And…We have some space!

Since lockdown and Chris being off work, there’s been some ‘right work’ (Derbyshire speak) done on the house. The bathroom and dining room are now painted and just about sorted and are fully useable, the table and all the clutter have (almost) been removed from the living room and put into the dining room and we have space! We also have the stereo up and running in the living room and can play music (that’s not YouTube), the first time in about a year I think. Chris has worked and worked on those two rooms over the past couple of weeks and it’s really paid off. To have that space after a long time living in the one room most of the time is just so good. The bath is back in too, the plastic plaster bath has been relegated to the barn, yes! The taps aren’t plumbed in yet because Chris hasn’t got the parts, but we can use it if we fill it up with an attachment from the sink. Still got a lot of clutter to sort, but it’s definitely better!

They’re not the best pictures, but if you’ve seen the rooms before, it’s quite a difference.

It was such a job whilst we were moving everything around and back to where it should be, for a while it seemed we had less space and more clutter, and we were definitely getting on each other’s nerves. But most of it’s done, for now, anyway. We still need to get curtain rails, lamp shades, pictures etc up, but it’s like a palace compared to before. It feels sooooooo nice.

While Chris has been doing the inside, I’ve been doing the outside, well, the front garden. I’ve been uncovering the edging stones, putting some of them back in place, digging out the little stones that cover the drainage pipe, leaving them on the path to dry out and clean off and then replacing them. It’s been a labour, but I’ve really enjoyed it. The weather’s been good, the kids have been playing out, I’ve had worship on and been on my knees sorting stones and weeding. The right side, looking out from the house has been done, I just need to do the left now! We’ve also been planting some flower seeds to eventually plant in the front garden. Germinating them gradually, in the windows, as the greenhouse isn’t ready yet.

Chris says the greenhouse is his next job, he needs to do some work and some welding to get it sorted. He also went off with the tractor to get a great big pile of poo that a neighbour who has cows said we could have. That’ll sit and rot for about a year, then we’ll use it in the green house.

I’ll leave you with that then.. Til the next time…..

Cathy.

Happy Easter.

I want to say hi today, hello! On this day when we celebrate the one my heart longs for, the one named Jesus, who was brought back from the dead and defeated death and sin forever. If you don’t know God, ask Him if He’s there, search for him, seek Him (Matthew 7:7). Even if you don’t know it, you need Him. Through Him is the only way you can be the person you were made to be, without the layers, without the hardness, without the sin and the shame and the guilt and the regrets, just you, with Him.

If you are grieving for any reason at the moment, I’m thinking about you and praying for you. In my opinion grief can be the most horrific pain imaginable and there are people who have lost a lot more than myself. God knows of and has experienced your pain and he cares, more than you can possibly imagine. He can be there with you through it.

There’s a lot of reasons for grief, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death as well as life over the past year or so. Dad died, then there were a couple of other incidents that really got me talking to God and thinking. Thinking about what I want my life to look like, what it should look like, what is important? Why am I here? What does God want for me? Is he really there? What does He want me/us to do? But also, how extremely, horrifically sad it is when you don’t know where someone is when they’ve died.

For example, someone I used to work with died, a former colleague kindly let me know. I was her boss, the nurse in charge of the team, so that got me thinking about how I’d treated her? Did I treat her well? Did I fuss about things that just didn’t matter? Did I show her love? The answer is probably far more than I realise, but the answer I’m aware of is; not always, no. So off I went to God asking Him to help me love people more, to make me more like Jesus, then all this virus stuff happened and made me think even more, then I read a book about near death experiences and it was just so good to read about people’s experiences. Experiences of God asking ‘what did you do with the life I gave you?’, giving them their life journey flashback so to speak, God asking ‘how have you loved those I’ve given you?’ Images of heaven, a real glimpse into what we call the afterlife, but what I suspect is actually our real lives, the place we will be in for far longer than this world, the place my heart actually longs for, where we will actually be in the presence of God all the time, where his light will light everywhere, where there is no more pain, or death, or sin, where he wipes away every tear (this is in Revelation 21). Where we are free, just free, to be us.

This however only comes through us accepting God through Jesus as our saviour and Lord of our life. This may sound harsh or like an unjust condition, but it isn’t. God gave and gives us all life, every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17), Jesus actually sustains all things.

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).

The thing is, we have all gone wrong and He knows that, that’s why Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary. He changes everything once we come to Him, we can’t change through rules, but we can and do change through His love and sacrifice.

God loves you, he really, really, loves you, he hates sin but He loves you. I used to think I didn’t believe in God, but I did, I was just really, really, upset and angry at him, unjustly, I have to say, but I was and He can take that, tell Him how you feel and take it from there.

