Friday, 27 December 2013

"Though You Slay Me" (featuring John Piper)

Though You Slay Me. 2013 in Review.

Its 9pm. The blue sky is ebbing away to the dusk that creeps over. I glance out the window to see the hints of pink and tinges of gold on the airbrushed cloud cover. There is a sword shape in the centre of the clouds and the very sight of it, ministers to me peace.
I cannot help but reflect on 2013 staring at the setting sun, and know in my heart, that its like a symbolic picture of my year, of our year.

As I bowed my knee, late one night, in the darkness of the lounge on the 1st of January this year, I had a prayer on my heart. I prayed for God to move us, to shake us, to let us know Him in a way such that we had never known Him before.

Did He do that? Oh all and more. I could go into hours about the circumstancial evidence of Him there, the highs and lows, the moments that took my breath away, the moments that tears poured down my cheeks. There were many of both. And in the midst of it, God had our attention. What began in our home, was revival.

Bit by bit, day by day, God began to strip through the things that held us back from Him. The areas of our lives where His best, was not ours for the knowing. The parts of our lives where sin held us from His presence, where security upon earthly things, needed to be surrendered.

Sam and I began praying like we never had before. The Word of God became something we looked to as a means to walk through each day with wisdom. What we really discovered, was how utterly nothing we are, without Him. And how worthy He is, of our all.

Ive had many nights where I have woken in the wee hours of the morning, with a burden to just cry out to Him, because I knew my heart needed Him, more than sleep.
Ive woken many mornings, to find Sam up and gone to work ahead of me, his open Bible showing me the meditation of his day, and how many times, a verse has been sitting there with my name on it. Signed God.
Ive had moments where Ive reckoned with my deepest fears, and found that I could stare into the very face of them, and know God is greater.
And Ive had times when Ive realised how unworthy I am of His love, and fallen to my knees, receiving a love that demands my all.

And its been worth our Sam quotes "We wont be in heaven more than five minutes, when we will be wishing we had loved more, forgiven more, given more...".

For all the resolutions you could make for 2014, can I exhort you to make one, you wont regret for a moment: to allow His revival into your soul. Dare I say, though He may slay you, yet you will know what it is to live.

"My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all"

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Psalm 37

"Wait for the Lord" Waiting for God is a revealing place. Its not a comfortable place. I like to assume to believe its a nice place of meandering about in peaceful valleys while God prepares to take me onto new ground. The truth is, its a place of tensile holding. Its a place of yielding. Its a place of stance ready, eyes fixed, ears attune anticipation of His voice giving your 'go' command. And often, on the lower plains of our perspective, that battle can seem far too imminent than is comfortable. The darts start coming, the strikes are firing out, and while were standing there, waiting for that command, things start falling. A shot lands centre upon my pride. OUCH. I whince and cry out "did you see that God?" "Yes" I look up at Him again for a little reassurance. I brace myself and another comes "whack". I let out a cry. I look up at His face again, feeling a small measure of distrust. "Fear of man, Fleur, its not going to hold" I grip my sword tighter and steady my gaze. I grit my teeth and growl through my clenched jaw. "Im ready now God, and theyre drawing near". "Wait". He says. I glance up to Him, reminding Him how much the battle has already cost me. How much there is at stake. How small I really am. He whispers to me "Come here". I scurry up the bank, eager to get further from the battle, eager to feel safe, and arrive tense and weary at His side. I want to plead and reason, but His face says it all. With a glistening twinkle of joy, He summons me to His side.. "take a peek from up here". I lie down beside His large frame and peer over the edge of the hilltop. From His perspective, the enemy doesnt seem so fearsome. In fact, what I see represents chaos. I look up to Him, confused. I remind Him "theyre still capable of much damage, even in that state!". He loving whispers "they cant touch you". I remind him of the parts of me which still feel raw and throbbing. "I never put them there". I stare at my broken pride, my selfishness, my fear of others.. it hurt to lose them, but I realise I feel lighter for it. And then a giggle in me rises up. I am sure that although I have no idea, how, that this battle is ours to win. I place my hand in His and grip tightly. With affection I stand and say "say when God, and I will charge". I look at my sword. I glance upon the handle and suddenly notice a word engraved across its handle. WORD OF GOD. How had I not noticed it? I start noticing the other parts of my armour and the words engraved there. RIGHTEOUSNESS. FAITH. TRUTH. GOSPEL OF PEACE. SALVATION. I whisper to Him "How Lord do I fight with these?". He whispers back... "speak my Word, stand in My name, believe upon My character, hear My voice, hold fast to My promises". I look back at the enemy before me. They are right at the banks edge and still my God has not even a flinch of terror upon His face. I watch them start to scurry up the hill and He gives me a nod. "NOW". I stand. My knees strengthen under my weight. My arms feel strong to bear the sword. My head lifts high and a voice, not familiar to me, a song, rises up from within me. "Worthy is the lamb". Suddenly the enemy starts scrambling. His defeat is evident. He retreats and scrambles, screaming and covering his ears "No no no, she believes it". And as fast as they seemed to draw before me, they are now gone, nothing is left upon the plain beneath me but a stir of dust where they dared to assemble and the broken pieces of my life, which needed to go. I look up at Him and smile, I want to shout a victory cry.. and then I notice a tear upon his cheek. It startles me to see it. Havent we won? I look down at where He looks. The settling dust reveals a few hurting people on the ground below. I hadnt noticed them there before and suddenly I am broken with Him. I run down to them and wrap my arms around them. They are innocent. They are broken. They are mistreated. They are helpless. "Why did I not see them before?", I cry to myself I look up at Jesus once more. The tenderness in His eyes bears upon me. I realise the battle had never been about me. It had never been for me. It had been for the lives of these. And I know, that to "wait for the Lord" means so much more than we might ever fully understand. He is our deliverer. He is our redeemer. He is our lamb. We march forward together. There are more battles to come, we know, but there is a land before that is ours, and its peg marked already 'Salvation'.

