Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Twelve for 12/12/2012

Freezing fog rolled in last night and covered all of outside.  In the part of the country I originate from, we called this kind of klinging frost "Hoarfrost".  The day was overcast, the cold causing the frost to hang all day.  I took these photos in afternoon.

And to commeorate this unique day in history: (That twelve-twelve-twelve thing!) I'm posting twelve of the photos I took today.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

God Romance-Rainbows and Promises

God's colourful token of covenant
On Monday, 2 July 2012, the BBC aired a story on The One Show.  It was a short film in which scientist and presenter, Marty Jopson, put forth the question, “Where is the end of the rainbow?”  I have tried to find a link to post on the story, but couldn’t find one. 
                        Of course, the Irish have said for years upon years that if you can find the end of the rainbow, you will find a pot of gold.  Okay, so we know that where the rainbow ends is actually an illusion.  But, what Dr. Jopson revealed was astonishing—at least it was to me. 
                        Dr. Jopson created a rainbow by using a sprinkler system.  The demonstration created the familiar and expected arch.  But then he stood in on the black-top with a hose, spraying in a section.  The reason one never finds the end of a rainbow is because there is no end of the rainbow; a rainbow is in fact a Circle!
                        Christians and Jews look at a rainbow and see God’s promises. 
“Behold, I establish My covenant or pledge with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creatue that is with you—whether the birds, the livestock, or the wild beast of the earth along with you, as many as came out of the ark—every animal of the earth.  I will establish My covenant with you:  Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood; neither shall there ever again be a flood to destroy the each and make it corrupt.  And God said, ‘This is my token of the covenant (solemn pledge) which I am making between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I set My bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.’”  Genesis 9:9-13.
                        As I watched the show and saw the water refract the light into colours, which formed a perfect circle, those scriptures came to my mind.  But another type of ring came into my mind—an engagement ring.  Through light and colour, God was pledging Himself to mankind; betrothing us to Him. 
                        Because of these precious words that are echoed in the Christian Bible and the Torah, each time I see part of a rainbow, I am reminded of the whole circle.  I am reminded of God’s Kingdom.  I don’t see the whole circle, but I know its there.  I can’t see heaven, but I know heaven exists, though hidden.  I cannot see Father God’s face—but I can see His ring of commitment to me.  I don’t see rainbows everyday—but I know the potential to see them exists. 
                        Dr. Jopson stood in the midst of a rainbow created by light and mist—surrounded by a symbol of promise.  Though unseen, I also stand in the circle of God’s light, love and promise.  I stand there not seeing it, but believe because of faith.  And then, in the midst of the trials, I get a short glimpse of shimmer, shine and beauty that is the rainbow of God’s faithfulness. 
                        So, although I can’t find the link to post with this, and my description is unscientific, as well as limited, I shared the main point of the film--a rainbow has no end--because it is a CIRCLE.  And I’ve shared how it affected my heart and mind--God's love has no beginning and no end--because He is eternal. 
                        I hope you see lots of rainbows soon.
        Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sewing class progress

          Today is sunny, which I know will please "Floss".  Over twenty-give years ago on this date, another woman was in labour and giving birth to my youngest step-daughter.  I am grateful that "Floss's" Mom has not been selfish, but willingly shared "Floss" with me.  Happy Birthday Wonderful Girl!
        So, today is the last day of our sewing class.  I shall miss the ladies and learning new skills to improve my sewing.  I must admit, the two-and-a-half hours go speedily each week.  
       The new schedule for classes that begin the middle of January come out today as well.  Great anticipation fills my little heart; as I want to see what comes next!  If possible, I may want to take two classes if I can.  
On the hanger
       Please forgive my vanity in thinking that you might want to see the final product of this class.

       This is a very simple frock; the skills learned in it's making are foundational on which to build.  It's rather like a musician learning to play scales and read music before he/she plays a song, or writes a symphony.  

       What I really like is that the dress actually fits better than most others I've made, because the dress is made to fit my exact measurements.

      Week before last, as I was basting in the sleeves, I showed the instructor my work.  As she inspected, she remarked: "Hurry and get a car!  I want you on my team."  That is so encouraging!

A satisfying fit. 
         There is a hunch that I will be wearing this dress a lot because it is so comfortable and feels flattering. 

        Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Gingerbread Village

This autumn, a young man named David came to vist our Church.  His story of escape from Sudan as a young man reminded me of the amazing power of grace, empowerment and redemption.  

