Calmness, like panic, seems to be contagious, as are gratitude and joy. This is coming from the woman who this morning launched a full-scale cleaning assault on her nightstand in an attempt to regain some sense of control over things!  Of all the areas to focus on! So I’m clearly still in the learning phase.

Give us this day our daily bread

(or panadol, toilet paper, pasta, Ventolin)

With things as they are: the Planner (control freak) in me is working over-time. She’s seeing people stockpiling and wondering if she should, then remembering, of course, she shouldn’t be, the stockpilers are causing others to stockpile, which is causing panic … and remember we are going to “keep calm and carry on”. Then she sees someone stockpiling … repeat cycle.  She’s totally exhausting the part of me that wants to be laid back and calm who keeps repeating “the main thing is to be calm” …

The Planner is currently in check, she’s not stockpiling, but she is low-key planning ahead and raising questions like How am I going to cook bread? The Planner then gets Keep Calm me regretting my life choices .. why wasn’t I one of those “bread making” wives and mothers?? Why didn’t I ask for a bread maker at Christmas time in case this situation ever arose … (Pun because of the bread) In fact, requesting a bread-maker is actually the yeast I could have done for the family to avoid the bread shortage that is just around the corner. (It’s not really happening — Planner me is getting carried away again.) Before we go on, however, to my family reading this, neither Planner me nor Keep Calm me wants a bread-maker … or a Thermomix. That’s for those Thermo mixers out there who are about to attempt to sell us one. Yes, I know your Thermie can do everything… and yes I know you mean EVERYTHING. Yes, you can probably even make toilet paper in it if you pick the right setting. In fact, I expect once we are all in the inevitable isolation period yet to hit us full scale in Australia – your trusty ol’ Thermomix will whip up a few extras rolls of tp and then get right on to teaching the kids quadratic equations.

Seriously though, this thing isn’t going away and we need to be wise and we need to take it all day by day. That message here is for me by the way. The most confronting thing this past week for me has been realising how often in my life I actually believe myself to be in control, and I’m not. What I find myself being reminded of yet again is the perceived level of control I have over my life is little more than a single-ply toilet-tissue thin veneer …

That’s why the prayer Jesus modeled for us is about daily bread … necessities … not enough to stockpile, but enough for the day.

So, that’s just about it, my return to the blog is short, well because I have bread-making techniques to research.

Just to clarify there is no bread shortage … Planner me just trying to preempt one. I think what will happen is after the first attempt at bread, Keep Calm me will decide that maybe we can live without it for a while! Then the Planner will move on to other more serious considerations like; should we have bought chickens like our friends did?  We do eat quite a few eggs … and bacon … maybe we should have acquired some pigs?

Before I go some thoughts from Keep Calm me — a few gems to meditate on:

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Disclaimer:

We don’t need bread, please don’t give us bread … or chickens … or a pig … or a bread maker or a Thermomix … it’s hyperbole.

If you need anything friends, let us know .. ask or tell someone … there are people out there who will help and share!!

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It’s December the 24th … again.

If you watch enough Christmas movies you know what is meant to happen at Christmas. There’s meant to be a Christmas “miracle” of some sort, everyone is meant to receive that one thing that will complete them. The amazing toy that was sold out everywhere is found wrapped under the tree, the true love who suddenly appears in some miraculous way, the return of the wandering child.  At the end everyone is laughing and happiness is all around and Christmas is revealed to be a truly magical time for all. 

What we do know to be true is that Christmas is about redemption, it is about grace, it is about mercy … now for some of you that might mean, for you, Christmas is going to be difficult. 

For some of you all those Christmas movie expectations leave you feeling a little disappointed because for you, your Christmas is more akin to the Costanza’s celebration of Festivus. Perhaps the Ebenezer Scrooge in your life does not repent of his selfish, miserly behaviour, the grinch you know has a heart that continues to shrink and he follows through on his intention to make everyone suffer. 

