Monday 28 February 2011

Resting in Him

Just taking some time out for a breather today.  Feeling a little under the weather, so enjoying a looong lie in bed for a while!

Enjoying reading through some of the many words I write in my journal.  My journal is an A4 size page a day diary.  As I read through my Bible, I write down any verses that are particularly relevant to me that day. 

 Psalm 80 v 3 and 18 - "Restore us, O God, Cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!...Revive us, and we will call upon Your Name."

And I've been reading a little of Amy Carmichael - "Sometimes in prayer, it is difficult to find the words.  Often our Lord Jesus turned Bible words into prayer.  The Psalms were the prayer book of the Early Church.  It is ours still.  We cannot ever fathom the depths of this book."

Bishop Moule said that a hymn book was a good prayer book too.  They offer words to us when we have none of our own.

I am very grateful today that daily God restores us.  Nothing is impossible for Him. 

Isaiah 26 v 3-4  "You will keep him in PERFECT PEACE,
Whose MIND is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is EVERLASTING STRENGTH!!!"

I am feeling better already, I have read and prayed and thought and learned and blogged my way out of feeling 'under the weather', and ready to get up now and start that casserole that's waiting for my attention.  I work all day on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and sometimes part of Mondays and Fridays too, so I have got into a good habit of filling my slow cooker with good things on my home days, so I have something home-made to heat up when I am busy.  Tomorrow night, when I walk in the front door at around 6.30 pm, I'll be very glad that casserole is there!

Be encouraged, be strengthened, accept the perfect peace of God today my friend.

Friday 25 February 2011

Spring has sprung!

Here at Letters From Home, I have decided that enough is enough!  Outside it is cold and grey and rainy, but here at home spring has sprung!  I've been playing 'Spring' from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and all my soft lamps are glowing.  All my lovely spring flowers were inexpensive, and they are making me feel so happy all grouped together

by A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

Do you remember the lovely cotton yarns I purchased a few weeks ago?  I am enjoying crocheting a lovely spring-like blanket with them, and seeing how the different colours mix with each other.

One of the highlights of spring 2011 is going to be the Royal Wedding.  I am so excited.  My invitation hasn't arrived yet, but the postal system isn't what it used to be.  Surely it will come any day now!  Yesterday, we had our first glimpse of the royal couple on their first joint engagement.  Kate Middleton cracked open a bottle of champagne over a new RNLI lifeboat at Trearddur Bay on Anglesey.

Kate wore a fascinator with a spray of pheasant feathers, decorated with an insignia of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  It was designed by Vivien Sheriff Millinery, a small company based in rural Wiltshire, which makes all of its hats by hand.  They make such a lovely couple!

Today they are visiting their old university where they met - St Andrews - so I am looking forward to another helping of royal news later.

I don't normally watch much television, but my son noticed in the TV guide that the 1937 Anne of Green Gables film was on TV on Wednesday.  I was at work, but at the weekend I am going to watch it on iPlayer here.  You should be able to watch it for the next couple of days.

You can also watch Anne of Windy Poplars, so that's my weekend sorted!

Here in the UK, many schoolchildren have had a half-term holiday this week, which means a break for the teachers!  I was amused to read how the two schoolteachers at the school in Miss Read's Thrush Green spent their holiday.

"The first two weeks of the summer holidays were spent by Miss Watson and Miss Fogerty in recuperating from the rigours of the term.
They also managed to fit in a number of personal arrangements which had been postponed during term time.  Miss Watson had her hair permanently waved, one troublesome tooth extracted and two filled, and several shopping expeditions for new corsets and other underwear.
Miss Fogerty, who's hair was straight 'as a yard of pump water', as she said, dressed it in a neat bun, and washed it herself.  She did, however, need to visit the dentist who luckily only found one filling which needed attention.  Her modest shopping resulted in a new flowered overall for school use, a pair of light sandals, and a petticoat.  She was sorely tempted to buy a navy blue jersey suit, reduced in the summer sales, but.....she decided it would be imprudent to spend too lavishly."

I have nearly finished re-reading Gossip From Thrush Green, and I have enjoyed it immensely.  I laughed the other day at Lynn's comment to me about Miss Read's books.  She said :-
"There is a lot of not a lot happening and that is why I love her"
I couldn't have put it better myself.

Enjoy your weekend my friend.

Monday 21 February 2011

Everything stops for tea!

For the umpteenth time, I find myself re-reading "Gossip from Thrush Green" by one of my favourite writers, Miss Read.  Here are the first few paragraphs of the book..........