Monday, 9 December 2013

...and he was limping

I love the story of Jacob and how he wrestled with God. (Genesis 32) I love that he dared to wrestle with God. I love that even though wrenched in the hip, that he says to God “I will not let you go unless you bless me". And right there on the spot, he is blessed. His pain isnt taken away, his circumstances arent dramatically changed, God does something far deeper. He changes his name. From Jacob, Deciever, to Israel "Prevailed with God" or "Wrestles with God" or some versions say "God rules" He gets up and walks on... "and he was limping". Pain and brokenness are often a reminder of whose we are, and to whom we belong. I was reminded of the quote by Amy Carmichael "If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love". With every step Jacob took, a pain in his side, reminded him of his moment of reckoning with himself, and with God. Of the night in which the Lord blessed him. Might you and I have bumped into him, on that journey, limping and looking no doubt rough, I bet we might have judged him with thoughts such as: 'you got what you deserve' or 'life hasnt been good to you'. Yet Jacobs whole demeanor is changed. He walks in humility, he walks in truth and his heart cares only for what the Lord now thinks of him “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Trials and struggles in life are to be expected. But Ive found, that the biggest trials arent in fact with other people, they are with myself and God. Yet in the midst of trial, when we are willing to hold onto God for dear life and say "I will not let you go until you bless me", we find that there is a promise, a grace, a strength, that is imparted to us. That grace does not make us swifter and greater, it takes us into humility. Dont rush to ask God to remove the pain in your life. Dont begrudge the limp. Dont press for God to remove the trial that yields His best in your life.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Calvary Love

Calvary Love by Amy Carmichael If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I find myself taking lapses for granted, "Oh, that's what they always do," "Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that," then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, "Just what I expected" if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have "a heart at leisure from itself," then I know nothing of Calvary love. If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love. That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God. Amy Carmichael, "Calvary Love,"