For some I know this Christmas is the first without a dear loved one. We are praying for you. 

For some I know this Christmas comes at the end of a tough year, not just a “I didn’t get what I wanted” year — a year in which you were betrayed, let down, disappointed, abandoned, disregarded and ignored, a year of massive pain, massive heartache and hardship and one that has left you altered. This year you may have discovered that the ones who always swore they had your back didn’t, the ones who you were meant to admire and aspire to be, turned out to be mere mortals, or perhaps worse.

Your life is not a made for television Christmas movie. 

Your life is more like a gritty reality tv show.

The reality we need to remember is that Christmas is about a gift given. 

A gift that can be received gratefully or can be discarded callously. 

A gift that came in the form of a baby. 

A birth. 

The birth that we celebrate was a lonely one. 

It was a “far away from home” birth. 

It was a birth that was at once celebrated and despised. 

That baby born was the Light of the World.  

Maybe this year your Christmas is a lonely one – maybe you’re Ebenezer, maybe you are the one on the outside of the family, the one who has done the letting down. Maybe you’ve put self first so often that you are all you’re left with, maybe you are the one who has caused the pain, maybe you are the one whose actions have set a whole mess in motion and now you are paying for it. 

Maybe it’s time for you to look at what this time of year is actually about. 

It’s about the light entering the darkness, it’s about peace coming into a weary world, it’s about hope for the hopeless, it’s about joy replacing sorrow. 

It’s about you and the one you really need to know – not just Jesus the little baby, but Jesus the man. 

The One who was born to die for the pain you’ve caused, the wrongs you’ve committed, the damage you’ve done, your shortcomings and your failures. 

This year is different for us yet again – we’ve had some different ones in the past, this one is set to be different yet again. 

We will spend time with some of our loved ones, we will invest in the ones we are with and we will pray that the Light of the world, the One who we are celebrating will shine into the dark areas that are in conflict with goodness, light, life, grace, mercy, peace and justice. 

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Waiting … on or in?

Perhaps it’s because teacher me is marking and drafting at the moment or perhaps it’s because I’ve reached the time of year when my focus on things turns towards the hyper – but I’ve been thinking about the difference between waiting on and waiting in. What follows should not be considered a foray into some unchartered area of lexical discovery, nor should it be considered of academic value – it’s just one of the things I’ve been thinking.

The Christian life is one of waiting in God.

While waiting on God is what we are told to do, I’ve been thinking the way some of us talk about “waiting on God” seems a little passive. It sounds a bit more like wishful thinking. It often relates to the things we want … I think it rolls off the tongue too easily.  Comments like, “Oh well we’re waiting on God” are so often repeated and heard that they begin to sound a little empty, like platitudes. It’s difficult not to hear a bit of a negative tone to it – almost as though God is falling behind my plans – His timing is a little slack on this “thing” … and I’m waiting for Him to catch up with me.

I’ve been thinking that waiting in God perhaps has a better tone/connotation to it.  It seems less passive and more like a place of security,  a place of peace,  a place of comfort, a place of shelter, more like an act that is associated with relationship. In this case “in” is where you belong, where you are at home, where you are known, where you are a member of the family.

Waiting in God conjures the imagery of being surrounded by Him, the visual of being so close and so completely enveloped that neither of you has fallen behind the other. One is, in fact, carrying the other through the storms, trials, sorrows, and joys of life. The two are bound together, one is abiding in the other. In John 15 – there are some fairly clear guidelines regarding the life of a Christian – Abiding in the vine …. that has somewhat informed my thoughts around this idea – on the vine is something a passing beetle might do for a period of time.

Waiting in God through circumstances requires trust, you need to know Him to wait in Him. You need to know something about who He is,  and also something about who you are. It’s not possible to wait in someone, who you feel is inferior to you, and as long as you think God owes you something or God needs to work according to your time frame; whether or not you want to admit it, you view Him as inferior to you.  You won’t wait in someone who you feel has let you down, someone who has failed you, someone who is at your beck and call – that’s someone who is easier to wait on than wait in.