Sorry if anyone feels this is lacking anything, I just write from my heart, the heart that God changed. I’m becoming more and more aware of how much I just do not know about God and His ways, but what I do know a little of is God’s love and it is perfect, lacking in nothing. The best is yet to come, should you choose to accept this mission…

Goodbye for now.

Cathy

My Foot.

Hello people who read this and some who don’t but just see the opening lines. HI!!!

Anyway, today I thought I’d write about my foot, you see I broke my heel (official name calcaneum) years ago, I’m not sure exactly when, but more than 13 years ago, probably more like 14 years maybe. It was a horrible break, I came off my horse and tried to land on my feet and just went straight through my left foot and landed facing the other way, on my back. The break went into surrounding bones too (intra articular :)) and had to be repaired by pinning and plating it. There, my medical bit is done, I enjoyed that… So although it was repaired in a way and the surgeon was brilliant, it and the joint to the ankle often gets very stiff and painful, particularly if I’ve been very active then sat down for a while, or when I first get up. It loosens off, but I think I do limp a bit, although I try not to.

What I’ve realised this week is that since we’ve been here, my balance and strength in that particular leg/foot has improved vastly. I can now balance on that leg and take weight much more than before, I am much less likely to trip up and am not as anxious about it. What I can only put it down to is that since being here, it’s been quite a physical life. What I mean by that is, fetching and chopping wood, fetching coal, crossing over a very rough drive with large stones that cause my foot to adjust and bend more than it would normally. Also, taking bags of weeds etc when I’ve been gardening right round to the compost heap round the back – it consists of going over the rough stones and up a little incline. Because we have been doing the house up too, you sometimes (usually, at the moment) have to be quite nimble around the house, because otherwise you fall over stuff which seems to make its way into the way of where you walk, no matter how many times you move it.

It was a real moment of ‘wow’ when I realised this. Because it was weird as well, if I couldn’t see where I was going very well or when it was dark, my balance went right off. I suddenly realised as I was carrying a very large bag of mud and weeds up a bank and thought it’s got stronger!

So, difficult times or at least challenging times, are or can be good. They strengthen you and cause you to persevere, they change you. Yes, I am comparing my foot to life in general. If we persevere, if we carry on, we get stronger and eventually can walk properly, or at least with some balance.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Yes that verse is talking about our walk with God and the effect that trials have upon us providing we keep our faith in God and trust Him. The way I see it, it’s a bit like my foot, we have trials, we have tests, like the rocky ground, the walking up the bank/incline, the lugging everything around and walking back and forth to the barn in the pouring rain and howling wind, but it’s all worth it and produces far more than we even realise.

God has far more for us than we realise, it also says this in the bible. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20). God is the power at work in us, providing we know Him. We need to trust Him, walk with Him, trust He is working in our lives, partner with Him. He will build us up, we don’t build ourselves up, God does.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:10-11).

I love Psalm 46, when I first got to know Jesus I wrote down a whole host of scriptures about fear that I carried around with me and the beginning of Psalm 46 was included and goes like this:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3).

Isn’t that beautiful? I know I always seem to say that, but it is. Say it out loud, think it, believe it. He is wonderful. No matter how I/you are feeling, no matter what is going on, no matter what anyone else says or thinks or does, no matter anything! Those words are true. He also has a place prepared for you in which you will be far longer than you or I am here on this earth, it’s called Heaven and is far more than any of us can imagine. There is a condition though, you have to come to God through Jesus.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).

Oh it’s a lovely day…

Warning: contains details of killing a quail, so do not read on if you don’t want to read about it.

So, we’ve had a couple of gorgeous days of weather, it’s lovely, but cold today, yesterday was even a bit warm! So we went outside instead of doing anything else. It was lovely, we’ve been mowing and weeding and running about and the boys have just been playing.

Ireland brought new measures into place yesterday, which means Chris is now off work for at least 2 weeks. The new measures mean the car testing (NCT) place has also shut down, but no one actually informed the customers (including Chris who had an appointment for the car’s retest this morning), so he came home again. I’m presuming they’re going to extend the test periods so people can actually still drive legally.

The quail raising thing hasn’t worked at all… we only have one left and he’s a male and was plucking all feathers from the other one we had left. I’ve had to kill the other one as it had splayed legs and couldn’t move properly. It’s the first time I’ve had to do this to a quail.. the rest died naturally quite a while ago. It was ok as far as killing any animal goes.. You use very sharp scissors and basically cut their head off from behind, over a bucket. I went down to the barn to do it, away from the kids. I was hovering for a bit, should I? shouldn’t I? then I decided to do it, my heart was hammering. Thankfully, the scissors were extremely sharp and it was done without any problems. This is part of what we intended our life to be (but it was supposed to be animals for food, mind, not because there was something wrong with them), so probably good to get experience, but it was still hard to do. I’ve learnt a lot from raising them though, so if we ever decide to do it again, we’ve got a lot better idea about what’s involved… we’ll see though, I think I’d rather have chickens, having tried both. I’ll probably have to do the other quail too this weekend, seeing how he’s on his own and is a feather plucker. So, steep learning curve there from the whole experience… unfortunately! in a lot of ways, but it’s been useful in others. Sorry if it makes you cringe, it is what it is I’m afraid!

