He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies …

It was my husband who spoke on this at church a few weeks ago, and it has been flitting in and out of my mind ever since. I would like it to rest in my heart. I need it to rest in my heart.

If it would rest in my heart, I know that that rest would spread out from my heart, to my mind and settle in my bones.

I headed to the doctor this week after a few really sharp, five second headaches, it turns out as far as she can tell they are tension headaches. As she said this to me I became conscious that I was clenching my teeth…again!
Find some rest,” she said.
I just stared at the poster on the wall adjacent to me and nodded. I’ve heard this before… I’ve been told it a few times now. I’ve written about it before. I’ve tried it.

I’ve tried to stop worrying about things by trying really hard not to worry – I then worry that I’m not trying hard enough .. foolish, right? I can see it!

As I drove back to school after my visit to the doctor, a couple of things she said were ringing in my ears.
1. You aren’t 20 anymore !!! (Imagine that!)
2. You need to switch off sometimes – you need to find time to rest – or you will break.

I don’t really have time to rest,” is usually the first thing that comes to my mind and then makes its way out of my mouth.
The doctor wasn’t buying that, “you have to. What do you do to relax?
That’s the next question I struggle with.
I don’t know.
You need to find out what it is and do it. Make the time to do it.
At this point in the conversation I’m worried that my transparent face is screaming, are you kidding?! Do you have any idea how busy our life is. Every week that we have three children in our home we have to get them all to do the school work they should have done the week before, and the work that needs to be done this week, and hopefully get a start on the work for the week ahead to save ourselves some time this time in a fortnight. We are the household, that frowned this week on holidays mid-term because we are the household who has to catch up on the work a kid who’s already well behind has to do.
I think she can see it all racing through my mind and she repeats herself again and then adds to it.
You aren’t twenty anymore. You can’t be skipping meals, you can’t be working and forgetting to eat, you need to rest, you need to find rest. Your body isn’t the same as it was when you were twenty or thirty .” (Ouch!! You don’t need to tell me that twice!!)

So yesterday we had a work, and worry, free day. It was great. We did some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
We bought the trampoline I promised my son I’d get him about 6 years ago…
See, I told you I’d get you a trampoline one day.
I knew you’d do it Mum! You keep your promises.

There are a few pursuits I have that I find relaxing – music and art.IMG_9405 I find it hard to make the time to do either without feeling guilty. (Something to work on.) Someone said to me this week you have to maintain all the rooms in the house. True, the artistic areas which are so much of an important part of me have been neglected in favour of the serious, more important pursuits. I’ve postponed the study for now. The time is not there.
So, I’ve been for sometime been thinking about getting a mandolin. Thinking it would be much easier to sit in a comfy chair and play a mandolin than it is to sit comfortably and play the piano. Mandolins also have the “portability” factor. I decided the guitar was off limits as we already have two very capable guitarists in the house and what family band needs three guitarists? 😉
FullSizeRender 29So, anyway, yesterday we stopped thinking about the mandolin and made it happen. I didn’t quite play till my fingers bled but I do have a tiny blister to show for it.

We had a good day. We set the trampoline up, we all had a go, and two of us, very quickly became aware that we aren’t in our twenties anymore.(!) IMG_9415

The day was a really good one … but the truth is under it all I had a little sense of dread that things were about to get a bit tricky again.

Then this morning I was thinking about what my husband spoke about “he prepares a place for me in the presence of my enemies.”

The thoughts that he brought out have popped in and out of my head in the weeks since he spoke.

The image of being in a place where no enemy, despite their obvious presence, can disturb. It’s not that they are away from my place of blessing, as I often wish they would be. They are looking on, right there – in the spot where God’s preparing a table for ME! A table for me to sit at and enjoy the abundance of His provision. It doesn’t seem that He’s in any rush here. He seems unalarmed by the presence of my enemies – He’s actually going about the business of preparing me a feast, while they look on.
What a glorious thought… as I sat and thought about it … meditated on the idea of that … I felt the rest creeping in … the rest He desires for me to experience now when I’m in presence of the shepherd with my enemies looking on.
My teeth unclenched again …
I’m not twenty anymore and I’m very thankful for that!
I’m in a place of abundance now that I wasn’t in when I was in my twenties or my thirties.

