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Posts Tagged ‘Great Britain’

I’ve been agonizing over it from the beginning.

Discussing with John, my friends, and my own own uncertain brain

just what should be done. 

I’d so wanted him to come into the world in the usual way,

this fourth son of mine.

You know, as most babies come,

instead of in the traumatic, agonized way my first ones arrived

before being swaddled and placed into my shaking arms.

And so I discussed, read, considered,

and after arriving in Scotland and speaking with my midwife and consultant,

decided I wanted to try to labor on my own instead of booking a date for surgery.

I decided it as if that were it.

As if since that’s what I wanted

then that’s how it would go.

Yet here I sit, my stomach still round and high and hard

like a Christmas pudding.

A week after my due date and no baby has arrived.

I tried  to help him come. 

Tried to make my dreams of a natural birth,

which deep inside I’d always felt had been unfairly stolen from me with my first births,

into a reality at long last.

For a week now I’ve been walking all over this town.

Through higgledy-piggledy harbor-side streets lined with fishing cottages,

and up along the braes where the grander houses stand.

With the hills behind me and the sea in front,

and dotted all around, the towering church steeples,

I never lost my way.

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I walked, and lunged, and squatted.

We ordered spicy Indian food.

I prayed.

Prayed for God to please make it so,

for if He formed me,

then He could make my body do just what it needed to do to make this baby come.

And yet four hours from now I’ll be at the hospital,

making preparations for yet another c-section.

And I must admit to moments of panic

earlier this week.

Moments where I felt I’d do most anything

just to have my way. 

Never mind my limited vision.

My limited perspective of my own life,

the life of those around me,

and the life of this child inside.

But God knows.

He more than knows it. 

Knows every eventuality

of what could and would

come to be

with the type of delivery I have,

with the different paths I take.

And so I trust Him.

Not only because He knows,

but because He’s waiting.

Already there. 

With one hand behind me,

and one hand before,

He’s with me.

He’s with my baby.

As He’s been with us

from day number one.

There, in the operating room

He is with me.

In the following weeks of recovery

as I feed, and change, and soothe,

He is there, too.

And what His reason is for letting me journey this path,

rather than the one I thought I wanted,

I may never know.

But I trust Him.

Because He made me.

Made me for a purpose,

a purpose that involves my experiences,

my challenges,

all the people that I’ll meet.

And so rather than hanging on with desperation and despair

to an ending that will not come to be, 

I’m determined to

take that hand

He stands holding out for me,

walk with Him the path He’s laid for us.

The path that is my life

just as He meant it to be. 

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We’ve arrived.

Took months to get us here, it seems.

Passport renewals and plane tickets.

Hunting out the next size up of clothes for the boys (all three of them, and this new little one who will arrive while we are here).

Cleaning the house in the way that only a nesting mother-to-be can do.

Packing and nesting and saying “See you next spring,” to our friends.

And up until the last two weeks, immersing myself for an hour each day back in 1941.

And it was tiring.

I was tired.

Tired like an addict of some sleep-inducing drug.

But planes and newborn babies, they don’t tend to wait.

And so I pressed through, and I made it, and we’re here.

We’ere here!

Scotland.

Scotland, which was home for eight years, and now hasn’t been for three.

Scotland, where everything is dear and familiar, strange and new.

Even after all that time, the hills never disappoint me.

Never seem less beautiful than ever they were.

And I can never help but think that all of this–all of this crossing of oceans–must mean something. Must DO something, deep inside of me.

Because it always has.

But when you’re away, out of your routine, it’s easy to forget the working, the striving, and try to get by just sailing for a while. And sometimes you still learn this way. Sometimes the haphazard can still help you grow. But I don’t want to leave it to chance.

I’ve got people. Dear ones. They need me at my best.

And though in the rush of the sea I hear the whisper of my Maker calling, it can be hard to hear His voice amongst so many other things that charm. Here in this place that always stirred my heart.

But hearts, as you know, are not always true. They can lead us on a merry dance.

And so while I want to savour each misty hill, each cup of tea, each warm embrace of a dear friend, I want to end this journey with a clearer eye, a clearer vision, and a closer walk with my Saviour than when I began.

Join me? 

Walk with me?

Let’s see where this road goes . . . 

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 Our view from the house

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Sometimes it helps, remembering where you’ve been.

Other times it’s enough to leave you in a fit of tears.

Make you crawl into bed, yank up the covers

to hide your face,

blot your tears.

It can be regret

for what you did

or didn’t do

that leaves you feeling this way.

Regret for what you did

or what was done to you.

Other times it’s the life you had

but don’t have any more.

