A few words for Christmas….

christmas-angel It has been almost a year since I wrote anything here but I felt inspired to start again after reading someone else’s blog which she had revisited it after a long absence.

It has been a busy year and has seen more roller coasters for my friends and family. My beloved sister Kate has made her journey through cancer treatment for the second time, bearing all very bravely as always. Her indomitable spirit and deep faith have been such inspiration to everyone, shining as such a beacon in the darkness. She is now supporting her husband Phil as he awaits some medical interventions and I know he will be able to draw on her strength as she has on his.

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My daughters continue to amaze and amuse me as well as always being there when I need support. Laura spent a week in “The Jungle” refugee camp at Calais just a week before it closed. I believe it had a massive impact on her and she is actively doing more to help and support refugee causes. Rebecca’s  continued dedication to supporting Amy’s boys Jago and Madok is heartwarming to witness, and her culinary and organisational skills make such a difference here at home.

My grandchildren are all growing up so quickly. Angel did well in her GCSE’s and is working hard in the sixth form. Finlay excels at his drumming and is always ready to help others. Phoebe draws, dances and sings her way through life and never fails to amaze me with her in depth questions and conversations, a very wise head on very young shoulders.

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I have achieved one of my own ambitions this year by completing my two years at college to graduate with my Diploma in Counselling. A glutton for punishment I have embarked on a third year to gain a BA and am working hard to achieve that too.

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That is us,  but I have been moved deeply by events across the world and remain acutely aware of the suffering and hardship experienced as a result of war, terrorism and poverty, man’s inhumanity to man sinking to greater depths than ever. The world has never needed a light in its darkness more than it does right now. People who have lost their way are looking in the wrong place for the light.

This is what Christmas is all about.

We had a wonderful new addition to our family when we welcomed Charlotte Amy Shaw into the world in November. She is a poppet, still trying to work out the difference between day and night but loved by all of us.

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As I watch her parents, new at this experience, I marvel at how God entrusted the salvation of mankind to a teenage mother in order that we could know how  much He loved us, that we might see His likeness and know Him as He identified with all our humanity.

This is what Christmas is all about.

Angels, shepherds, wise men, stable, innkeeper, all the cast of His story so familiar and the reason for the season – we can gaze at the baby in the manger but find it harder to accept the man He grew to be. There is only one reason for Christmas and that is Jesus, who came to give us the gift of salvation, freedom from guilt, and life changing grace and love.

The words of John’s gospel say this

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I know so many friends and others who are dealing with difficult life changing and life threatening situations, where health and well-being are compromised and who need support. As we approach the celebrations of the next two days let us remember those for whom there is no stable fixed abode, for whom there is no freedom from poverty, for whom life is shortened by ill health, for those living on the edges of society, outcast and marginalised. These are the ones for whom Jesus came, took on human flesh and lived amongst us. These are the ones He calls us to be with, to be His hands and feet, His heart of love and compassion.

That is what Christmas is all about.

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I wish all of you a happy Christmas, a blessed time of love and sharing, that is what Christmas is all about.

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One day more….

So here we are at the end of the first month of this year. I don’t know how its been for you but I am always truly glad when January leaves and February arrives. I’ve been driving to work and back in the dark for the last three months but happily the mornings are much lighter and the evenings are finally drawing out. The weather hasn’t behaved as it should and the rain and wind have seemed incessant, especially to those who have experienced flooding and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.

With the advent of February there is the promise of spring. That too has been earlier this year with daffodils and other seasonal plants blooming already. It is heartening to see the nodding golden heads of daffodils appear along the roadside and in the fields. A promise that there is change in the air, there is more to come and more to enjoy.

For me personally it has been a busy month but punctuated by a delightful trip to London last weekend to see my favourite musical Les Miserables. This was an excitedly awaited event as my eldest granddaughter had bought me a ticket for my Christmas present, along with one for her as this is her favourite show too. The weather was kind, although getting up at 5am was a little painful!

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The whole day was relaxed and we soaked up the atmosphere on the streets of London before watching the show. The story is well known and beloved of the millions of people who have seen it all over the world. The emotionally stirring music a powerful reminder of the transformation that is possible in our lives through love and forgiveness.