So my friends, whatever is ahead of you this week, the One who’s preparing a table for you knows about it. And He’s just preparing that table for you.
He’s not worried, He’s not hurried, He’s just making sure that the feast’s ready for you.
He knows that they are there looking on.
He’s waiting for you to sit down and enjoy the abundance of the place and position He has brought you into.

There’s more to this verse here too my friend,

You anoint my head with oil

begone aching,
begone worries,
begone tension,
begone negative thoughts.

You are in the presence of your shepherd,
He has anointed your head with oil, to heal you.

Can you and I find rest? Yes, we can.
What do you need to do in order to rest?

Stop and look around at what is in front of you,

and when you do that, you might just notice this …

my cup overflows.

 

P.S. Check out the many different translations of this verse (here) and find the rest and blessings you have, and need.

 

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The life of a high school English teacher. 

a not-so-perfect original


Week 6, term 3: I call it “adrift in a sea of drafts”. “Drowning in a sea of drafts” was a little too melodramatic even for me! 

I would have taken the time to add colour but for the fact that the time taken to add colour would, alas, prolong my time in the sea. 

Perhaps there will be colour when I reach the island. 

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Wednesdays…

Mid point of the week …
Busiest day of the week for me, a full teaching day.

This Wednesday – the plan was to leave home at 7am in order to factor in three sets of road works on the way to school.

This Wednesday – the foils to us getting to work on time are:

1. Only two of the five of us appear to be actively working toward leaving at 7am.

2. One child kicked his toe last night – naturally it’s “broken”. He’ll need a day off. “No you won’t.”

I then make some jokes about practicing kicking the soccer ball too hard.. He dissolves into tears because I’m “making fun of him”. I remember, too late, how sensitive he is – just like I was at his age. I apologise, tell him I was trying to cheer him up. He doesn’t want to be cheered up. He must now walk with his foot at a right angle to the rest of his body .. I suggest he may do more damage walking like this. To prove me correct he then kicks his toe on something else …naturally he must walk more slowly.

3. Two boys who have realized that they have left their uniforms on the clothes line over night. This means the clothes  are damp and cold. This was discovered ten minutes prior to 7am(!). Thankfully, we have a dryer.

4. The two year eight students have home ec today. Both are cooking different things. I bought the ingredients for both last night. I was under the impression they sorted it all last night before going to bed. Not quite. The bag of cheese in the fruit bowl gives this away.

5. One boy has “lost” his formal shoes for school. Walks around in circles in his now dry uniform for about 10 minutes looking for them. Doesn’t find them.

We leave home at 7:20am.
I write the thoughts above on the way to school. I feel better.

our view on the way to work

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Time for tea – time for me.

Tea cup and saucer from Servant Ceramics


Introverting on a quiet partly cloudy afternoon sitting with my thoughts and a cup of tea.  

Anne with an ‘e’ 
P.S. You can find Servant ceramics here . 

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How are you? 

I’ve been answering that question with what I thought was honesty this week.

I’m not good.

If my grandmother in heaven, was still here she’d be cheering … “Finally she’s got the message! I told her that for years!” … Sorry Grandma, but I must confess I am not yet convinced that you are as correct as you believed yourself to be. And I wonder if telling someone who has been clothed in His righteousness that they are not good, perhaps does more harm than good.? I’m pretty sure that I could argue that when God looks at me, He sees His Son and His goodness…

This week my response to “how are you?” has not been busy either – although that is true. Earlier this week my response was “grumpy”. This, my friends, is a very effective way to cut through the small talk.! If I was then asked why, the answer was, “I’m not sure”. Tiredness? Maybe?