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And it’s a combination, I suppose, of all those things, that can get me, really get me, make me want to head for bed, cocoon myself in the covers, throw a temper tantrum of the grown-up type.

A photo can remind me. Bring to mind all that once was.

A photo, or basement, maybe. A basement full of boxes that represent my life.

Boxes. Time capsules.

And that’s just what I created, though I didn’t know it those many years ago, when I wrapped my treasured possessions in old t-shirts and lace, arranged them carefully in empty banana boxes until someday when I was older, when I’d want them again, when I’d have a daughter . . .

And I didn’t know, when with slim, tanned hands, I slid the lids off the dozens of silver boxes we received for our wedding, that I wouldn’t hear the rustle of that tissue paper or see the gleaming stainless steel and sparkling crystal again for another ten years . . .

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Now, with a house of my own back on this side of the Atlantic, they have been delivered to me—water stained banana boxes and silver gift boxes alike, and a thousand memories come back, along with a thousand questions, as I unpack it all and set on the floor around me.

It brings a smile, leaves an ache, when I remember. When I remember that we only meant to stay in Scotland for a year, though it turned out to be eight. When I recall how desperately I’ve always wanted a daughter, though God knew I needed sons.

And I’d like to claim it doesn’t matter. That I’m above all that.

All that wishing for weekend trips to London.

London, when it was just a few hours’ drive away.

England, with all the birthplaces and resting places of those literary geniuses I so adore.

Scotland. Our home.

Our stone house in the village, with our view of the valley, and the short walk to a friend’s front door.

And the rain—how I learned to love the rain!—and the sound of the kettle when we made our tea.

And the mist, and how it never did stop putting wonder in my heart.

And I’d like to claim I haven’t cried for a little girl I could gift with my tea set, my Anne of Green Gables doll.

Yeah, I could pretend. I could pretend that it’s fine.

It’s just fine with me.

And I don’t have to wrestle. Not one little bit.

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But I know, and you know, that would all be one fat lie.

And there’s such a thing, I’ve learned, as pain that’s clean.

Clean pain, like from a surgeon’s knife.

Clean pain, when you learn to see

He knows a better way.

And though I’ve always known it, in theory, that His ways are best, that He’d take you round the world and back again to bring you closer to Him, I didn’t really know it till I’d gone.

Round the world. And back.

And I have to still my heart a little, to realize He’d do all that

just for me.

And so when I doubt, when life seems about as predictable as a Kansas plain, when I’m pretending to let go, but my thumb and finger are pinching, holding tight to something I think I need to make me happy, that I can’t live without, that’s when I’ve got, just got, to remember what He’s done.

On the cross.

In my life.

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The adventure! I’d never dared to dream.

My sin! Yet He has drawn me back.

My former life can seem quite rosy, in the scrapbook of my mind.

It’s easy to forget the shadows when we think of the past.

But when Love is waiting to catch you

it’s best to let go.

Let go and rest.

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You might also be inspired by “Sinking in Deep” https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/11/02/sinking-in-deep/

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Happy Little Sigh in now on Facebook and Twitter. Join me there?

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You blinked and it happened, didn’t it?

Summer flew by.

All those lazy days you planned and enjoyed are gone . . . or never seemed to come about at all.

And you’re not sure how it happened because, why, yesterday was just the fourth of July, and the time was meant to go slower, and the days were meant to be longer, and you’re just not ready to put your child into the next grade up, or go into the next grade yourself.

And you can already feel yourself drooling over tropical islands and craving some vitamin D.

And please don’t anyone mention that C word.

Christmas?

Mmmm . . . that’s right.

But aren’t we all happy when it comes?

I mean, imagine that it didn’t.

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Imagine no family, no friends, no gifting, no baking, no singing, no decorations, no lights.

No light.

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But there is, and we do.

Have Christmas. Have Light.

Even in winter.

6759890bb24056f0e86bc5f3570130efAnd Light has a name.

“At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

~ C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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And Light’s other name is Love.

Love that can get you through the winter.

Or a winter of your soul.

Love that comes after you, with a deafening roar and a mighty leap.

Even if you don’t know it, or you know it and you’re running away.

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Winter.

It will come, no matter how we dig in our heals and will summer to stay.

But lighting our path through to next spring will be the celebration of the birth of a King.

A King who will, one day, make an end to

darkness

of

every

kind.

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Journey with me? Into autumn, through the winter, as we look for Love, look for Light?

Avonlea x

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Psalm 139:7-12, James 1:17

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The Thaw Begins

The Thaw Begins – photo by crunklygill

“‘Yes,’ said Queen Lucy. ‘In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.'”