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The songs have been playing in my head all week. Doubtless I will go and see this again, it is compelling. The author of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo was himself no stranger to hardship and my favourite quote of his is this “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

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There are faces we may no longer see but they are alive in our memories, still loved, still missed, still spoken of with longing. There are new faces to learn, new people to love, new love to be experienced. One day more to make a difference, one day more to love and be loved, one day more to live life to the full.

So as Spring bursts into the end of winter I pray for all those I know and love that life will be kind to you, that you will know the love of family and friends, and that through that love you too will see the face of God. I leave you with this other lovely quote from Victor Hugo

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”

With Love 

Alice

 

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A Christmas message to wish everyone the blessings of the season.

Hello again,

Eight months since I last wrote anything here but I plan to get back to regular posts very soon. I wanted to mark this Christmas time with my thoughts, my thanks and my prayers to every one I know and to those who read my blog but whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.

The last months have seen us celebrate a family wedding, a birth and a graduation. As a family we have also shared our loved ones difficult times of ill health and anxieties in some of the problems life has thrown us.

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I am delighted to say that my beloved sister, who had been diagnosed with another small breast cancer, has had successful surgery this morning, (yes Christmas Eve!) and has returned home to enjoy Christmas with us. She will undergo further treatment in the New Year but her strong faith and courage has been an inspiration to us all and she has brought hope to so many others.

My brother, who suffered a mild stroke last week, is well on the road to a full recovery.  So, for a while, we can all relax and take time to appreciate the precious nature of life and our family relationships, with thankfulness for the care given by our NHS, and gratitude for the love and prayers of friends and family near and far.

I also want to say how deeply grateful I am for all those who have supported me this year, emotionally, financially and prayerfully. I feel incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful friends who are always there for me when I need them. I don’t know where I would have been without my sister and my two gorgeous daughters.

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My girls are an immense source of comfort, joy, fun and pride to me. Their love, care and concern, as well as the reality checks, sustain me through all that happens. Our love for each other  is shown in so many little ways as well as the big gestures. I never take our relationships forgranted and hope that they both know how much I love them.

I have been  privileged to share some of the heartaches and tears of others, friends who have lost loved ones, clients that I have counselled and friends whose lives have been turned upside down.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers as I write.

Reflecting on the year that is drawing to a close I find myself thinking that despite the shocking and often terrifying events that have shaken the world in the last year there is still much goodness about. The triumph of the human spirit over adversity keeps us humble.

Its our humanity that connects us and as one person to another there is more that unites us than divides us. In her talk last weekend my friend Elaine said that “… forgiveness is the key to the handcuffs of hate…” Easy to say and sometimes almost impossible to contemplate.

That’s why we celebrate the birth of Christ, He came to enable us to receive forgiveness and to teach us how to forgive others. As I said, easy to say but so hard when we’ve been wronged, betrayed, hurt. No one can make us do it but I can testify to how freeing it is when you no longer carry the bitterness around with you.

The following prayer came to my attention at the end of our nativity service, beautiful words and a hope for the future.

Loving Father

Help us to remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be your children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

Thank you for everything you have blessed me with. I wish all of you a peaceful and love filled Christmas, and pray that the year ahead will be kind to you.

With love

Alice20151206_221900-1

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A year on…. dear Amy

Today is the first anniversary of our beloved Amy’s untimely passing and somehow we have survived  without her physical presence. Though not here in person she is forever in our hearts and always in our thoughts. There have been some very  precious times where we have had chance to remember her in very special ways, these have sometimes been sad but always comforting as we have been together as her family.

Wishing she was still here but knowing that she lives on in her precious boys, her name emblazoned on the Portreath Gig boat and softly painted on the Pre- School play house. Oh Amy you are so loved and so missed and today is bittersweet as we all share our love for you and hold you tightly in our memories. To you our darling girl we send our love and gratitude for the blessing your life has been to us.

Amy And Me

 

I am posting again a copy of the poem my dear Dad wrote in 1991 which sums up what families are all about. I am so blessed to be part of this one.

