Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #9

This morning I did something I shouldn’t have done. To be more precise, it was something that I regret doing. It’s not that it was something that, in and of itself, should or shouldn’t be done. It’s just that I wish I hadn’t done it.

I looked through a folder of photos on my computer.

The other day, I was intending to download just one photo from my camera to my computer and normally it would just download the one (or ones) that hadn’t already been downloaded. This time, for some reason unknown to me, it downloaded every picture on my camera. That meant I had two years of photos neatly collected in one folder. A lot can happen in two years.

So it was to this folder that I went, looking for one or two photos to ‘pretty up’ today’s thankfulness post.

What I found was many pretty photos, many memories, many friends and family members, many photos that, when taken, captured moments of joy. But in that mix, inevitably, there were photos in which, with hindsight, I now see pain and confusion peeking out from my eyes. There were photos that made me miss my more familiar ‘home away from home’. There was beauty in other lands that just made me sigh.

Within a matter of minutes, my flicking through the photos had produced a growing pain in my heart – a pain of love, loss, regret and yearning. All I had wanted was a couple of pretty photos!

Mercifully, I had to cut short the journey down ‘photographic lane’ to go to church.

It was the best thing I could do. Though, inevitably, there were challenges waiting for me there, I also found comfort. I was reminded that loss is the way to gain and that I follow a Saviour whose victory came through pain.

My heart still feels tender but, at moments like these, I am helped by focussing on the present. Today is the 26th April, 2015 – not some other date or time or era.

So at this moment, on this day, I am thanking God for:

1. The whisper of a friend’s recent encouragement to keep writing no matter how I feel, as I ate my sandwich today and wondered if I could be bothered writing or not.

2. The will to get up and walk to my computer.

3. The blessing of a quiet afternoon and evening ahead to rest.

4. The sound of rainfall outside which gives me every reason I may need to stay indoors and curl up under a quilt in front of the heater and read (or sleep).

5. An old friend at church making me laugh out loud (very loudly!) as he recounted some very ordinary tales of being drenched in storms on his way to work this week.

6. A functioning computer and internet connection.

7. Memories of last night – a ‘Mental as Anything’ Concert that I’d been invited to in order to make up a table. Turns out that I knew (and loved) most of their songs. I smile now as I picture my foot tapping along. I almost had the courage to get up and dance – almost – but I certainly danced on the inside.

8. Boiled Eggs – ready comfort in a neat package.

9. Prayer and a hug from the minister and his wife at church this morning.

10. One beautiful reminder from the photos perused this morning – of one moment in time when I was truly in the moment – and loving every minute of that moment.

Sunshine, an espresso, some reading material and something purple. All good things to have in any given moment.

Sunshine, an espresso, some reading material and something purple. All good things to have in any given moment.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #3

Another tip I’ve gathered along the path of practicing thankfulness is to look for the love. Many moments in my life have been wasted wishing for love from unrequited sources, or grieving love lost from places where it once was or promised to be.

Practicing thankfulness helps me see the love that’s already there – love that comes from the God who made me and the people he places in my life. I find my life is a love story if I watch it unfold with eyes open.

Today I awake with the knowledge that I am loved, thankful for:

1. People who notice me and are witnesses to my life. I have been reading a book called ‘Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone’ by Eric Klinenberg. In it there are many stories of people who enjoy living alone and thrive in the solitude and rest they experience. There are also sad stories of people who live and die, unnoticed, unmissed, alone in their homes. While I live alone, I have people who would miss me if I died – eventually!

2. Two friends, who on my arrival here in this country, asked if there was anything I needed. I had most things I needed, but I mentioned that the coffee plunger (cafetière) in the apartment where I am living was a bit defective. They went out and bought me one. They also gave me money to buy coffee to fill it.

3. Friends who go to the bother of catching up after my long absences from this land.

4. Friends who understand that all that catching up can be tiring.

5. An arm around my shoulder.

6. A talk at church yesterday, reminding us of God’s love for us.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 4)

7. A pastor on his knees, praying a loving, heart-felt prayer that we would know God’s deep love for us.

8. God’s love that comes with power to change us from the inside out.

9. A coffee made with love – no doubt with love for excellence in coffee-making, rather than love for the coffee drinker. Nevertheless, the unexpected ‘art’ on a black coffee made me feel all warm and ‘lovely’ inside 🙂

Mountains in the Moonlight?

Mountains in the Moonlight?

10. A little glass of sparkling water, served with my coffee: the love of an ‘added bonus’.

Coffee with Sparkle

Coffee with Sparkle

Daily Prompt

I Have My Mum’s Hands

For Day #7 of Writing 201, we are to write a prose poem, around the theme of ‘fingers’, using the device of assonance.

My Hand? Mum's Hand?

My Hand? Mum’s Hand?

I Have My Mum’s Hands

I have my Mum’s hands.

