I made jam!

idolise me! (Joke, really, joke…)

 

I did though! really!

It’s Friday and time for a thankful post. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about being thankful and challenging the opposite of this, which I think often takes the form of bitterness and resentment. I feel that the scripture about looking at whatever is excellent, has been given me and it keeps coming up in my thoughts. I said before, I think it was in my ode to Chris, that God tells us to look for the excellence and anything worthy of praise.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I also think of this verse a lot at the moment:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

This is in Phillipians 2, and it says directly before this that ‘it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure’.

So, I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me in this, well lead me really.

The verse I’ve quoted before out of John in which Jesus says “I do not give as the world gives…” is a favourite of mine.

I get angry and frustrated because we live in such a beautiful place, but life can be so confusing. We laugh at purity and goodness, relegate relationships, justify behaviour in any way we can and put others down because of our own selfish motives. Jesus knows and sees all of this and still says “I love you, invite me in…” and you know what? he then changes us.

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The world has us believe many things and puts many burdens on us. Jesus takes our burdens from us and gives us peace and freedom. “should we choose to accept it…”

I may be wrong but I think most of us want true love and true acceptance and true peace and the only, the only! place this is found is in Jesus Christ.

Ask him.

Today, I am thankful.

 

 

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are?

That is one of my favourite ever nursery rhymes and it is now my sons favourite too. I don’t know much about the planets or stars if I’m honest but I have always just loved the sky, the clouds, the colours, day time sky, night time sky, stars, the moon…. especially the stars….  God determines the number of stars and gives them their names (psalm 147:4).

photography of starry sky
Photo by Free Nature Stock on Pexels.com

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

Isn’t that beautiful.

I can remember standing at our back door, probably in the months before I was saved ten years ago, drinking copious amounts of vodka and coke and smoking, looking up at the sky and repeating the rhyme

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.

 

Almost feverishly, over and over

and wishing desperately for all sorts of things, to know love, to meet someone, to be loved, especially to be loved. for life to be made right…. I can remember crying out saying that’s all I want, to be loved….

I can remember repeating it over and over and crying, (in a little bit of a drunken haze, but in genuine spiritual pain), looking up at the stars and crying out to God without even realising it. I needed him and I was asking for help.

And He gave it.

The heaven’s declare…

Regarding our house sale, the builder fella came around yesterday to check what needs doing damp proofing wise, he was really friendly and seemed realistic and honest.  So we’re waiting to hear that all is well and our sale is going through.

Not heard anything on the croft since we heard our offer had been accepted in principle, I’ll feel a lot happier once the advert actually goes under offer though. I contacted them  again yesterday to find out what happens next. Whether it officially goes under offer at some point or whether it is because it has been accepted. It is the in principle bit I’m not sure about.

I’m really, really enjoying life on the allotment at the moment, there are turnips growing, sprouts, cabbages (only a few because they got eaten even though they are netted), runner beans flowering, summer and winter squash growing, courgettes, sweetcorn plants, onions, spinach, a few beetroot, lettuce and spring onions. One reason I’m really enjoying it is it seems it is the first year since we got the allotment that I’ve really been able to make a difference and do a lot of the work. It’s because I was pregnant with our toddler when we first got it and since then had the old post natal depression/anxiety /lack of get up and go and then another baby. Life has been busy! But busy is not necessarily bad and now the two boys generally play for a while whilst I do some work. I also LOVE going on with them, being outside is good, for them and for me and our relationship.

The little one has now started bum shuffling (he has got quite fast) and I leave him in one place and look up and he’s in a veg bed with something interesting like mud held between his finger and thumb, on it’s way to his mouth, like the finest delicacy.  Mr toddler is also starting to take an interest in the names of plants and of taking care of the beds and doing things like hoeing etc. I just have to watch he doesn’t dig my plants up. It’s brilliant this year because we never actually got round to planting any potatoes so he has basically got his own patch to play on/dig up/roll around in/learn to garden/whatever he likes.  He has been loving it.

 

We still have our four hens on the allotment too, they’re about 14 months old now, only three are laying at the moment, but one does look like it has been going through a moult, so maybe she will start again. We are going to need to rehome them very soon (it looks like we have found a home for them). I love having chickens, but I think it would be a bit much to take them 700 ish miles with us.