David is now in England, obtaining a Masters Degree with the hope of returning to the new nation of South Sudan and working with the government of build a strong infrastructure.  Currently he and friends minister to over 900 children from his home village, which is almost inaccessable.  

My heart was tugged--what could I do to help him?  

The ageless question from thousands of years previous came softly to my mind; "What is that in your hand?"  Like Moses, God puts things into our hands to enable us to affect others positively for the kingdom.  Christmas was coming.  Gingerbread houses...a beautiful thing to make and a lovely way to decorate for Christmas.  My step-daughters had told me I could easily sell lots of them.  So, the plan unfolded in my mind.  Bake a gingerbread village of 10 houses and sell them.  And my current progress? --two houses now assembled, decorated and delivered; with four orders outstanding.  So I'm praying the Lord will help me complete the 10.  

The pre-fab factory is open
I've baked two batches now..which produces between two and three houses.  I'm still figuring out how thick to roll it for the best result.  Getting the roof too thick makes it too heavy for the rest of the little building.  

Oh, and because I had dough left over, I was able to bake one gingerbread man fo the Maverick.  

Jelly beans and smarties!

       All the houses are the same size, but obviously, each one is going to end up unique because of the goodies I put on the outside.  
       Believe it or not, I spent about fifteen to twenty minutes sorting sultanas (raisins made from white grapes) from candied citrus peel and regular raisins.  And sections of chocolate make great windows and doors.  
       I do try to put on a variety of sweets to get different textures, flavours and colours.  

       I found a couple of small tins of tube-shaped biscuits/cookies, to look a bit like logs.  Crispy, light and a nice foil to the intense spice of the ginger. 

Fruit jellies and tube-shaped luxery biscuits.
       When royal icing gets thick and heavy, it will slide and look like snow hanging/falling off the house.  It dries pretty hard, and makes it looklike the house is in a snow-laden country. 

Funny, but I get excited to see what each house will look like once it is finished, because I never know when I start.  

Well, I wanted to make a quick post, as more days have passed than I would like between posts.  

The other benefit is that I get to use the oven to warm up the flat a little more than when using the central heating.  

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well.  Now that I've made this posting, I'm going to work on more Christmas presents.  

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"   

Monday, 26 November 2012

More from the kitchen...

       Life has been a little busy since the first of November...and it's about to get busier.  

Many a year have I walked with My Jesus.  Over and again the principle I've experienced is, the more time I spend with Jesus, meditating on His word, the more I seem to accomplish and the less tired I am in body and mind.  

2011 Christmas Ginger Bread House
On 17th November, St. Mary's Langley held thier annual Christmas Fayre.  Last year I contributed a Gingerbread house.  People were surprised by it, and there were lots of compliments.  The children wanted to eat it.  People paid to "Guess the weight."  The winner, a lovely retired grandmother, gave the edible house away to a young Mum with five children.  Her generosity touched my heart.  

With last year's gingerbread being a hit, I was asked if I would be willing to make gingerbread men this year.  I dug out the recipe, which I found on the internet. 

A Gingerbread Man Army
For a gingerbread house, most people use a paper template and use a dinner knife to cut out the gingerbread.  For gingerbread men a cutter is needed.  I had a tiny one, and I didn't think I wanted to do that much work.  By searching on the internet, I found what I wanted at Robert Dyas  The desired item is a six inch long gingerbread man cutter.  My Darling Husband, aka "The Maverick," was kind enough to go into town and buy it for me whilst I was at work.  A big thank you goes to him.  The batch of dough made 48 gingerbread men, plus scraps.   

I am going to have to find an icing recipe I can use with liquid food colouring, as the liquid makes the royal icing runny.  It also takes longer to set.  Even adding more icing/powdered surgar doesn't make the continuity of the icing stiff enough.  But everyone at the Fayre was very happy with the result and they nearly sold out!  
Notice the steam coming off the loaf?  Its just out of the oven

For my birthday, "The Maverick" kindly went down to the local chippy and bought me fish and chips.  We had discussed going out for dinner, but I was tired after my sewing class and didn't feel like going back out again.  Especially since I had an infection in both ears.  Thankfully it wasn't an inner ear infection.    But on Tuesday, I decided I would cook something a bit different for dinner.  Ingredients:  Fish and potatoes.  Result:  A tuna Loaf with Roast potatoes.   It was a nice twist on a familiar meal.  The recipe is in a Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  If anyone wants the recipe, send me an e-mail and I'll send it.  
We nine with the birthday (fruit) cake.