The truth is, underneath the tiredness and the busy-ness, my heart feels ‘bad’. I could search for reasons … but that’s not going to end well. My tendency is to look inward to find reasons for the way I feel … surprisingly I find many reasons all too quickly.

Maybe that’s why we are exhorted to rejoice, be grateful and thankful more so than introspective. I think it’s also why we are encouraged to leave the judging of our hearts to the One who knows us best.

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 
‭‭I John‬ ‭3:20 ‭NKJV‬‬

So how are you? Go a chapter further into 1 John:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

‭‭I John‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So … not grumpy, not tired, and better than good!

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Patience is a virtue… 

…possess it if you can. Seldom found in women and never in a man. 

At least that was the way the proverb was repeated in our household when I was growing up. In the case of my home now- I don’t think it’s true, we need to reverse it. Although then it doesn’t have the pleasant rhyme, unless of course one  rewrites it as: always in a Scott and never in an Anne (apologies to all other Annes). 

For those of you who know, my husband several weeks ago finally committed to purchasing “the” dishwasher. It was a long process. One I’ve watched for a while – I’d rather not put a time frame on it – at the risk of losing my favourite reader. It was a while (while = months). But as we all know good things come to those who wait. 

He had been very deliberate about the process. If you are thinking about buying a dishwasher I’m pretty sure he could hook you up with the results of his research. 

We have it, it is installed, it is hooked up and as I write — it is running! 

And yes, in case you are wondering, we’ve  already had our first loading of the dishwasher disagreement! 

The cat sat on the crooked mat.

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The etiquette of toilet conversations…

So, right up front, I just want to clarify – I’m not talking about toilet humour – I’m talking about conversing while one is visiting the facilities, the amenities, the water closet, the bathroom, the toilet.

Is it just an “Anne” thing or is it more of an introvert thing that I don’t like having conversations when I am visiting said facilities, amenities, water closet, bathroom, toilet …?

I have a few etiquette related questions: if one, and an individual of one’s acquaintance, have been speaking prior to each entering their respective cubicle, is it appropriate to stop talking at that point? Or must the conversation continue? I personally would like to cease conversing at that point. But I do tend to feel rude – or a little silly as though entering the cubicle has rendered me not only invisible but also inaudible and unable to hear others. I would like to think that once confined within those four walls I am alone.

For some people however, this is not the case. Some like to continue the conversation and I’m not entirely sure what to do about that. Usually my answers become staccato. But sometimes that doesn’t discourage the conversation … What do you do?

A second scenario springs to mind:
I have in the past. entered, what I thought was, an empty toilet/bathroom area only to hear the person in another cubicle call out, “Is that you Anne?

I’m not sure what to do at that point:

  1. Do I answer in the affirmative and thus engage in a conversation about my weekend either past or future? (Maybe it’s the small talk I dislike).
  2. Do I ignore the question, and feign deafness at this point? Not terribly honest – the INFJ struggles with this.
  3. Or do I pretend I’m not Anne, though the flaw in this plan is that I must have a distinct sounding walk or a particular musky odour to be recognized by someone locked away in a cubicle. If I do answer in the negative – it is most likely that my voice will give me away – I’ve been told that it is quite distinctive. Maybe I could put on a voice – though then I may need to invent a name too..? Once again not really the most honest way to go about this.
  4. If I pretend not to be Anne and go about my business in silence; am I then required to remain in the cubicle until the other party vacates her cubicle and leaves the washroom area?
  5. If I do that, then what happens if they are waiting outside to see who the person was who didn’t answer them? Oh it is you Anne! Didn’t you hear me? 
  6. Do I then have to pretend I didn’t hear them?
  7. The final – what if .. what if her phone is on silent – it just “rang” … It’s her friend Anne and I answer assuming of course that even when at the toilet I’m the centre of the universe. At that point I’m entering a conversation in a toilet that already has enough people in it.