In far too many places in England today, the agreeable habit of taking afternoon tea has vanished.
'Such a shocking waste of time', says one.
'Much too fattening a meal with all that dreadful starch', says another.
'Quite unnecessary, if one has had lunch or proposes to eat in the evening,' says a third.
All very true, no doubt, but what a lot of innocent pleasure these strong minded people are missing!  The very ritual of tea-making, warming the pot, making sure that the water is just boiling, inhaling the fragrant steam, arranging the tea-cosy to fit snugly around the precious container, all the preliminaries lead up to the exquisite pleasure of sipping the brew from thin porcelain, and helping oneself to hot buttered scones and strawberry jam, a slice of featherlight sponge cake or home-made shortbread.

Taking tea is a highly civilised pastime, and fortunately is still in favour at Thrush Green, where it has been brought to a fine art.  It is common practice in that pleasant village to invite friends to tea rather than lunch or dinner.....people can set off from their homes in the light, and return before dark, except for the really miserable weeks of mid-winter when one would probably prefer to stay at home anyway.

Big sigh.........don't you just love those Miss Read books!  I'd love to move to Thrush Green, but apparently it's not real!  We can all dream though, can't we.

My favourite tipple is Redbush Tea, because it is naturally caffeine-free, and has less than half the tannin of black tea, and, what is more important, I love the taste of Redbush, although I love Earl Grey too, especially when it comes from Bettys.  I have already told you about their wonderful tea-rooms here.

I also enjoy making cakes, and my most basic, simple cake recipe, which I bake most weeks is an old recipe passed on to me by by mother-in-law, many, many years ago.  I double up this recipe for an 8" round cake tin, and I usually make 2 cakes at a time, so I quadruple everything!

8oz self-raising flour
quarter teaspoon of salt
4oz margarine
4oz sugar - I always just use granulated, or brown
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
6oz mixed dried fruit

1.  Place flour and salt in a bowl, rub in the margarine.

2.  Add the sugar and the fruit.  Beat together the eggs and the milk.

3.  Mix all together to make a soft consistency.

4.  Place mixture in a greased tin.

5.  Bake in a moderate oven (Gas mark 4) for 1 1/4 hours.

If I want to make a more moist version, I add an extra few ounces of margarine or butter.

I do all sorts of variations of this.  For a yummy chocolate chip cake, I add a few ounces of cocoa powder to the flour, and buy 3 bars of cheap supermarket chocolate, and roughly chop them up and add to the mixture instead of the fruit.

To decorate this for a birthday party, I can't be bothered with icing, so I cover the cake with melted white chocolate, and before it sets I cover it all in dolly mixtures and smarties, adored by adults and children alike in this house!

Enjoy your tea-time!  We really do need these special oases in our lives.

Friday 18 February 2011

Redeeming the time

I've been thinking about time, and how I could use it better, sparked off by reading Millie Meadowsweet's daily guide here.  You might have to scroll down a little bit, but believe me, you will enjoy the scroll!

I sometimes read the Flylady website, which can be helpful when organising house-cleaning time, but I take it with a pinch of salt. On working days, I don't manage to do much else except go to work! But I do use the slow cooker a lot, and cook a double amount of food on home days, so I have a home-made ready meal to pull out after work.

Lately I have struggled to keep up with everything, largely due to severe pain in my neck, which has been quite debilitating. But yesterday I went to an osteopath, and now I feel like I have been given my life back. The pain has completely gone, I feel like a new person! I woke up this morning and felt like dancing with joy! Yippee!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

In the Shadow

We must all go in the shadow sometimes.  The glare of the daylight is too brilliant; our eyes become injured, and unable to discern the delicate shades of colour, or appreciate neutral tints.  There are lessons that can only be learned in the shadows.  Seeds flourish and break through the soil in the shadows. 

"In the shadow of His hand has He hidden me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver He has hidden me."  Isaiah 49:2

I've taken some time away from 'Letters From Home', partly because of general busyness, but also because I needed some thinking time.  I've had decisions to make, thoughts to ponder upon, possible changes ahead to consider. 

Today, DH and I have had a day off work and went to Stratford upon Avon.  I love literature, drama and the theatre, and I love walking the streets of Stratford, the home of William Shakespeare.  It was a lovely sunny day, and we explored the recently opened refurbished RSC theatre, which took our breath away.

The main facade of the theatre remains, but inside it has been totally transformed.   There were images and quotes from Shakespeare projected onto the walls of the reception area.

The main stage is a very fluid space.  There is rigging for 15 metres above the stage, and a pit below the stage which is 7 metres deep, to allow for all kinds of amazing effects.  It is a thrust stage, rather like a catwalk.  The entire revamp has cost £112million.
There was a room with an exhibition called Squidsoup Why? where you can type a message into a computer and the words appear on a screen with other messages and swirl and twirl before your eyes.