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Letter from Aunty Pam

I had to share this letter from our Aunty Pam to all the great neices and nephews here in NZ.. so precious!!! Last night Tim shared with us that he wants to be baptised. This letter seemed so timely and such a wonderful reminder that age has no bearing on a heart genuine for Jesus. ......... I have a question for you. Can anyone guess who Is going to celebrate her 100th Christmas this year? ? ? Yes of course it is Grandad Derek's Mummy, And Uncle Peters and Aunty Pam's too. Just think of it. Great Nanny Kitty has ONE HUNDRED CHRISTMASES TO REMEMBER. Who would love to have one hundred Christmas puddings. ? Or hang up one hundred stockings for Santa ? Or one hundred presents to unwrap? Oh boy, that would be fun wouldn't it. ? Just think now! Jesus was born about two thousand years ago.( that's a lot older than great Nanny Kit ) so how many Christmas presents has He had I wonder! Did you know that Great Nanny Kitty gave Him the VERY BEST present He EVER wanted? Yes she did! So what do you think it was then? Anyone know? I can give you a clue. Sarah and Holly know. Yes you guessed it. It was HERSELF. She had read the Holy Bible , believed it was Gods own inspired WORD and then obeyed Him. She did what it said she was to do. That's how she came to give HERSELF back to her creator God. The first thing she knew she must do is to LOVE God with all her heart, mind , body and soul,AND to love everyone else as much as she loved herself. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if everyone kept that one ONE of the first things God tells us to do is to make a public statement, TELL OTHERS that we love Him , by being Humbly obedient and being baptised by Emerson just as Jesus showed us. He was humble before His heavenly Father too. That seems a funny thing to have to do, doesn't it? Being baptised.? But you see God wants us to be like Himself, so He showed us how to be . By following Jesus Christ His Sons example and being humbly obedient and full of love for God and for everyone else. Jesus was baptised (in the river Jordan by His cousin John) and when He came up out of the water GOD SPOKE these words." This is my beloved SON in whomever I am we'll pleased." Now when Great Nanny Kitty was baptised God became her heavenly Father and she became His daughter and He was "well pleased". He is well pleased with Sarah and Holly too. So great Nanny has had one hundred Christmases so far and we think that is a lot don't we? Well, guess what. ! She is really only 100 years YOUNG because God has promised her ETERNAL LIFE. yes she has ONLY lived a hundred into it ,the very beginning of forever and ever. As you open your presents this Christmas thank your Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of all. THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST HIS SON. I just want to wish you all a " very happy Christmas " and send this little story for you to remember and remember to thank our Heavenly Father for loving us so much that He wants ALL of us to have eternal life through faith in His Son Jesus . We can all live longer than one hundred If we become children of God.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I knew you...