One more thing I have realised is when I am waiting in Him, the enemy can still take shots at me. In fact, you can guarantee the shots will keep coming. If I am in Him the shots aimed at me are absorbed by One who is greater. And maybe if they are really getting to me, I’m on the outside, like a passing beetle, instead of being inside — a member of the family.

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Maybe all I’m suggesting is that as we wait on Him, which we all do, those times afford us the opportunity to examine ourselves as to whether we are also waiting in Him.

 

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Scarred …

Scars are incongruous with the life of ease we desire.

A life of ease does not include scars or pain.

A life of ease is one where self is satisfied

A life of ease does not lend itself to compassion.

A life of ease does not need a Saviour.

A life of ease does not need a Mediator.

A life of ease does not need a Redeemer.

A life of ease needs no Creator.

A life of ease needs no Sacrifice.

A life of ease is not the life of Christ.

The closer you draw to Him, the clearer your vision of the hands that are healing and ministering to you becomes, and with that clarity you see those hands are scarred.

Scarred because of your shame, your pride, your fears, your wrongs. 

Some days we forget that we have been called to follow one who suffered.

One who suffered

Loss,

Humiliation,

Rejection,

Abandonment,

Abuse,

False accusations,

Pain,

Separation

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Scars are a sign of suffering, a sign that something went wrong – but they can also be a sign of reparation.

The life of ease you long for does await you.

It has been fought for and won for you. The scars He now bears are the scars He earned in that battle.

When we have difficult days that cause us to long for that life of ease, we need to remember that the difficult days are days that will be used to grow us more into His image. And the more we grow into His image, the more we have to recognise some of the most defining moments in our experience of being conformed to His image, result in scars.

After all, that’s how we truly came to know Him and His heart – through His scars. And it is our scars that draw us closer to Him.

 

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Better days …

Dear one,

Some people seem to coast through life with ease, they seem to have a charmed existence, there are seemingly no storm clouds on their horizons, no waves on their ocean, no darkness in their days. They seemingly live trouble free.

Dear one, this has not been our experience — sometimes I wish it had been. But it has not, and I don’t know who we would be now if it had.

What I need you to know — and I know you do know this deep down — is that even these current clouds, waves and darkness will become clear, smooth and light in the end.

These moments will make you the person He has designed you to be.

These moments will equip you for the work He has for you.

These moments will be the making of you.

This does not mean that it will hurt any less. You will, one day, look back on this time and realise there was a purpose  — there was a reason.

It was painful, it was difficult, but it was ultimately for your good.   

The other thing you need to remember is – that while this may have taken you by surprise, it has not taken Him by surprise. 

When you have these kind of turbulent experiences what you need to know is that your Creator, the One who has created you for good works, the One who knew you before He laid the foundation of the world knew this was coming your way.

He will also carry you through it, He will bring you out the other side, He will make sure that you do not get lost in it – or buried by it.

He does not simply know your name, dear one, He knows your hurts, He keeps your tears in a bottle, He knows the number of hairs on your head, He can see the thoughts of your heart, He knows the days of your life — more than that, He has written them in His book even before you were.

This might make you wonder why there is a day like that day or a day like this day … all I can tell you is one day all of those days will make sense. That may sound defeatist to some — but to me it is hopeful.

It is biblical. 

It is Joseph being wrongly accused and thrown into prison,

it is Abraham preparing to sacrifice his long promised son,

it is Hannah praying year after year for a child,

it is David, the anointed one, being pursued and hunted,

it is Hagar calling out for water in the desert,

it is the three being thrown into the fire,

it is Daniel in the lion’s den,

it is the lame man unable to get to the healing water,

it is Jesus suffering silent before His false accusers,

it is Jesus going to the cross for wrongs he has not committed,

it is the women going to where His body was laid,

all of these days point to a better day.