The Family – By John Martin

Family feelings, family ties,

Family welcomes, family goodbyes

Family outings, family treats

Family greetings, family meets,

Family joys, family sorrows,

Family lendings, family borrows

Family quarrels, family strife

All these, a part of the pattern of life

Celebrating Amy 

Family visits, family walks,

Family trials, family talks,

Family deaths, family births,

Family sadness, family mirth,

Family secrets, family pride,

Family small, family wide

Family parties, family fun,

Something of interest for everyone

Mummy's Stones

All our love for Amy

All our love for Amy

 

Our Family Memory Day

Our Family Memory Day

Family engagements, family marriage,

Family push bike, family carriage,

Family homes, family gardens,

Family blame, family pardons,

Family heirlooms, family wealth,

Family sickness, family health,

Family music, family song,

Moving the family journey along

Fun on the Beach
Blessing the Amy Shaw

Family history, family tree,

Laid out for everyone to see;

But the family asset that strongest will prove

Is the wonderful feeling of true family love

Amy and her lovely boys

Sending our love to heaven

Sending our love to heaven

 We love you Ayms

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Hello at last….

It is so long since I wrote anything here, as the time went by I began to think I would never write again. But I’m back! I had fully intended to post something meaningful at Christmas  but that came and went in a mixture of busyness and missing loved ones no longer with us. We loved our beloveds with balloons on Christmas Day, a special candle on the table, sending them our love to heaven.

Amy's Christmas Candle

Amy’s Christmas Candle

All the I love you's

Sending our love to heaven

Sending our love to heaven

Then I thought –  New Years Day, a good day to blog something at the start of another year. That didn’t happen either as wham! I was taken down by a very nasty infection in my leg. For the last six weeks I have been battling back to health from a very vicious bug which needed much persuading to leave by strong antibiotics.

I feel as if I’ve missed out a bit on things but have decided that Spring is round the corner. Actually its shining bright yellow from the daffodils in my garden, the lighter mornings and evenings gradually chasing Winter on its way. As the year begins to gather pace we are looking forward to a family wedding and a new family arrival. The cycle of life continues and despite the heartaches of our losses we move with it.

Dave's orchid blooming again

Dave’s orchid blooming again

Breath of Spring

Breath of Spring

There have been so many traumatic and terrible events since the New Year began and so many people’s lives have been changed forever by violence and greed. It is hard to know how to respond to the images we have seen and yet we cannot remain unmoved by the horrors unleashed and the suffering that followed.

As the stories fade from the headlines and others take their place its easy to become immune to the tragedies that unfold, to believe that the darkness has finally won. I don’t have any easy answers. But I do know that the darkness can never overcome the light, the light can never be extinguished. That’s a promise.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5  NIV

So I hope I’m done with being poorly for now and look forward to what lies ahead, much of which is completely unknown and definitely better that way. I know of so many around me going through their own heartaches and battles and keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I wish everyone I know peace and freedom from fear and anxiety. I hope to share your journey in the months ahead but for now send you all my love.

With Love

Alice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last roses of summer….

Autumn has finally crept upon us and the trees are undressing with every breezy gust, dancing leaves swirling and settling in glorious gold and rusty carpets along the verges. But summer hasn’t quite given up yet and there are still plenty of blooms to be seen, hanging on to their summer show in borders, beds and pots.

I write this weekend as it is a very poignant anniversary. One year ago my beloved friend David left us on a grey October morning after an epic battle with cancer. I wrote several posts during that hair-raising, heart-stopping roller-coaster ride last year and paid my tribute to him on the evening of his death.

At the time it felt as if my heart had shattered into a million shards of sadness and I wondered how on earth I would pick them up and carry on. As those of you who read this blog regularly will also know, the last year of my life has been a continuing roller-coaster. I have experienced acute stress, another major bereavement and some health issues. My wonderful sister has been inspirational to so many since the very untimely loss of our beloved Amy, her daughter. I feel that loss too and write this post as a continued memorial to both Amy and David.

Stepping into my sister’s garden this week, which has now become a building site as the new annexe rises at the rear of the back garden, I was thrilled to see beautiful roses still flourishing in the flower bed dedicated to Amy.

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We are all still supporting one another and living very different lives now. I have managed to leave a great deal of stress behind and made a major life change, which I wrote about last month. We all seem to be living the “unforced rhythms of grace” and forging new pathways through the days and weeks that pass.

Determined to commemorate David’s life, and my memories of him, there were one or two special things I chose to mark the occasion today. David was such a kind, generous companion and friend, wrapping lots of little things into my life  that made such a difference. we only ever did lovely things, walks, concerts, meals and lots of laughter and ice creams. Its the loveliness I miss.