The piece asks audiences to consider the ongoing influence and presence that Shakespeare has in the world today and to submit their thoughts. Messages then instantly become part of a 3D virtual sculpture made entirely of text based submissions, resulting in a running commentary, a series of instant snapshots of what people feel about the place, the event, their experience. As the sculpture moves of its own volition, the text can be re-read by audiences in any order.

We then went out into the sunshine and explored a little.  Here is a statue of Lady Macbeth.

And this is a picture of Ellen Terry, a Coventry-born actress who famously played Lady Macbeth.

(Google Images)

She was from a great acting dynasty, and her great nephew was Sir John Gielgud. 

This is Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptised, and where he is buried.  It dates from 1210, and is built on the site of an old Saxon monastery.  It is Stratford's oldest building, and one of England's most visited parish churches.

And here is the River Avon, which flows through Stratford.  Can you see the quirky art gallery in the background, which is housed in a narrowboat?  We love going there and imagining we are off on a voyage!

 "He leads me beside the still waters.
  He restores my soul;
  He leads me in the paths of righteousness
  For His Name's sake."  From Psalm 23.

Monday 7 February 2011


I spent the weekend in London, with family, and on Sunday morning went to church and heard a sermon on repentance.  The story of Jonah is a good example of how repentance can turn your life around, and here is the sweetest version of the Jonah story - or I should say history - told by the cutest little girl.  Enjoy!

My favourite book on repentance is: "Repentance, The Joy-Filled Life" by Sister Basilea Schlink.  She was living in a badly bombed Germany with few resources, during the war, but it was important for her to repent for Germany's cruel treatment of other nations during the war, especially the Jews. She felt the temptation to marry like other young women did. Instead she gave her mission the first priority, and so she became a Sister of Mary.  She gathered a group of women around her, many of which had lost fiance or husband.

She says:  "Should we not ask for this gift (of repentance) more than all others?  It brings divine life, true life.  Hearts that can cry and rejoioce are alive.  Only a dead person is incapable of giving any reaction.....He cannot express his joy, and he is unable to weep.  However, a person who lives in contrition and repentance has the characteristics of life.  He weeps over the one thing that is worth weeping over, since it spells death and terrible judgement for us.....Yes, he weeps over sin....whoever weeps in repentance...weeps aright. 

"Yes, those who repent are truly alive...they are grieved over their sins now, so that they can turn over a new leaf and begin to lead a new and a different life...To be spiritually alive is to live in repentance..."

I like the way that Basilea Schlink does not see repentance as a once and for all act, but as a daily action, enabling us to keep short accounts with God.  She says it is the foundation of our life, because it is the only proper attitude we can have before God.  Jesus called the seven churches in Revelation to repent, because it is the way to the new life, and with repentance the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and we can experience life in that Kingdom today.  What a great salvation we are blessed with!

Years ago, when I was at Bible College, George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation came to speak to us.  He quoted freely from Basilea Schlink, and urged us to get hold of and read as much of her writings as we could, so I have been collecting her books ever since.

We spent Saturday night in a hotel on the banks of the Thames, and went for a little walk before church yesterday.

We stayed here...

We ate lots of these between us all!

Krispy Kreme Donuts!  We even had a Krispy Kreme hat each to wear!  It was a lot of fun, and felt like a party!  It was a really lovely weekend, didn't want it to end!

Last week, DH and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, I received some beautiful flowers.....

And we had a lovely meal together...

We didn't go out, as we both had a very early start to work in the morning, but it was a lovely evening, and I lit some little red candles that I had bought for our anniversary last year, but hadn't lit them last year as we were staying in a hotel in Ross on Wye, and we didn't want to set off the smoke alarms and evacuate the hotel!

Do have a look at Jewel's blog Eyes of Wonder, as she has been posting this week, which is a cause for celebration, and her writing is always wonderful, warm, homely, inspirational and full of love.

Have a good week my friend.

Friday 4 February 2011


A  friend posted this on Facebook recently, and it made me smile, but it also made me question how much time I spend writing posts or generally hopping about on different blogs etc, without actually spending much time with Jesus? 

When I do spend time in God's presence, which is hopefully very often (!) I do find that my priorities take a seismic shift, and God very gently reminds me, as only He can, of what I really need to spend time on, and who I need to spend time with.  In fact, time spent with God is actually a timesaver, because He shows me anything I might be wasting time on, that could be better spent in another direction. 

How marvellous that He is interested in the big things in my life, as well as the minutiae of daily cares and thoughts. 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry
EVERYTHING to God in prayer.

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