All of these kind of days point to a better day … a clear, bright and glorious day.

Lift up your eyes, look it up, it is on the horizon.


 

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It’s December the 24th …

… and I’m trying to work out where 2018 has gone.

Our community Christmas carols event has been and gone again, already, and that for us, really signals that the year is almost wrapped up – once again.

There are presents to be wrapped, cards to be written and if I’m honest, presents still to be bought and a few groceries to be purchased too.

The goal this year has been to keep it all under control, to avoid that frantic gift buying that, at this point each year, sees me thinking that everyone needs “just one more little thing”. This year we are each buying for one family member – we had a vote, we decided this was the way to go – however over the past few days I’ve been struggling a little with this largely self imposed restriction. Part of it is that I think I might love giving gifts, the other part is this time of year is a bombardment of things/stuff that your loved ones; might want, do want or, would want if they knew it existed. However, after all the dust settles on Christmas morning or afternoon — what is left behind is a mountain of discarded wrapping paper, cards, half sticky sticky-tape and a pile of new things that now need a home.

IMG_1061.JPGYesterday I found myself riding that wave again … maybe I should just get one more thing. Thankfully in the back of my mind was the message my husband gave at the aforementioned carols night, I’m going to include the text here – it was one of those messages that came out of a big discussion we had as he prepared for the evening.  Truth be told, it happened on the day, he had a whole other message ready to go — but two of his most trusted critics, myself and someone reading this right now – you know who you are … thought maybe it wasn’t yet quite the right message.  Every extrovert needs to know a good introvert or two … and every introvert needs a good extrovert. ( Yes, I said one..! 😉 )

Before I hand over to him — yesterday in my processing time I realised two things:

  1. The need to buy “one more thing” stems from the desire to ensure that no one walks away from Christmas disappointed …
  2. Christmas is about joy, hope, peace — if we walk away from Christmas feeling disappointed, then we’ve made it about something else.

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And with that, I direct you to Scott’s message: He may have used a little poetic licence with dates, and I may have edited a little but the message remains the same.

 


 

Who loves Christmas?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours was doing some Christmas shopping and came across a mum who was trying to deal with her little girl chucking a tantrum because she wasn’t allowed to get the things she wanted. The mum got so overwhelmed by it all that she pretended to call Santa to tell him to cancel Christmas because her child was being so naughty … Now I am going to assume that in a week or so, that kid will still get some great gifts … even if she doesn’t deserve them.

You see, I think this is part of why we love Christmas so much … I think there is something in our hearts that draws us to Christmas … and part of this is a little word HOPE.

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The hope that we won’t get what we deserve.

The hope that the bad things we may have done have been forgiven and forgotten.

The hope that those arguments and differences we’ve had with others can be put aside even for just a day.

We all know that we haven’t been perfect but we still HOPE to have a wonderful time at Christmas.

Let me take you back to 1984 … I was 10 years old … Let’s just say, it wasn’t my finest year! My family lived on a Lucerne farm in the Lockyer Valley and our only source of drinking water was from rain water tanks. They were old, corrugated-iron water tanks that were getting a bit rusty … all part of the taste!

For some strange reason, and I still don’t know what was going on in my head, I decided to use the water tank as a dart board. So, I was throwing darts at the tanks and if they hit a rusty spot, they stuck in. And this seemed fun. The problem was, when I pulled them out, a little spout of water would shoot out. Let’s just say my mum and dad weren’t impressed with my dart throwing skills.

If that wasn’t bad enough, later that year, my sister and I decided to prank call the emergency services and tell them there were fires happening at our friend’s farms. A visit to the police station and getting to meet some very angry policemen was enough to deter me from trying that prank ever again. And once again my mum and dad were, let’s just say, a little disappointed in me. As I said, it wasn’t my finest year!

However, something weird happened at Christmas time … this thing called Hope emerged again. I certainly wasn’t deserving of anything … maybe I should have got a lump of coal for Christmas.