Early in November, "Jon-David" came over with his family to help us celebrate birthdays: "The Maverick's" is 22 October, mine 19th November.  So on 6th November, I cooked a nice chicken dinner, share with "The Aussie Family"  and "The Colnbrook Crew".   From the expressions on our faces here, we had a grand time.  When "Techphil", "Jon-David" and "The Maverick" get together, teasing and laugther are guarenteed to happen.  And so it was on 6th November.

Okay...this blog isn't going in chronological order.  I'd originally intended to post a couple of photos for the night, with little or no text.  But, hey, once I get started, I just can't help myself!  :-)
Cake before cutting

However, 6th November is related to the next photo.  "Jon-David" brought over a big bag of apples from his dad.  They were lovely, large cooking apples.  I immediately made a crumble--even though we still had birthday cake. 

     With so much going on, the bag of apples sat in the corner, waiting patiently until I could pay them attention.  This past Sunday I had to cook the other apples before they went off.  So I peeled them and got out another recipe.  I used two big ones for this cake:   
After cutting.
Instead of putting the apple in the middle, I made it like an upside down cake.  

If it seems like I'm doing more baking, then you would be right.  And why?  Because although we keep the heat turned down, baking is a great reason to fire up the oven and stay warm in the kitchen.  :-)  And my husband likes it when I bake.  Tomorrow Flapjack is on the docket. 

This evening I prepared two cottage pies for tomorrow's Alpha Course.  I have applesauce from Sunday's cooking; that will be used in a cake for tomorrow night's dessert.  

So, now that's I've stimulated your appetites, I'll sign off for now.  

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"   