 

We can’t wait to get moved and start getting set up, I love the thought of getting our new chickens there, we will be able to have a rooster too! (we can’t where we are at the moment) and maybe ducks and sheep to start with. We are planning on putting chickens on the vegetable garden to clear it over autumn/winter (depending when we get there) and then sorting that out next year. It is walled but the wall has disappeared under grass, so hopefully we can get the wall uncovered and the house will have a walled garden again.

We have a dream/wish list in relation to the croft, one of which is a large polycrub in which we would be able to grow just about any veg/fruit/flowers we want. The problem in Shetland as far as I am aware is the wind and so a polycrub would be ideal. The only thing is the cost of the polycrub, we are praying that we will be able to get one.

We are also planning/wanting to plant some trees which should be suitable for the area, we have been researching a little on what would be the best options for the area – some of the suitable trees are downy birch and hazel and we should hopefully be able to use these somewhere on the croft as a wind break/shelter as well as having the joy of actually having trees there. There aren’t many on Shetland from what I have heard.  I have seen this week that the woodland trust sell landowner packs of trees and there is a pack called wild wood tree pack which looks ideal, even more so because the ones that are out of stock are not ones we wanted and the ones they are offering are the ones we wanted. So getting and planting these would be so good to do. It’s good that Chris and I are so on the same page with this really, we love planning this sort of thing, the gardens, the land, the trees.

When Jesus was first making himself obvious to me, I had been asking him whether he was real because I was desperate and did not know where to go with my life, I felt like I had no hope. I suppose everything had been made clear to me that “things” and even people just don’t cut it and hiding yourself in things like drinking don’t really work. I can remember driving into the countryside, specifically from Chesterfield into Ashover and praying the Lord’s prayer because it was all I knew regarding prayer really and begging Him that if he really was there to help me and I looked around and the fields and trees and skies had suddenly become brighter and just spectacular, it was in technicolour. So one of the ways he showed me himself was via the outdoors. It was just awesome.

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The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork (Ps 19:1).

I’ve seen some interesting news in the last few weeks as well, Shetland is going to be homing some Syrian refugees, I feel really excited about this, we are still involved with the world! we are not cut off! I have to admit I have been wondering what sort of stuff we will be doing there and dreaming of what God may have for us to do. Dreaming is good, dreams can become reality, especially when you pray them, especially if it is actually God giving you those dreams…

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

I love this prayer. When you actually look at the words and what they mean, it is just brilliant.

(I don’t generally do the whole olde speak thy/thou thing, but I do with this prayer, because it is how I learnt it when I was young, and I like it. But you don’t have to, you can talk to God however you are comfortable, he loves you to talk to him).

See ya!

Sheep, Spinning and Jesus

On Saturday we went to Ashbourne sheep fair, on the recommendation of a friend.  It was brilliant.  They had all different breeds of sheep, brief talks about them, loads of wool at all stages of processing and quite a few people there with spinning wheels, spinning the wool.  They were so friendly and helpful, I saw one lady had a drop spindle which is what I bought recently and exclaimed “a drop spindle, I’ve just bought one and don’t have a clue what to do with it!”, she then showed me and also showed me how to use her spinning wheel and how to tease the wool out. She also advised on the type of spinning wheel to get if we were going to be serious about spinning our own wool. I’m not kidding, the ladies that were doing it were so good at it and it just looked so relaxing. One of them said she sometimes nearly falls asleep whilst she is doing it. Another spinner also talked to me about the best types of wool to use and what not to use to start with (apparently Merino is a difficult one). I so enjoyed it and meeting them. There were a couple there with their Shetland sheep (they don’t live in Shetland) and we spoke to them. We don’t have to have Shetland sheep because we are going to live on Shetland, but they do look ideal, they’re fairly small, they lamb easily, have plenty of milk for their lambs, seem fairly tough and apparently are easy to handle and are nice natured. They are also not prone to foot problems. Their wool is good to work with and according to the people we spoke to they are self shedding which may mean they don’t need shearing, but we need to look into that a bit more. There was another called a Ryeland, which we also quite fancied (as in to keep on the croft to eat the grass and for wool)  it looks a bit like a teddy bear and has good wool for spinning.

focus photo of brown sheep under blue sky
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,  is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30)

Jesus is talking about us and himself in the above writing, I love this passage, it sums up the gospel really, if we know Jesus and put him in charge of our lives, he knows us intimately and we are safe because we have eternal life with him, he is in charge and we are with him and trust him. Nothing and nobody can change this fact, including ourselves. It also says that Jesus is God, which is confusing sometimes, but he is, he came to earth fully man and fully God, put himself at the mercy of humans as a baby and then lived with his family growing up and experiencing all human life, even though he is God. That is quite remarkable. It’s like a king deciding to become part of a normal family but not telling them who he is, just being there with no pride, no thoughts that he is better than anyone else, just being and growing and learning and then starting his ministry in his thirties where he proclaimed the kingdom of God, saved, delivered and healed all who came to him. Well, it is a king doing that actually, the King of Kings!