I asked my son if I could share this little story with you. Its so easy to want to lecture children. To sit and advise them what they should/ shouldnt do. Its easy to listen to them monologue and answer with semi interested "hmm, oh wow" and its easy to fire out a pile of orders with a pleasant half hearted tone of "Im present, but just". But lately Ive been daring to do something different. Actually, it started after my last post, the post about how the lies we believe affect our behaviour. And in particular it started with a once again, angry little man, and a paddy at the playground. Upon getting him home, I sat for a moment and thought "whats really going on?". I prayed "God give me wisdom".. and then a thought came to me. A God thought: Why not take some time to know. I made him a milo and sat him in the room with me. And then I sat with a piece of paper, and a pen, and I dared to ask him some questions. What were you feeling when you lost your temper? When did you start feeling that way? What upsets you most? What makes you feel loved? Little by little, we unpeeled back the layers to find a hurting wee heart that was feeling left out of his brothers lives. A need to feel accepted, masked by always somehow pushing them away. I wrote down all he said, word for word. He looked at me part way through and asked me "what are you writing?". I told him "all the things you tell me, they are important, I dont want to forget a thing". He beamed at me. I finished off the session with one big question that I dared to ask. I swallowed, took a breath, smiled and said "sweetheart, if you could change anything about mummy, one thing about me, what would it be.. it can be anything you like and I wont be angry, or hurt, I will be glad you are helping me to be a better mummy". He thought for a moment then tenderly replied: "I wish you'd spend more time with me". I thanked him and smiled, wrote it down and let him run off to play. How funny it is, that I spend all day with the kids, I homeschool them, yet what they want is time with me. I didnt have to justify what they meant. They dont want 'teacher' mummy, or 'training' mummy, 'homemaking' mummy, 'listening' mummy... they want the mummy that proves that they are more important than the other things. The mummy that comes alive after 7pm when the house is quiet and the kids are down. The mummy that makes them a priority. The mummy that knows them. Oh gulp! I didnt even have to pray when it came to said hurting little man, where to find that time. God had shown me months ago. He is the only one that wakes up earlier than 6am in our home. All the other 3 will happily sleep gone 7am, and later if I let them.. but he wakes the moment the sun peeks through. And when he wakes, he hums, wriggles and wills the world to wake up too. I get up 5:20am 2 mornings a week for bootcamp, so my sleep in days, 7am.. are treasured. But here I knew God was asking me "would you get up early for him too?". What God really asking me was - Would you get up early for me? Because my time is His time. And He was showing me that I had a precious window of opportunity 3 mornings a week, to make this little man know, he is a priority. To walk around the block with him, to listen to him chat, to affirm to him that he is worth it. To know his heart. Id be lying if I said there isnt a part of me that wants to pull the covers over my head when he appears at the crack of dawn with a "mum, its time for our walk!". I open my eyes and stare bleary eyed up at his little face and see anticipation there. And a fair chunk of "you said". I get up and throw on some layers and gently stroll the block with his flurry of conversation and animated antics. Its not like we have any great deep and meaningfuls, or even great moments of insight and enlightment. It would be easy to miss how significant it is.... except that something in his little spirit is changing. His reserves are far greater, his anger a lot less. He is quick to come climb on my knee and cuddle, telling me how his heart his hurting. He is showing a genuine joy and peacefulness that comes from knowing how loved he is, how vital he is to our family. I see how his heart is reflected in his behaviour. I know the things that will make him hurt, make him smile. I see the little things that others wouldnt.. and as I wrap him up in my arms, or listen to his jabbering talk at the crack of dawn.. I sense Jesus pulling me close too. Whispering to me "I know you Fleur". And I am realising that to be known is all any soul desires. Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Things that hold us back from ministry...

One week a couple of months back, I was going about my daily stuff, and the Lord spoke to me. At the time, I wasn't praying or seeking Him.. I was simply going about my daily chores. Standing there in the kitchen, the Lord said to me "Im leading you into a new area of ministry that isn't your comfort zone". I didnt allow myself to ponder what that might be.. I more kind of wrestled with whether or not Id heard right. I love children, I know Gods given me a calling for working with children, right now homeschooling and training my own little kiddys, I know Im centre of Gods will. And Ive been happy there. It was only a day or two later that my Pastors wife, came around to see me and she mentioned to me something "Ive been praying and God has put you on my heart to be involved in Womens Ministry". Bingo. I said yes on the spot. I absolutely wondered what God was doing there! For the weeks that followed, I doubted significantly that I was really called. That I had anything to offer. That I had any use for God there and reminded God of all the ways Im disqualified for that kind of ministry. I said "yes" in my spirit, but in my heart, I said "no". I kept in my mind this viewpoint that I would be a quiet and barely there participant of the ministry team. Id take the humble back seat row of presence, but not contributing my ideas or engaging emotionally. I would be cautious. I had good reason to feel that way. My mum had been involved in Womens Ministry. She was a very effective minister of Gods Word to woman around her and a hard act to follow. I also felt wary of letting ministry goals interfere with my calling foremost to my family... or if I were honest, was what was really holding me back, was fear? Fear I would be rejected Fear I would be overlooked Fear that this ministry situation would simply remind me of how many ways I didnt fit. I wasnt consciously aware of those deeper fears. Those were hidden under many little lies I believed. And I wasnt even aware of those lies, till I sat down the other night and casually listened to a message on three things that hold us back from ministry. One of those things was "hidden lies", things we believe that arent true. Suddenly I saw it. I am one of three children, the youngest daughter with two amazing older brothers. Mum said as a little girl, I went through a stage of asking her if I could have a sister. But into my little box, I took with me through life the belief that if you had a sister, you could far better relate to woman. I felt that girls couldn't really be trusted. Id experienced being on the out a lot of times. Rejected because I wasnt 'cool', or 'like them'. Sometimes I would feel the brunt of things said behind my back, or little insinuations on my character. I acted confident and unfazed, but inside, I was hurt. My spirit was wounded. My way of dealing with it, was to feed my pride "youre Godlier than them anyway" and move on. So instead of hanging out with the girls, with whom I didnt fit, I hung out with the boys. I tagged along with my brothers where I could, they were and are so loving, and mostly I just hung out with the brothers of these girls, who were so much safer. In fact, throughout my childhood, my best buddys were often boys. Keith, Danny, David. Boys dont have that vindicative streak, theyre far more accepting and if they do have something to say it's to your face. I believed that was easier to deal with. As the years have passed, I've always struggled to fit in with a group of woman. I've tried many times, and eventually my hurt spirit has come to the surface and I've shyed away, put up my walls and moved on. Getting married to Sam meant it was easier to hang out with guys. We've never had a large group of friends, but of the couples we've related to, I've seemed to find the men less scary to talk to. My anxiety around other woman has been such that I would never have dreamed of attending a Sistas conference. I endured the odd woman's camp and woman's group, but in my heart I just wanted to feel safe. So I acted warm, friendly and untouchable... Though actually I felt anything but. A couple of times I've been told off for having a flirty spirit, and the insinuation cut deeper into my pain. My hurt meant I was unable to see how I lay myself open for failure. I knew I didn't have a flirty spirit,.. But I was unable either to see the wounds I carried that opened me up to compromise. So when God showed me these wounds I was carrying, I asked him to reveal where they had begun. God showed me three specific times that I had been hurt and carried it as lies in my heart. And He ministered to me there.. Reminding me of verses in his Word that are His promises to me. So many of us are held back from ministry by the lies we believe. What holds you back? Since realising this, I have begun to spot behaviour in my children which I see comes out of lies they are believing about themselves. Times their little spirits have been wounded and their behaviour comes out awful. I've asked god to help me see the lies they might be carrying, and to respond gently. Sometimes it's not the behaviour we should've disciplining, but discerning where they're at. So that they, like me, can be free to reach the potential God has for their lives in serving others.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