Well, as it stands, my Mum’s hands are

Her hands.

No, my hands are hers, as they were

Twenty years ago.

When I look at her hands I see the

Future in store for me.

Not in her palms, but her fingers

My eyes linger on the backs of her hands

Seeing scars from hours of work for this girl

And many others.

My mother’s hands have worked hard

In the yard, the kitchen, the office.

Keeping bees, on her knees, weeding gardens.

I love my Mum’s hands.

They’re my future

Hands. A future of hard work

And giving love. A future I’d do well to

Grasp

With both hands.

Big Girl Love – A Ballad

To start off Week 2 of the Writing 201 course, we were prompted to write a ballad with a big hero/heroine, using the device of ‘epistrophe’ – a cluster of words repeated at the end of each verse.

I went with some words I heard last week. Words spoken to a big girl who must have looked like she needed to hear them.

Love for a Big-Hearted Girl

She was always a big girl, large from the start.

She followed the rules  – did her dutiful part.

Then she heard the words that sunk deep in her heart:

Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. People love you, you know.

At school she was tall, above all her peers,

In the back row of photos in every school year.

They said ‘Big is beautiful!’ to dry up her tears.

Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. People love you, you know.

Strangers asked for directions as they slowed to pass by.

She figured, they figured, she’d see far from that high.

And if she could help, she’d be helpful, she’d try.

Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. People love you, you know.

Princes were paraded before that big-hearted girl.

But unknowing feet trampled the shine off that pearl.

They’d all gone before they saw her beauty unfurl.

Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. People love you, you know.

Some say she’s fun. Others say she’s scary.

It’s hard to be all things, unless you’re a fairy.

Those words, her reality, can seem so contrary.

Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. People love you, you know.

When reality bites and that big girl quakes.

Goes to sleep with the fears and rejections that shake.

Her big God’s love is there when she wakes:

“Wherever you are, wherever you go, you’ll always be loved. I love you, you know.”

In the Bosom of My Family – With Marcella #95, #96, #97, #98 & #99 (of 466)

I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on ‘bosoms’. That’s the figurative, not the fleshy, kind – though residing now in a warmer climate does give one continual pause for such fleshy reflection.

In the days before my departure for the other side of the world, I was in attendance at a conference where the speaker was teaching from John’s Gospel. He made the heart-warming observation that when Jesus spoke of he and the Father ‘being one’ it was in the realm of the language of ‘being in the bosom of’ – that is, in close and warm relationship. He went on to remind us, that as followers of Jesus, we were included in this warm, familial embrace.

My heart was warmed. It still is.

This morning I awoke, still reflecting upon bosoms, and the song ‘Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham’ popped into my head! I know! Where did that come from?! And what did those lyrics ever really mean to this young child singing them?? However, after three repetitions of this incomprehensible line, it moves on to these clear words…

Oh, wonderful love! So high, you can’t get over it. So low, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get around it. Oh, wonderful love!”

My guess is that the start of the song was meant to cause my soul to ‘rock’ (take joy?) in the comfort that I’ve been included in God’s family. I can certainly ‘rock’ a lot in that wonderful love!

This past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing the safe, warm, reliable love of my family’s embrace. We are no ‘Leave it to Beaver’ kind of family. But we have certainly been learning to love and understand one another better as the years have passed. My family is very good at welcoming me back every couple of years – into their fold – and coping with my ‘I’m not coping with changing countries’ issues that I have for the first week or so. They’ve been coping with this for 17 years, which makes them pretty wonderful.

It has been my delight to cook for them over the past week or so. Up till now they had been merely reading of my ‘Marcellan’ cooking adventures. Now they have tasted them – with (mostly) enthusiastic responses. The thing about cooking for family, rather than guests, is that you get honest feedback!

A Table Set in Oz

A Table Set in Oz

I have also had the delight of eating my Mum’s Roast Lamb Dinner! We enjoyed that together as a family on our belated ‘Christmas Day’ together (on the 24th January). I can heartily recommend a belated Christmas Day! We experienced none of the giddy heights of unrealistic expectation – and the crashing disappointment of reality – that often come with the real Christmas Day. We just enjoyed the day in a relaxed, pressure-free way. It was great! We’re thinking of doing it again next time!

Having introduced my family to the delights of ‘Risotto’ (my father had eaten it in pre-packaged, microwaveable form before and agreed that Marcella’s was a great deal better), and the comfort of a Frittata, I have reached 99 recipes!

I plan to cook recipe number 100 tonight for my brother and I to share. Feel free to make guesses as to what that recipe might be!

Over the past couple of weeks: #95 ‘Asparagus Salad’, #96 ‘Risotto with Parmesan’, #97 ‘Frittata with Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes, #98 ‘Sauteed Mushrooms with Olive Oil, Garlic and Mushrooms, and #99 ‘Risotto with Bolognese Sauce, at some good, loving, Aussie tables.