I’ve just sent a message to someone to see if we can get some chicken eggs to hatch (sent in the post), so we’ll start again and try to do a little better this time! I’m going for a dual purpose chicken, so we can have them for either eggs or meat in the future. Hopefully, it’ll go well and there’ll be a good hatch rate and healthy birds.

Advice.

I’m in two minds today, I don’t particularly want to offend people, but I’m getting a bit narky about certain things, it’s not just now, it’s something that’s bothered me for a while now…

Children, more specifically, our attitudes towards them. I have lost count, over the years, of the times people have said to me things like ‘don’t worry, they’ll be in nursery/preschool/school soon’ or ‘they’ll calm down once they’re in school’ or many other remarks. I am a stay at home mum, or to put it very un PC like – a housewife. I am not ashamed of this, I count myself as very privileged to be in the position where I can do this. I also very much dislike the attitude that they ‘hamper you’ or ‘get in the way’. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had dreadful times (as well as lovely) over the years, whilst learning to do this whole stay at home thing, but I have found that attitude counts for a lot and also that a lot of the problems when they occur, happen because I’ve just been thinking of myself, rather than anyone else.

I also disagree with the whole premise a lot of people seem to have had over recent years (including people I’ve encountered when I had post natal depression), which is of ‘love yourself’, but that ‘love yourself’ seems to encompass – it’s ok to stay in your pyjamas all day, it’s ok to not do any housework or chores ever, it’s ok to watch TV all day every day… and indeed it is…ok….but it’s not good for you.

What I have found in my personal experience, is that if you do all that, it actually makes things a whole lot worse, not better. I am talking life on the whole here, not the odd day or two, or if you are so bad that you literally can’t move. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed, do the basic chores, do the washing, sort the clothes, plan your meals, then you are able to function because the clutter is gone, the stuff you need to do is gone, Then you can actually focus on other things and people, like your kids. If you don’t like this, I’m sorry, but it’s the truth of what I’ve found to be true.

My personal experience is that I have a grown up daughter of nearly 25, and two sons of 5 and 2. When my girl was little, I did my nurse training and she therefore did spend a lot of time in nurseries, with family members etc, then I qualified as a nurse and ditto, it got better when I chose to become a District Nurse. Since then she has obviously grown up and is independent. With the boys, I gave up nursing just before the 5 year old was born and stayed off, we’ve then obviously moved to Ireland. We’ve been in Ireland about 15 months now I think and we’ve been pretty isolated in a lot of ways. It takes a while to make friends and get to know anyone, especially since it’s a very rural area. I’ve thought about homeschooling ever since the eldest boy was born and then finally decided on it at the beginning of this year, before we even had in inkling that the schools would be closed. The main reason being, I thought and still think it is better for my eldest than going to a ‘proper’ school. I did not particularly think he would flourish at a school and am still of that opinion.

On the whole, we have loved it, I had a very brief period where I almost felt grief that I wouldn’t have any time to myself, so to speak, but that feeling soon left. I actually found it a lot less pressured and very exciting! you don’t have to get ready for a certain time, pack anything up, physically get in the car to take them anywhere. You can have your day how you want it. I also found that the boys seemed to benefit and seemed to be spending more time independently playing and that they got more creative, so I did and do get moments alone and time to do other things I need to do.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I chose to actually do some teaching for approximately a couple of hours a day to give us some structure. Some home school families do not do it this way. This tends to be about 10-12 ish, but it’s moveable. J (eldest) seems to love learning now, he’s started writing numbers, doing his own puzzles, trying to understand words and writing random letters, he’s writing his name all of a sudden. I’ve varied between a structured ‘package’ approach to just informal and playing games, he particularly likes matching games, matching numbers up with dice spots for example or whatever we can think of really. I like thinking of different, interesting ways to involve numbers and letters and just doing life together seems to mean they both just learn, almost without trying sometimes.

So, it’s good, but it’s also hard, I’ve found it’s very good for me in a lot of ways, it exposes a lot of ways in myself which aren’t that great and enables me to bring them to God. So I get it’s hard, I get no one with the school closures chose to do this, but my main advice is (as I have heard quoted by Elizabeth Elliot) is ‘refuse self pity’ and I would add onto that, stop moaning. Then, start from there… I really do want to reiterate, I have learned this from experience and there are days when I am shattered and have just sat in a chair and have cried. But try and just take it day by day, try to have some fun and try to see them for the wonderful and complex little beings they are.