Yet that Christmas I received one of the best presents ever … the thing I most wished for – TEST MATCH!

Do you remember your favourite Christmas? What happened to make it that way? Was it the gifts? Or was it the holiday time with family? Was it the great feast you had?

I am pretty sure it wasn’t because you’d had a perfect year… In fact maybe it was one of the worst years for you and yet Christmas brought hope and peace and joy …maybe this year has been the worst year for you, and you are not looking forward to Christmas at all … but somewhere deep inside of you there is still that hope that things are going to get better.

You see this is why Christmas day is one of the most significant days in history … the day Jesus Christ was born.

Christmas day didn’t get cancelled because we were bad.

Christmas day exists because we are bad!

God loved us so much that He gave as a gift his son Jesus.

He was born into this world as a little baby – and He was given the name “Jesus” because He came to save us from our sins (our dart-throwing and prank-calling; our ‘badness’). The bible tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. God loved us so much that He became one of us; to be like us; to experience life like us; and to live life perfectly because we can’t.

And He is the best gift we can receive.

You see we are part of God’s ultimate story…that is why that within us, no matter what we have done or who we are, there is Hope because of Jesus. Jesus Himself said,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come.”

God has given us the best gift; in fact He has given us the only gift we need – and that is Jesus.

Our prayer for you this Christmas season is that you will think seriously about Jesus, because it is His birthday we celebrate.

Please consider who He is, what He has done for you and your part in God’s ultimate story.


 

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Finding gems …

At some point in your life or maybe many points in your life you are going to have to just grit your teeth, suck it up, and stick to it in a difficult situation.

One of our children was recently expressing a little discontentment with a situation he/she found herself/himself in — enter Anne and her inspirational speech mode — but before I subject you to it, first allow me to give you a little context.

Last school holidays we did a road trip to Emerald to visit my husband’s parents. Now if you know Emerald at all, you’ll know it’s quite close (the kids didn’t really think so) to the gem fields, so a trip to the gem fields was expected – mostly by me. I was hoping for an amazing piece of jewellery without the bank balance to go with it! At least one of the teens had visions of finding an amazing gem 💎 another expressed skepticism in the whole endeavour – “they’ll just be giving us stuff they’ve looked through with nothing in it” … “what a scam to pay for a bucket of dirt that has nothing in it”. We as parents were hoping that at the least, all those hours invested in Minecraft were at last going to pay off … but I digress..

We visited the first gem field and wandered around the shop for a while. I quickly discovered that with our holiday budget, if I was going to find the Australian version of the heart of the ocean, I was going to have to purchase a claim and find the sapphire myself. Unfortunately time would not permit this, so we decided to buy a bucket of gravel/dirt/sand and start panning.IMG_5570.JPG

We headed out to the hot sun (as the only one who forgot to take a hat it’s important I mention the heat of the sun at this juncture because, should you decide to hit the fields you’ll want to take a hat) and were talked through the process.

For the more procedural amongst you I’ve laid it out below:

Materials:

one bucket of gravel

two sieves

one wheelbarrow

one water trough

two sorting tables

two scrubbing brush

a few tiny little ziplock bags to house the treasures (I was a little concerned – the heart of the ocean wasn’t going to fit in this.)

We were then talked through the method:

Method:

1. Pour dirt/gravel from bucket into sieve. No .. not all of it. 

2. Shake sieve over wheelbarrow to remove excess sand etc 

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3. Move to the trough.

4. Put sieve into trough and move sieve up and down – this will move heavier pieces to the bottom – and hopefully remove clay etcIMG_5585.JPG

5. Remove from trough – let water drain out.

6. Over to the sorting table.

7. Now the for the trickiest part of the exercise – the sieve needs to flipped and the contents emptied on to the table (not the ground)

8. At this point it’s time to start searching … the gems should be sparkling on the top of the heap.

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Yep, that’s a sapphire!