It is inevitable that I do eventually answer, but not before having played through all of these scenarios. I have the conversation which is fine, but honestly, if anyone can tell me about the appropriate etiquette I’d love to know what it is.

I think that parents, the world over, recognize the sanctuary of the toilet. In the past I know I’ve said “I will not answer questions about the new app you want to download – while I’m in here.” Insert joke here that references downloading and toilet time (toilet humour). At home, I quite enjoy the quiet that an ensuite affords. There I can shut the bedroom door and the bathroom door. It’s true that all too often, I spend much more time than necessary in there just for the silence and the solitude. Maybe that privilege of silence and solitude is not afforded anywhere else outside of the home.

Additionally, as I write this I realise that maybe some of my references relate more to developed countries…which once again reminds me of the privilege I’ve been born into. The fact that I have access to so many of these facilities on a daily basis is something that perhaps I should be thankful for, rather than mourning the loss of two minutes of silence.

Finally, if you do recognise my feet, footfall, musky odour, one day when you are using the facilities, the amenities, the water closet, the bathroom, the toilet; don’t be afraid to say “So … any big plans for the weekend?”  You don’t have to cease speaking mid-sentence as you suddenly remember the blog post I wrote, that you once read. If you are in the cubicle next to me … I’ll answer with my own voice, once I’ve ascertained there is no other course of action, and that you are not on the phone (yes people do this!) … my responses will be staccato… sorry but that’s the way it will be.

 

FullSizeRender 28.jpg

A not-so-perfect original 🙂

 

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8 reasons why this INFJ, HSP is moving from surviving to thriving…

  1. Information: like my fellow INFJs  (for such a rare personality type the internet seems to be filled to the brim with us)  over the past few years I’ve discovered that a lot of the things about me that I thought unusual, strange, difficult, is in part due to personality.
  2. As someone who can also be described as a HSP the reduction of social networking interactions has been similarly freeing. My daily dose of over 300 people’s lives –
    their thoughts, opinions, joys, disappointments and associated issues are no longer on my radar. This has literally reduced my feelings of responsibility, angst and anxiety overnight. It’s not that I don’t care to hear from and about my friends – I just think there are better ways to do it.
  3. We “rescued” a kitten. I’ve never had a cat before …However the more I’ve read about introverts, the more I’ve read about cats …

    As a “dog person” I’ve resisted the very idea of a cat. I was, until almost two weeks ago, unprepared to concede that there was a connection between cats and introverts. My belief was, I’m an introvert who doesn’t even like cats. I think this remains true, I don’t like cats in general –

    IMG_8797.JPG

    The new addition

    however our new family member has proved to be quite a favourite of mine already .. I think that this article might go a way towards explaining it.  I thought she might be good for the kids – turns out she’s been incredibly good for me.

  4. I discovered the value of a restorative niche (you can find out about the restorative niche here, or here, or here) — Today was our first day back at work after two, beautifully quiet, weeks of restoration. Term three kicked off with day one of a two day conference. Day one was attended by approximately 2000 delegates. I’m going to be honest, the following things were literally a Godsend for me.
    IMG_8830 2.JPG

    The overflow venue – outdoors.

    a. The overflow area outside … created due to the large numbers in the auditorium.                                                  b. The fact that our school hosted the event. This meant I was “at home”.                                                                        c. The fact that I do have the pleasure of working with my love, and some really great friends.                                    d. My “restorative niche” at work is my husband’s staffroom … Being an introvert and a school teacher means some days can be quite taxing.IMG_8831.PNG I also work in a fairly open plan staffroom which means quiet time is often minimal. I often head to his smaller, quieter staffroom to recharge. Today, I was able to retire to there after each session – we lunched there – talked through some big ideas.