David was a wonderful antidote to the chaotic busy-ness of my 21st century life. He rarely used his mobile phone, he never seemed to rush anywhere but was never late, he was just about able to open up the computer,  never venturing further but he didn’t need to. His hospitality made even an afternoon together feel like a week’s holiday. I have umpteen little cards or notes he bothered to write and post or put through  my door when I was at work. All those little things …

So today I went to the cathedral and lit a candle for him and one for Amy, shedding a few tears for the missing of them, still so acute.

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After a short pause in the Lady Chapel I caught up with my daughter. Cappuccino and bagels were the order of the day, very restorative.

There was only one way I wanted to remember David this afternoon and that was with an ice cream. I am sure he would have approved of the choice so I took my darling grandchildren to one of our favourite ice cream shops in Hayle. It where he met them for the first time, treating us all to ice creams.

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These are for you Dave!

It isn’t all doom and gloom but there are the moments that sneak up on you, when you least expect it, then there’s the sharp pang and the remembering. So its been a bittersweet day, but our lives carry on and we carry our lost loved ones in our hearts and in our memories, trying to make sense of it all. There are new shoots and there is still so much goodness in life, still so much to be thankful for.

As autumn draws on I am looking ahead with hope and determination, still excited by the possibilities that lie before me. Ultimately the memories I have are precious and they are mine. Above all there is always love, love never ends, never dies and there are the continuing bonds with those who have gone before us.

With love

Alice

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To everything – turn, turn, turn….

As the summer comes to an end and the autumn shadows lengthen, nights grow longer, days shorten and children return to school, my life has taken a new direction. The roller-coaster journey continues and I have made some momentous decisions about what I do with this season of my life. I began this blog three years ago this month and as I look back over the last three years I am amazed at how much has changed, and how much I’ve been changed by events and circumstances, especially those out of my control.
I have changed jobs three times, been bereaved, been stressed and blessed, seen highs and lows, have loved deeply and been loved just as deeply, have laughed and cried at the things that have happened and somehow I can carry on.
Hitting the big milestone of 60 this year, and the traumatic life events of the past twelve months, made me realise that life was too short not to try and achieve long held dreams and aspirations. I needed to let go of the stress and responsibility of the role I had and change course completely. Setting my sails for a distant horizon, and leaving the security of a regular income to pursue a long held ambition, will see me join other students at our local college next week. I plan to train as a counsellor, having a sudden window of opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for so long.
Two years of hard work are ahead and I am hoping I will still have the mental capacity to cope with all the study but am focusing on my goal. Supporting myself in the process I have also become a freelance trainer, giving me some control over my time.
I have been so fortunate to have this chance and although a little nervous I am excited by the possibilities of meeting new people and facing new challenges. Life is all about seasons, beginning and ending in relentless succession. The trouble is we never know how long a season is going to be and don’t always recognise when one is ending and another starting. Sometimes we have to be helped to let go of something or someone in order for the new season to be ushered in.
I am not always very good at letting go and can hold on to things and people longer than is necessary. The title of this post is from the song by the Byrds. I used to love this  and my best friend and I used to sing it. It is based on words from the book Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The passage reminds us that there are times and seasons for everything, recognising that and going with the flow is going to be better for us than fighting it.
There are new seasons for my loved ones too and we have witnessed the most moving ceremony to name the local pilot gig boat “Amy Shaw” in honour and in memory of my beloved niece Amy. It is thrilling to see her being rowed out of the harbour and to see the pictures of her amongst the tall ships at Falmouth recently.My baby granddaughter ( not such a baby now) has begun her life at school and settled well so far.Family birthdays have been celebrated, albeit without the one we love so much and whose presence is so missed.
The seasons continue, autumn has never been my favourite time but despite the heartache that comes and goes I am actually looking forward to this one. With so many new beginnings I can’t wait to see how things work out.
In the meantime we continue to support each other as a family, like we always do, and I have my faith and hope to keep my head up when the going gets tough. In the words of the Byrds and the Bible “…and a time for every purpose under heaven”.With love

Alice

PS My apologies for the slightly strange formatting but I lost the entire post and had to retrieve it from an earlier draft. Hence the less than flowing look to the blog.

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