 

9. The trick at this point is telling the difference between gems and sparkly rocks.

I’d like to say we nailed it … we didn’t …

We had two helpers for the first go – a guide probably in her 60s and a girl who was maybe 10 years old. They were spotting gems like experts … mainly because they were experts. But we didn’t have our “gem” eyes in yet.

We were not professionals, we found a few that’s for sure … but there was no heart of the ocean hidden in that bucket .. maybe were too far inland?

My lecture to the unfortunate child who had expressed discontentment was, sometimes you have to go searching for the gems – it’s going to take work … it’s going to take effort, you will need to go looking for them – they can be hidden in the mundane, in the dull, in the dusty, and in the grimy places. But in everything you should be able to find them – every bucket at that place has an assortment of zircons and sapphires some blue, some green, some yellow. You’ve just got to focus, and look for that glimmer, sometimes it’s oh so faint. In our every day, day to day, the glimmer can be found in a person, a conversation, a moment of peace in an otherwise busy day, a smile, a cheery hello, a moment that you would not have experienced had you been elsewhere.

At this point the hapless teen nodded with some enthusiasm and expressed agreement to the analogy I was labouring, and I think, probably hoped that it was one of my shorter lectures so he could get on with his day.

After we’d panned the contents of the bucket we went into have our haul inspected by the jeweller. 

We thought we’d done well – she was slightly less impressed – she thought we would/should have found more than we did, guess there were a few we threw away.

Then with her practised eye, her loupe (yep I looked that one up – though I’m not sure that’s what she is wearing in the photo below) a mirror and light source she got to the business of separating our haul into two groups.

    IMG_5594.JPG     IMG_5595.JPG     IMG_5635.jpg

One was the precious stones and the other a pile of what she called “pretty rocks”. At the end of the process our slightly crestfallen faces told the tale that’s been told time and time again, while searching for gems we’d been distracted by pretty rocks.

From that I took a few things away; one was how offended we were when she asked us if we wanted the pretty rocks … of course we didn’t … didn’t you just say they were worthless … honestly how silly do you think we are..!!!

Another was that one of the key things that helped her to distinguish a gem from a rock  — was how well it reflected light. When placed on a mirror did the light shine through it, or not?

Sometimes I think we throw the gems out with the rubbish because we don’t recognise them, we don’t spend enough time training our eyes to look for the Light.

From our experience on the gem fields we learned that the rocks and sand and clay are easy to find. And sometimes life is the same, all you have is clay and dirt, dust and gravel …. you search for the gems but the circumstances are such that maybe there aren’t even any pretty rocks to attract you, you’re holding it all up to the Light but there are no gems to be found. 

You could, on those days, try to keep hope, convinced that the precious things must be somewhere — but all the panning, rinsing, searching in the world isn’t drawing those gems to the top. Maybe on these days, and those days will come, maybe on those days … it’s you … the gem is you. Maybe you’re the one who’s been turned over and you’ve had all of the clay and sand and dirt washed off you, and you are the one the Light is shining through.

 

 

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Infidelity, unfaithfulness, adultery …

These words come to mind again as the headlines in our newspapers, and in our online news services in Australia declare another fall from grace, and another couple goes through publicly what is an intensely private, searingly painful, shattering and life altering experience.

While the many who haven’t experienced this, watch in disbelief as all the sordid details unfold, and shake their heads in incredulity — all the while there is a woman, struggling to catch her breath, reminding her heart to beat and wondering how to take one step after another. Some who watch this unfold in this public forum may glance away from the headlines to see that their own wounds have opened a little, or find, perhaps, the scars are beginning to itch.