This life, that some are moaning about is actually the life (in some ways) that I have been living for the past 15 months. This is the life that people have said they wish they could have, remarked things like ‘what a wonderful life your children are having’ and other things. So try not to worry, let them let off steam and have some exercise, movement is incredibly important to young children, and spend time with them as well as leaving them to it sometimes. I’m sure you’re doing a good job and that you do love your kids, and that being caged in the house isn’t exactly ideal, it’s just easier when we don’t see it so much as a burden.

Cathy

Deep…

So, I want to talk about something, but only very briefly today, bit weird to some maybe, but it’s been on my mind.

I’ve been thinking.. what if we used at least a little of this time to go deep, by ourselves! in our private time with God. What if we went all out to have an absolutely, rock and roll prayer/worship/anything goes (even silence) type time with Him. It would definitely be better than Netflix.

We could have an absolutely amazing time, just God and ourselves, just getting to know Him more, being one with Him, seeing what He does and says, just being. I need to do it.

If anyone is thinking, ‘I don’t have time’. you do. I do. I just haven’t done it to that extent recently. I’ve found other distractions. Floor us Lord.

End of today’s bloggedy blog… good bye!

Insurance, technology and creativity, all separately of course, I'm not that intellectual…

I’ve just been trying to renew our car insurance, it’s slightly complicated (and expensive compared to the UK). Because we’ve only had insurance in Ireland for a year and we’ve full Irish licenses, but they were again only issued again about a year ago, we don’t fit into the right categories and I can’t answer the questions properly on the online application forms. I’m waiting for somebody to get back to me to check, because we have been given 75% no claims, whatever that means, for accrued driving experience etc but it isn’t given in years. The prices are also approximately double the UK prices. It’s swings and roundabouts in a way, because our property tax is very cheap. But the motoring costs over here are unreal! Tax on the Jimny for the year is about 500 euros and the insurance is about double what it is in the UK. Just some bits of info there, in case you’re thinking of moving here!

J is currently outside, he asked if he could go out and I readily said yes. I’m realising at the moment how good it is to have the garden and land we have and the freedom for the kids to be outside.

Feeling slightly removed from the majority of people who don’t have this. It’s weird, because 5/6 years ago, I’d have been on the frontline with the nurses and doctors and was living in a terrace, right up close to people (I miss you though) and now we’re out in the Irish Countryside. I’m praying this morning for the workers obviously, but also for people with addictions who may be facing isolation and temptation due to this. It’s so easy when you’re worried and alone to just get drunk or whatever your particular struggle is… I’m also thinking, I’m so glad about all this technology at this time! Aren’t you? I’m presuming the apps like zoom mean that AA meetings and support work can still go on in a way and it is definitely better than nothing. Personally, I am also loving that you can see and potentially take part in loads of different church services and meetings because of this technology. I’ve found it very interesting, to watch different meetings and worship times online as well. Rend Collective did one the other night and it was lovely. All accessible to everyone, as well! you don’t even have to venture forth into the scary world of church buildings and people. Brilliant. (It isn’t scary really, but I certainly thought it was when I first went).

Lastly, for now, if you’re creatively inclined and like writing, start a blog or at least journal! It is awesome. You can let out all your thoughts and feelings and it can cause you to examine them as well and see what you really do think and feel and believe! Even if no one reads it, it is a good thing to do. For me, it’s a real outlet and also helps with my tendency to worry about what people think. It focuses me on God and what is important. Think of it as a sort of psalm, let it all go and out and then come back to God and his goodness, majesty and sovereignty. If you don’t know Him, seek him. The bible says if you turn your face towards him, he will lift the veil. In other words, you will see Him. He’s there and He loves you with an unfailing love, real love. The love we all seek and don’t find without Him.

Now go be creative. Write letters, write blogs, draw, play drawing games with the kids, paint, get messy, cuddle up, cut things out, make crowns and masks, act out stories, do silly voices and silly dances, go outside if you can, sit in stillness and listen. Just enjoy the time together. And let them play, without interference too. We don’t have to be involved in every minute of each other’s days. Amen! Right, hope that wasn’t lecturey, don’t want to lecture, but I’ve been on a huge learning curve over the past year or two, so I do have something to add.

Also, I do feel there is really something in learning to be still, to listen, to just be, to seek and see God, to talk to Him and this is the ideal opportunity really.

(Ooh. Ooh, one more thing to add. Play music, learn to play that instrument you’ve got hanging around (in my case a mouth organ and potentially a key board) or just play anyway. It is so much fun. Christians – worship 😊. )

God bless you one and all.

Cathy.