Sunday, 11 November 2012

My Story from "Floss's & Harry's" Wedding

It has happened more than once.  What, one asks?  I sit down to write one thing for my blog and end up writing something else.  It’s now middle of the afternoon (16:11) and I finally got the first post of about 750 words posted.  Gee whizzz!  What took me so long? 
First, check the e-mails.  Then I got side-tracked with following up something on Facebook; followed by a delightful short chat (also) on FB .  I suddenly got hungry and developed a pounding headache.  So I took a short break to take some aspirin and let the head-ache fad away.  Four layers of clothing later, so that I’m not too cold to write, and having turned on the heating, I have set my mind to the task.
Back-side firmly planted in chair, and gritted determination to write “The Wedding Post.”
Front of Wedding Card
Friday, 2nd November was blessed by bright blue, cloudless skies.  “The Maverick” and I smiled with thanksgiving to God, as we had prayed for clear and beautiful weather for the day.  I went to the shower and “The Maverick” and “Bellman” went to the shops to buy black shoe polish.   
After my shower, I spent about 90 minutes creating a card for “Floss & Harry.”  We wanted to give them a specially created card to commemorate the day.
I'd been out of the shower for a while when "The Maverick" and "Bellman" returned from the shopping trip.  "Bellman" received instruction in the fine art of shoe-shining, whilst Grandad got busy looking for his tuxedo.  
About noon-time, "Mr Biz" came with his other four boys.  Besides delivering "Bellman's" wedding clothes, "Mr. Biz" had charge of "Jame-oh", "Beau" and "Cookie."  The younger ones were already dressed, so they just needed to keep clean whilst waiting to leave for the church. 
So, by 12:30 pm, we were all dressed and ready to go to the church.  The wedding was scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm (14:00 hrs) and we were in the church by 1:15 pm (13.15).  In the fourth row from the front, I shared the pew with “Beau”, “Bellman” and “Cookie”. 
Earlier in the week, I’d shared with “Bellman” an experience of learning to meditate.  It was the early 1980’s and I was standing in the post office, waiting for my turn to buy stamps.  Mentally, I was slowly repeating John 16:27:  “For the Father Himself [tenderly] loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from the Father.”  As I rolled these words around in my mind, changing the emphasis on each word as I did so, suddenly, my heart was filled with absolute assurance, belonging and love by Father God. 
Meditation on the days of “Floss’s” wedding, would have served me well.  Don’t ever think that satan sees a church and says, “Not allowed in there!”  He sneaks right in and waits to pounce on any vulnerable moments.  Had I been diligent to ground myself in God’s love early in the day, it is highly likely that I would have instantly responded differently when he attacked.
Daughter "Floss" with Father
The organist began playing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus.  Her hand snugly inside the crook of “Maverick’s” elbow, “Floss” floated down the aisle, looking like the princess she is; both father and daughter had misty eyes, filled with strong emotion.  After the vicar’s warm welcome we sang “Lord of the Dance”. 
Reverend Saunders led “Harry” and “Floss” through the exchanging of vows and rings.  I stood in the third row, viewing my beautiful step-daughters, Father-of-the-Bride, and Mother-of-the-Bride, strange emotions overwhelmed me.  Satan threw a bucket of negative thoughts my direction:  “You have no place here; you didn’t birth these daughters.”  “You don’t belong.” 
Suddenly hatred of my own barrenness, jealously of “Maverick’s” ex-wife, resentment came rushing at me like a wave from Hurricane Sandy.  Caught with my emotional and spiritual shield down, I got carried away. 
When orphans are adopted, they go through a time of wanting to deny "sonship" and access to parents by birth children and/or other previously adopted children.  They want to claim the new parents totally to themselves.  (I’m sure there is a counselling term for this, but I have no idea what it is.)  My emotions mirrored this feeling; I wanted to push “The Maverick’s” ex-wife out of the church and pull the three lovely young women into my arms, yelling, “These are MY daughters, not yours.”
These emotions numbed my mind, and I couldn’t seem to let go of them.  I needed to talk to my husband. 
Yet, a motherly awareness wrestled against the tide of Satan’s tactical lies.  As the bride and groom took their vows, and I watched “Lacy” and “Walley”, I saw tears spilling down their cheeks; love gushing as they watched their baby-sister married.  Quickly I picked up my bag, rummaged around and pulled out a packet of tissues.  I passed them forward and the girls damped away the potentially make-up damaging tears.  After a few minutes, they mimed back their thanks.
Reverend Saunders’s message to the congregation and the bridal couple began with a joke.  That broke the tension inside me and I listened as he talked of the importance the church—Christ’s body—supporting marriage and family. 
After more traditional wedding music, ie. Jerusalem and  Recessional-Wedding March, we left the wooden pews and found our way outside. 
Once outside, my heart still felt bruised.  Prayers lifted up to My Heavenly Father.  “God, these are simply emotions—hate, anger, frustration, jealously.  I don’t want anything to keep me from Your Presence.  How can I love this family if I hold onto these emotions?  Oh Jesus, these feelings are normal and common to every person; experiencing them isn’t wrong.  But I can’t keep them—because letting them linger and grow is wrong.  Help me.”
Camera clicking, trying to be right behind the photographer and in a good position for capturing candid photos, my brain and hands were at work.  Equally my spirit was listening for assurance, forgiveness, truth.
“God places the solitary in families and give the desolate a home in which to dwell;...” The promise of God (Psalm 68:6) flitted through my brain.  The power of those words was softened by the emotional fog I was groping my way through. 
I found comfort that thought my emotions were in a wretched state, I had hope and trust in God’s mercy.  Long ago I learned that God knows the secrets of my heart—my secret sins and my secret desires.  Our iniquities, our secret heart and its sins [which we would so like to conceal even from ourselves], You have set in the [revealing] light of Your countenance.” Psalm 90-6. 
Back of Bride's dress
While sitting in the people carrier to go to the reception, I kept praying.  I so wanted to get “The Maverick” aside and talk to him.  But during the ride, I tried to engage with the boys, telling them how proud of them I was.  All of the small children and babies in “Our Clan” had remained quiet during the wedding ceremony.  The same could not be said of other “under-fives” who had accompanied their parents to the wedding. 
Finally, we arrived at the venue for the reception.  Finding my way to the ladies room first separated me from the wedding group.  It took some doing, but I finally found "The Maverick."  Away from the receptoin room, at a small table, I explained my feelings to my Darling Husband.  He said he felt the same—like being on the outside looking in.  This was astonishing, as the Bride and her siblings are HIS children.  But by having his understanding and comfort, the truth of love broke the heaviness and I could join the rest of the party and enjoy the evening. 
I had only been standing in the room about 10 minutes, chatting with another guest, when “Lacy C.” found me.  She asked me if I was all right.  Very quickly I told her how I was feeling.
“Don’t be stupid.”  She chides me.  “You do belong.  You have a place in this family.  We all love you.  You’re a second mom to us.  I couldn’t see my life without you in it.”
Her words brought such healing, acceptance and love. 
As if God wanted to make sure I got the message. “Mr. Biz”, “Lacy’s” husband came up to me about 20 minutes later and also made sure I was okay. 
I know if I had not immediately cried out to God with my confession and my prayer for mercy, I would not have been positioned to receive the blessing of my step-daughters, their spouses and our grandchildren. 
That’s my story of “Floss’s & Harry’s” wedding day. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”