Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Life on the tracks...


It's a well used metaphor, "the journey of life"... the idea that we are all travelling along, subject to the whims and winds of the road. Sometimes driving with cautious care, sometimes with relaxed enjoyment, sometimes with erratic recklessness and sometimes in lostness and confusion. It can feel a little scary... the uncertainty of not knowing what is ahead... of not knowing what is oncoming, of not trusting ourselves in the drivers seat, or of not trusting the other drivers around us.

Life can feel scary that way.


Last Wednesday, we took the kids on a trip on the Steam train for my Father-in-laws birthday. Steam trains are just like any other journey in many ways... the varying speed, the quiet chugging through glorious open countryside, the loud clatter through dark tunnels... they take you through all sorts of twists and turns, ups and downs, over bridges, through tunnels, high speed and slow motion.

And yet there's one significant difference when you're on a train.

You're on a track.

That means you have a destination, a direction, and an earthing.



And in many ways, as I've been reflecting, I've realised that is what journeying life as a christian is like. There are high days and low days, good days and bad days, days of flying through glorious freedom, and days of racketing through dark tunnels. And yet all the while, we have a destination, a direction, an earthing.





The ups and downs and ins and outs don't have to feel scary, because they are earthed in the sovereignty of God. Just like that train follows its tracks, we  can trust that life is following the tracks that God has laid out for us. And that brings an incredible peace and assurance when things feel a little rocky, or the tunnel feels neverending. The train won't de-rail. It might traverse through some pretty rough terrain, it might head underground for a while. But its held firm to those rails and won't leave them.


That assurance has been particularly precious to us in the past week or so. Knowing that we are held firm when old memories are stirred, and question marks hover again...

That we are never left to career off course... but always held tight, whatever the terrain, whoever the company, wherever we find ourselves.

Life on the tracks.





Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Late Winter Favourites // Book Worm Central



I guess it was inevitable that with me as their mother, our children were always going to be readers. From the youngest age, I have always had an insatiable desire for good stories, and sharing my favourites with our children has been one of the greatest delights of motherhood.

There are just some classics; some stories tied up with my own childhood, that I have truly cherished sharing.

For me, stories are seasonal... does anyone else feel like that? There are certain stories that belong to certain times and places. Perhaps a story is linked to a specific event or tradition, or is one that is tightly bound up in an era of life. There are Christmas books, full of cosy festive tales, springtime books full of hope and promise... summer books full of sunshine and holiday memories, and autumn books of hunkering down and breathing in the natural world.

And then there is this little gap. This post Christmas extension of winter. So I thought I'd share my favourite stories for this time of year with you all... there are a great wealth of books I could have labelled here... but these four are books which have stood the test of time... which both I, and the children, have adored for their quaint tales, lovable characters and wonderful storylines. Just a little shout out for our geniune favourites! Links to buy them are at the bottom of the post!

WHITE BEAR'S SECRET
By Martine Beck


This copy was my own copy growing up... and oh, how much I loved this story! The simple tale of two bears living in the alps who's home is destroyed by an avalanche, and how they set up building their home again, with a little unexpected addition! It is a beautiful, heartwarming story of family, of neighbourly love, and of the excitement of preparing for a new life. And the illustrations?! Stunning!

BRAMBLY HEDGE: WINTER'S TALE
By Jill Barklem


The illustrations in the Brambly Hedge series are something else... my sister actually gifted the girls a framed copy of one of the illustrations for their bedroom. They are so detailed and beautiful and quaint! Little mice living in tree stumps and getting up to all sorts of adventures! The Winter Story is one of ice palaces and excitement and endless amounts of snow... if you haven't come across it - its a keeper!

LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS
Laura Ingalls Wilder


Although this story (the first in the Little House series) covers a length of time, this story in particular is synonymous with winter for me. Woodland snow fall, winter scenes, sleigh rides... It's got it all! The Little House series is a firm favourite with our girls and has been the source of much imaginative play over the years. These are books we return to time and time again!

CHILDREN OF THE NORTHLIGHTS
Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire


Anything by the D'Aulaire's is beautiful, whimsical, stunning and totally captures the imagination. Focussing on historical cultures... these books are truly delightful, and even as an adult, each page brings me so much joy. Gorgeously detailed illustrations, wonderfully simplistic storytelling and a beautiful insight into other cultures and eras. Of all their books, I think "Children of the Northlights" is our favourite!

***

This list is by no means exhaustive... and yet these are the stories that have truly captured the children's imaginations, and therefore are the ones I thought worthy of sharing! If you're after some seasonal reads, look no further!


Books can be ordered here... (click on the image)






This post contains affiliate links

Monday, 19 February 2018

All His Anyway // Thoughts for a Monday Morning...


"The raising of children, the teaching of truth, the sharing of life, the nourishing of imagination, and the cultivating of wisdom: These are all His anyway; we are merely his servants"
Sarah MacKenzie, Teaching From Rest

Sunday, 18 February 2018

He Will Hold Me Fast... // Words to Cling to

We sang this song at Church this morning. Beautiful words. Healing words.

So very, very thankful that in the midst of our struggles, he holds us fast.

Thank you so much for all your kind words, prayers and messages. You cannot know how much they have strengthened and encouraged me these past few days.

God is always, always good.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Broken Hearts and Healing Hearts // A Difficult Day

                           

I don't suppose yesterday was ever going to be easy... but in the busyness of half term chaos, and the energy we put in to preparing Heidi for her CT scan, I totally neglected to prepare myself. 