  5. I happily carve out that restorative time now, without feeling guilty about it. My thoughts are you can have the me who will vanish from time to time or the one who gets over stimulated, over stressed and eventually reaches breaking point at the end of June each year. It didn’t happen this year.
  6. At home I am having my own introverted space created for me. (Thanks to a few.)
    FullSizeRender 24.jpg

    A work in progress – well on the way.

    An actual retreat in the form of a studio for all things art related – a “me”zone. That still sounds a little too selfish for my own liking – I am doing my best to get used to the idea.

  7. I have continued to become more aware that the people around me are not like me or each other. And while a few of them are INFJs – even they are slightly different. And being different does not mean they are always wrong … Though honestly sometimes they are.. But that’s okay – and I need to be okay with that – not every disagreement needs to be a fight to the death. Music to my E/ISFP husband’s ears.
  8. Knowing who I am in Christ actually supersedes all of the above, that should not ever be underestimated. Recognising that all of the things have helped to restore and move from surviving, are from His hand.

 

Finally tonight; Quiet , if you haven’t read it, you must.

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Because joy always returns…

Homemade cupcakes … made with the assistance of one happy helper. 🙂 

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Bless this nest…

Today was one of our best …

One of the three was baptised.

Today was also briefly one of our worst …

Two chose not to come to the five baptisms held at our church today. Two arrived back bringing with them moods of black, shades of misery. They were given a choice stay here or return to their other home. They chose. They were sorely disappointed … again.

As I attempted to write, I shook, but the adrenaline rush has died down.

Why … because the man who was one who baptised my son today, has just been abused yet again for attempting to make his children’ voice heard; he’s attempted to grant a request that was going to cost him. He has once again showed them what a sacrificial parent looks like and he has been abused for it. The man who has been the best father these two could ever know, the man who is the best father my son has known, the man who spoke today in church about the stubbornness and stupidity of sheep has just been lectured and abused by two.

My husband, the best man I know, a man who daily becomes more Christlike was being abused by an individual whose defence mechanism is to swear, abuse and threaten violence.

If we could, we would shake this dust off – unfortunately we can’t. If we could remove these thorns in our flesh we would – unfortunately we can’t.

Instead, we find ourselves holding onto the Rock as we are buffeted, beaten and bruised.

I’m not sure if you have some comprehension of what it must be like for these two whose voices are, once again heard, yet ignored. I know I don’t – it’s not something I’ve ever experienced. We’ve all experienced rejection at some point in our lives… not too many of us have had to experience it like this.

Our prayer for these two, all three of ours actually, each day is that they will come to a true and lasting knowledge of the Heavenly Father as their own; the Parent whose love is utterly sacrificial, the One who gave His most precious possession for them, the One who loves like no other, the One who is Faithful, the One whose word is True, the One who keeps His promises, the One who IS Love, the One who brings Peace, the One who is Life, the One who is Light, the One who is all in all, the One whose desire for them is Freedom.

How wonderful it is to have a Father who loves us, a Father who waits to welcome us home. How amazing that these two, witness this fortnightly.

The storm has passed.

We’ve cried together, we’ve clung together.

Our hearts have broken a little with theirs.

We aim to be a home where God’s grace, His mercy and His love softens us, makes us malleable, a home that houses sometimes broken hearts, a home of second, third and fourth chances. These things do not come easy.

We are a home where there resides a generous man who models Christ for us all daily. A man with a heart the size of our home – who loves us all.

Let us never forget that those we live with and interact with are eternal beings.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

C.S Lewis

These two are eternal souls.
They are peaceful again now.
They are happy again.
They know they are loved.
They are resting again.
But …
They need Him.
We all need Him.

We are once again reminded of the words of Ann Voskamp:

Bless this nest, Lord,

of fragile things,

encircling the breakable and broken

in grace,

in the ever warmth of Your wing,

in the sheltering shadow of Your face,

us the clinging ones,

You our clutch of hope,

singing to us the song

of home.

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