The moment:

For those of you who haven’t been granted membership to this particular club, there’s a level of betrayal that comes in the moment when you learn about infidelity that is unlike anything else you will ever experience…

you suddenly drop off a precipice, 

you plunge either flailing or with an eerie stillness into the freezing cold waters of rejection that suck the air out of your lungs

before you know it, you are hit hard by a merciless wave,

this somehow, at once, fills your nose and mouth

and pummels your core

you recoil only to discover that where your heart, stomach and internal organs once were is now, instead, a gnawing, gnarling, gaping void …

turbulent ocean

I vividly remember trying to get out of ear shot of the 3 and 1/2 year old in order to answer my mother’s shocked,

“What has happened?”

My strength failed just shy of the top step,

and I came to rest there with the “work” mobile in my hand,

while it was now peacefully sleeping …

the names of strangers danced in my mind’s eye,

and the messages, 

those messages,

… the incongruity of those messages and the protests of innocence still ringing in my ears.

Where do I sit?

Am I going to vomit?

Or cry?

Or just do … nothing … 

Hit by a wave of helplessness, suddenly you find yourself strangely disoriented in a place that was, until moments ago, a safe place.

Whether the moment of revelation was one that came as a complete surprise – or if it was something that you knew on an intuitive level; the moment when the realisation that those fears have been realised hits … numbness descends. Even if it was something that you had suspected, at this point there is no sense of vindication or relief. …

Your ears are humming, buzzing and ringing, yet you could swear that all the sound has drained from the world …

now they are burning and tingling as though pricked by hundreds of tiny pins and needles … 

then that tingling, prickling sensation begins to slowly travel down from the top of your head    

To the observer however, you are bereft of colour and beads of sweat glisten on your brow …

perhaps now you start to tremble, because despite the fact that you feel uncomfortably warm all over, in that same moment — you are also extremely cold.

It is shock, and I can only aim at describing it. In reality, it is an intensely emotional and visceral experience. 

Let’s not sugar coat it people, it is trauma – and the damage that this leaves is not visible because it resides in your heart, and mind.

The recovery:

If you have been there – what you know is, that while this is the worst moment, surprisingly this moment is also the beginning of your recovery. The waves that wash over you can’t be avoided — they must engulf and envelope you — but like all waves, these will ebb and flow away.

The tide retreats and you find yourself, just short of the top step, the water has subsided and now you have to get up.

Your colour slowly returns, your ears resume their function, your lungs remember they need air and your heart remembers its primary purpose — and while may have shattered into a million tiny pieces — it beats on.

The recovery can be very slow and it can be painful. From now on you will move from numbness to anger to rage to fear to shame to sadness and back again …. I know for some time I ran the gamut of emotions daily.

You will need a few things – a good counsellor,  some wise and good family and friends, and you will need my God. 

Before I go onto the hope, one more thing, even 11 years on – there is a feeling that descends on me at the beginning of Feb each year. I’m often puzzled as to why this feeling, mood, disquietness descends on me … I then eventually remember that it is that time of year again. It is a trauma – if you know someone in it or if you are someone in it … please recognise that this not just a “get over it” kind of thing.

The hope:

When it comes to the relationship some of you find that your partner has made the choice for you (he/she has gone), some find that the betrayal is such that you cannot salvage anything, while some of you have the opportunity to remain and move toward healing the relationship.

Whatever your present situation, the hope is the same for you – the source is the same and the promises remain the same …

Psalm 34:18.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 73:26

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted

And binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 42: 3 -4

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

He will not fail nor be discouraged …

Ezekiel 11:19

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 36:26

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

serene-710391_960_720

In closing, when you stand by and watch the shipwreck that is the end of someone else’s marriage try to remember that somewhere in there, is a person trying to remember how to breathe …

I owe many, many thanks to the family and friends who were there and helped me to remember to breathe … and to the man I married years later, who has stayed and prayed and breathes with me everyday.

I have deliberately excluded details despite the fact that Anne Lamott’s words keep springing to mind…

251906-Anne-Lamott-Quote-You-own-everything-that-happened-to-you-Tell


Links to read:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-about-trauma/201503/love-is-war-post-infidelity-stress-disorder

https://www.onlyyouforever.com/post-infidelity-stress-disorder/

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