Jesus ought to be the ultimate feminist icon really, he hung out with, spoke to, healed and forgave women at a time when they were classed as pretty lowly. I love the story of a woman caught in adultery, I’ve always identified quite strongly with this particular story. The Jewish religious people brought a woman to Jesus who they said had been caught in the act of adultery. According to the law, they could stone her, Jesus just seemed to keep really calm and said: let him who is without sin cast the first stone. He was the only one without sin and could have condemned her, stoned her, given them permission to stone her, but he did not – He said:

Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Amen….

Not much to tell, but hello from Orkney!

Hi! The update on the moving front is that the survey was done on our house last Friday, we don’t know what it says yet but hopefully nothing major. We also asked our solicitor to put an offer in on the house we are interested in on Shetland, but haven’t heard back yet!! It is painful, we have heard nothing. So we are praying that we hear something soon.

We’re now on holiday on Orkney. It is beautiful, it is not nearly as hot as England and there is generally a breeze even when it is warm. Which suits me! The boys are loving it, the three year old has been able to run free around the cottage and on the beach. Chris has done some videos with his drone, click on the link to view one, it’s really good and shows what it is like where we are staying: first flight

IMG_5390This is where we are staying. It’s pretty special.

It is so quiet here, I’m loving the quietness. You go outside and just hear the birds, the sea and sometimes a tractor. You can almost hear the silence when you’re outside. That is something I really needed. God is good.

IMG_5406

Gifts…!!!

Today has been a good day. We went to Derby on the train, this was the first time our three year old has been on a train! He loved it, and he behaved so well. He was funny, talking all the way there, asking questions, looking out of the window. We’ve spent most of the day with our family, celebrating family, it’s been lovely.

image

Chris was in Shetland today! He also had a good day, he loves the Croft and Shetland and so things look good so far. He’s coming home tomorrow, I’m looking forward to seeing him. I’ve missed him.

Feels a little odd writing about the process at this stage, very vulnerable, because we want to put an offer in, but there may be other people interested too, so we may not get it. So we’re excited but also don’t want to get too excited in case we don’t get it and then we’ll be disappointed and it will be public! But I also think hiding it is a waste of time because why waste time pretending we’re not excited, when we are!!! We would love to live there. More and more I keep thinking, we just waste so much time being frightened of being disappointed, frightened of looking too into things/people, frightened of what we look like, just wanting to keep up appearances. Instead of being open, vulnerable and honest. I think it keeps us from rejoicing, because we’re scared to.

There is a part in the bible that says to rejoice when others rejoice, weep when others weep… (Romans 12:15), to me this summons up a picture of honesty, of being there for others, of taking life to the full, of admitting joy and disappointment and grief and being genuine. Whilst still having that deep, underlying joy because of Christ’s life, sacrifice and resurrection and the Holy Spirit within you. The joy of knowing him whether life is great or whether it has turned to rubbish.

This brings me onto what I believe God has been speaking to me about recently. Today, I have been hearing the word, gift, gift, gift, gift, gift, over and over again and have been talking to God about it. I believe this is in relation to life and what happens but most importantly to the people in my life. Before and even since becoming a Christian I have struggled with the thought of losing my family, of losing those close to me, I’ve imagined things so clearly at times, that it has felt as though it is real. I’ve imagined them suffering and my heart feels as though it will explode from grief, I’ve imagined them dying and the grief again briefly feels overwhelming, but then I’ve usually managed to stop that thought process. The thought of them suffering or even of something happening to me and of leaving them, of leaving my family on their own has occasionally been overwhelming (even though it is from my imagination). I am also aware that there may be people who are reading this who have actually lost those close to them or who are facing life threatening situations and my heart goes out to you.

So I believe what God is saying and what he is changing in me, is that he is changing my perspective. These people, my family, my children, my parents, my friends on this earth, even my own life – are not mine. They are His. These lives are gifts, from Him, they are not mine to cling on to. They are given because he loves us but also for unknown, higher purposes than those of which we are aware and I am to love and celebrate them, to mind and look after and nurture them and just do life with them and probably much more. These relationships in my life, although real and good and given for a purpose are not the end, and they are not permanent. One day, we are all going to die, we don’t know when, but there are hard questions to examine. What happens next? What is my life for?