I write this with tear-stained cheeks and an emotionally battered heart. 

Today was not an easy day in the school of motherhood.

Somewhere in the midst of today, all the old memories came flooding back. As we approached the Ward, I realised we hadn't been back to this part of the hospital since Heidi's traumatic illness back in 2013. Outpatients has been the place of hope, of good news, of progress. The inpatient Ward was the place of devastation, of heartbreak... of the news that turned our world upside down. We wandered up the corridors, Heidi oblivious to the long forgotten memories that came racing back to us... and we pointed out the sights; the chapel I had gone to pray in, the bay where we received the news, the cot that was her bed for that dark, dark week.

This was a place of so much heartache... And yet here was the place I had known the sweet presence of Christ unlike anywhere else. To be back was a flood of mixed up emotions.

Because this time there was a difference. We *are* in a very different place now... Heidi's arteries are in recovery, we are off medication, and day to day life, for the most part, has, in time, stepped out of the shadow of Kawasaki disease.

                                              

It was a simple cannula... yet I, of all people know, how agonisingly painful a badly positioned cannula can be. We had prepped Heidi as best we could and she was ready. She took that first cannula entry like a trooper. I could feel her little warm body tensing against mine as she read the story with the play specialist, but she stayed strong... and brave. But then her vein popped.

Round two. Fail. Round three. Fail. Round four. Fail.

There is nothing so horrendous as having your child beg you to make them stop, and not be able to.

I felt like my heart was ripped to shreds watching those pleading eyes and listening to those sobs. 

We took a break. We were offered the option of coming back another day, but there was no way I was going to put my little girl through this again... I knew it'd be a miracle if we even got her to the hospital! So we went to the play room. I queued for her lunch, she sat in the sensory room looking white as a sheet, her eyes downcast, clutching a sensory light cable with her sore little hand. It nearly broke my heart. She was trying to be so strong. So brave. Such a trooper. And everything in me just wanted to whip her up, whisk her home and tell her I'd never let anyone hurt her again.

We wandered back to our ward with chicken nuggets and chips in hand, and had a leisurely lunch. The whole time we held a warm glove to her hand, seeking every means possible to dilate those teeny little veins of hers. We popped to the toilets and she looked at me knowingly...

'They want to do it again, don't they mama?"

I nodded, saying I was sorry and we prayed aloud, and together we asked the Lord to let this next one be a success. It felt like a risky prayer, my little girl putting her young faith on the line...  but we thanked Jesus for being with us and asked him for this next cannula...

He never fails. Ever. And she was incredible. She breathed deep and nestled her body deep into mine as the cries intensified.

But there was victory. It was in. We breathed deep on relief... and thanked the Lord!

There was a little waiting before the CT itself... we took Heidi's class bear everywhere with us, and he was scanned, prodded and poked before Heidi every time. The scan was quick and Heidi was well prepared. She knew exactly what she was doing!

                                    

The flush was uncomfortable, but Heidi never flinched. She lay there so patiently. I couldn't have been more proud.

We wait now for results. For Heidi the ordeal is already over, she rocked into bed with the biggest smile on her face and after all the treats and bribery (!!) from today, went to bed a very happy little girl.

Once she went to bed, the emotions of the day hit me. Hard.

I always get hit when I least expect it. Today was a reminder that though Kawasaki is a thing of the past, it's shadow ever lingers. Five years in, this year, I still get hit by the anxieties of every mother who has a sick child. 

But amidst all the heartache and the anxieties, and the constantly repeating need to cast all my cares upon the Lord because he cares for me, there are always some glimmers of hope or happiness in the hard bits. As we left the Brompton yesterdayafternoon, with huge relief, Heidi announced confidently...

'I like CT scans... can we do it again??'

As Dave and I tried to pick our jaws up off the ground, Heidi piped up again...

"Except not the cannula, and not the tunnel"

It seems Heidi had a grand day waiting for procedures... playing with the toys on her hospital bed, and would quite like to repeat the experience tomorrow please!

It's alright Heidi. I'm not sure your Mamas heart would hack it!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and messages. Our Heidi was incredible... 

And the Lord, ever faithful... In the hardest moments and in the victories.

Please continue to remember us in your prayers. X

Friday, 16 February 2018

Heidi's Heart // An Update


Please pray for us today.

Heidi has an important CT scan up in London to check the state of her heart since she came off her medication in September.

It will involve a cannula, going under a tunnel, and not being allowed to move for a significant length of time (for a four-year-old anyway).

We would appreciate your prayers that Heidi would be calm and peaceful, that the scan would be straightforward and they would not have to sedate her. For trust for David and I. And for wisdom for the Doctors.

We are very glad to be taking Ben the Bear with us (Heidi's class bear).

But far more thankful to know the presence of the Saviour who walks with us through all the uncertainties of life.

We are so far from those dark days of 2013, but today I can feel all the memories, the old anxieties threatening to surface.

Pray we will trust. And cling to the hope of Christ.

And be ever thankful for a God who cares. Who loves. Who sacrificed. And who loves this precious girl of ours far more than we ever could.

Thank you.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Our Elias Boy // Ten Months Old


Elias, after such a hard little start, you have truly filled these past ten months with nothing but joy. You love life... you thrive on company and are the most sociable little soul, jabbering away in your own little language with the odd "Ba-ba" (Papa?) and "Ma-ma" thrown in for good measure. You are a little joker, and already understand the concept of messing around to make us laugh. When we ask you to say Mama, you silently mouth it, and giggle away to yourself.

Such a little monkey already.