—The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis

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I wouldn’t be surprised if the dictionary definition of the word cozy (or cosy, as it’s spelled in the UK) read “of or relating to all things British.” During the years I spent in Great Britain, I came to recognize, appreciate, and love Britain’s penchant for the simple, the ordered, and the beautiful things in this world. Those uncomplicated, quiet routines, which have the ability to add much richness and comfort to life. Pulling on a worn pair of wellies and a wooly jumper to take the dog for a walk through the woods, the continued popularity of a real, open fire, and that wonderful, ongoing routine of a mid-morning tea break, known as elevenses.

Over the sweltering hot summer months we experienced this year in America, I was disappointed to find that the last thing I wanted to partake of was a hot drink (although my husband continued to brew himself a cuppa several times a day). And so I’ve been thankful for the recent dip in temperatures, which sent me searching for the cozier items in my wardrobe, and once again found me reveling in the slow sipping of a hot cup of tea from my favorite mug.

Yes, elevenses continue at our house. It falls conveniently just before naptime for my youngest, and is a chance for us to break away from whatever has occupied our morning and come together for a little company and refreshment. Even our six-year-old enjoys a cup of tea, “with loads of milk and sugar,” and we all enjoy a piece of shortbread or two. Routine adds a sense of comfort and stability to our days, and I believe that any routine that involves tea, and gives us the opportunity to speak and laugh together, is a good one. So hurrah for elevenses. Long may they live!

What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he?

~ Pippin, Lord of the Rings

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Americans, I’ve observed, are good entertainers. And by this I’m not implying that we’re all qualified to play the leading role in Swan Lake, or that we can belt out the Hallelujah Chorus with perfect pitch. What I’m saying is that Americans, on the whole, know how to throw a good soiree, shindig, bash, or whatever you’d like to call it.

Growing up, I was taught the importance of presentation. If food looked beautiful and appetizing, then it would taste even better. Whatever the occasion, whether a tea party, child’s birthday party, or summer cookout, my mother would put care into choosing just the right invitations, menu, decorations, plates, and music to make sure the gathering was something special. This was her way of saying that both the guests and the person she was throwing the party for, were special and worthy of a true celebration.

I missed many American holidays when I lived in Scotland. For not only do Americans love to celebrate, we seem to find more reasons to do so than many other countries. On top of our extra holidays like Thanksgiving and Independence Day, we also have baby showers, wedding showers, and graduation open houses, none of which were the norm in the UK. But one thing I did take with me from my time in Scotland was an appreciation for simple, spontaneous entertaining, which is perhaps even more useful in building friendships and encouraging others than the carefully planned dinner party type of entertaining. True hospitality is not always convenient, polished, nor planned. It is, however, warm, welcoming, and real.

Most hospitality in Scotland, whether planned or not, involves the drinking of tea. As all devoted tea drinkers know, there is something soothing, healing, and inspiring in a good cup of tea. It is not only reserved for tea parties, nor just an after-dinner treat. It is offered to the workman who has come to fix the boiler. To the neighbor who stops by to return a dish. To the friend who has come round so your children can play together.

Most of the time a wee something to eat is offered along with the hot cuppa. Some hostesses disappear into the kitchen for a few minutes and return bearing a tray laden with mini sandwiches, crackers and cheese, or tray bakes. Other times, especially in the case of busy mums, the hostess raids the children’s biscuit tin, with its mismatched and broken contents. Or, loveliest of all, you might stop by someone’s home and discover they were baking that very morning, and can offer you a warm fairy cake or scone.

The most common tea in the UK is black tea, but green tea, herbal tea, and other varieties such as Earl Grey and Darjeeling are also popular. Whatever the offering, a cup of tea is not only a gift of nourishment, of calm, and of warmth (especially welcome on those blustery Scottish winter days). A cup of tea also says, “Stop for a minute and rest. Let’s chat about the weather, or, if we are true friends, about life.” With a warm cup between your hands and a friend’s face across the table or sofa, problems can be solved, joys and sorrows shared, and spirits uplifted.

In most Scottish households, the kettle is boiled for tea many times a day. It’s a drink for life’s many ordinary moments. But I’ve appreciated the times when a friend has done something to make our gathering a bit special, such as using teacups and saucers instead of mugs, lighting a candle and placing it on the table, setting out decorative napkins, or even trying a different tea such as Lady Grey. These simple touches go a step further in making moments special, and letting your guest know how much you treasure time spent with them.

So next time someone stops by unexpectedly, instead of telling yourself they’re an interruption to your day, offer them a cup of tea, dig out the treat you’ve been waiting for an excuse to open, and sit back and let the laughter (or the tears) flow.

Raspberry Fairy Cakes and Tea

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