These gifts of people, they are gifts, amazing gifts and should be celebrated (and grieved for)! But they are not what life is about. They are gifts to celebrate and one day give back. This may seem a bit macabre to some people, (and please remember I am not a theologian either) but it’s not macabre, it is freeing and releasing. This life and when it ends is not within my control and whenever and however it ends or whatever happens, God is good, He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

God does not change, he loves us no matter what, every good and perfect gift comes from him. He is that perfect parent that we all strive to be or want, but don’t ordinarily get. The only way is through Jesus.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).

I’ve just included the above writing because I just love the way it describes Jesus. It sends shivers down my spine. He upholds the universe by the word of his power….

I’m a bit of an external processor, doncha know…

Egg…

Interesting fact – Egg was our youngest’s first word. It sounded like egg anyway.

food eggs
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

So, Chris and his dad are on their way to Shetland, the survey on our house is now happening on Monday, and I’m at home watching sooty with the two boys. It’s all happening! The boat journey will hopefully go ahead (it’s rather windy). It’s on schedule so far, and Chris will go and see if the croft is the right place for us. I don’t know if people realise this, but we’ve never actually been to Shetland, this is Chris’s first time and I’ve never been. So, reckless  move or a leap of faith? I’m inclined to think faith, although I can be reckless. I think God requires us to jump when he asks us and this may appear reckless to others.

We discussed what this visit was mainly about and came to the conclusion that the main reason for the visit and viewing was to get the feel of the place, could we live there as a family? could Chris take his family there? is it right? So yes, we are hoping the croft house is intact and not leaking etc but also, is it right, could we live there? What is God saying about it? and I fully trust Chris that if he comes back and says no, it’s not right, then it’s not and if he says yes, it is right, I trust him on that too. We’ve been praying together and separately about it and although we would love this place, if it is not where God wants us, there will be somewhere else to go.  This talk about listening to what God is saying might sound weird if you don’t know Him, but he does talk to us. Being a Christian is a real relationship between yourself and God, it is not following a set of rules, but knowing Jesus.

Life is an adventure and we intend to live it as one. Whether we’re in Derbyshire or Scotland or anywhere else, in a house with a garden or in a house with a croft, or even if we’re ever without a house. It’s a bit of a cliche but I felt like God spoke to me ages ago about blooming where you’re planted. It was when I was feeling dissatisfied with being in Chesterfield and wanted to be in Matlock or the surrounding area. It was a bit of a check for me about being where you are because that’s where God’s put you and things aren’t going to get better just because you go somewhere else. And God was right, as He always is.

This is exciting though, I feel on tenterhooks, is this place right or is it wrong?

Meanwhile I’m at home and I need to go and check on the chickens and get the eggs in a bit, then we need to take the dog out. He ate a sock yesterday, so he’s been a bit off it, it has exited his body though..not going into any details. It was gross and sort of amazing. It was the shape of his bowel…

 

It’s Monday!!!

 

 

The start of a new week.  The above pictures are just some of the searches we’ve done in relation to moving. It makes me chuckle because I never think of myself as being someone who needs to know every little detail but I’ve recently discovered that I do usually plan and know most of the information when we’re going anywhere, or doing anything. I just didn’t realise it. I usually have a notebook for whatever it is, for example our trip to Orkney, with every address written, all the money we should need added up and listed, all the timings written in order, all tickets printed out and folded up, lists of what we need to take, etc etc. All I have to do is get the old notebook out. I love notebooks. ..And pens. ..And diaries… And calendars…  Stationery in general really.

All this makes me really glad  I have Jesus, because it means I don’t actually have to know every little and last detail in life when I have Him. This week is exciting and I’m getting a real wow type, buzzy, expectant feel about the move now, but without Jesus this would just be a stressy, man made trip, full of worry because I’d have to worry about everything myself and would feel like I or we would have to make it work ourselves. Because we  know Jesus, we can trust the detail to him! And that is a huge relief. Also, it means, wherever we end up, even if it is not where we planned, it will be good.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

That is Jesus speaking, written in Matthew 11-28-30. Isn’t what he’s saying beautiful? And it is also true.

Countdown to the Shetland viewing is on! Wahoo.