I sat with my list of things I want to see changed in our life. It was a mental list, but I had it down packed none the same. It had a few recommendations for improvement for myself.. but definately more for Sam. Being the vast woman of wisdom (and experience) I am, cough, I knew better than to attempt such a 'Life Performance Critique' in the hours before work. But more than that, I had that edgy kind of caution... you know... where you just about feel God slapping his Hand over your mouth saying "keep quiet". The Word of God has a lot to say about a word spoken in season, knowing when to hold your tongue, and sometimes, just not saying anything at all. So when I sat yesterday morning, ready to get out of bed, God put a restraint on my heart: Fast and pray. As the day wore on, my growling tummy seemed to be more of a tune of inner groaning, God reckoning my will unto His. And in quietly petitioning God for more of Him, I sensed His promptings as the day wore on. "Why dont you cook Sam his favourite meal tonight"... good idea God, okay, I will do that. "Why dont you tidy the house for him?".. yeah, good idea again God. I will do that. "Fleur, why dont you meditate on all the things you are so grateful for in him, and trust me to change the things which I want to change"... yeah, great idea there God. Youre right, I will do that. "Fleur, what about your heart?".... Ungratefulness stared back at me, from the mirror of Gods Word to my soul. I saw clearly how the enemy wanted to cultivate it there, to build a wall between Sam and I. To distract our focus from Gods work, and onto our human effort. I saw clearly how my ungrateful spirit built a wall that would bring hurt and destruction. God prompted me "what are the things youre grateful for?".. I couldnt stop listing all those things. They came quickly and easily to me, and the more I thought about them, the more a spirit of gentleness and joy grew within me. Sam came home and we greeted each other with a tender smile "how was your day?". His had been hard. Really hard. "Thank you for cooking my favourite meal" he said. I quietly replied "youre welcome" (thank you God for putting it on my heart). As I cleaned up the kitchen quickly (once again thankful for Gods promptings to have the dishwasher emptied and ready to go), I talked to the Lord about the things on my heart. He had already known what this day held for Sam and for I, and He was saying to me this "Keep your eyes fixed on me". Later that evening, Sam and I sat down to talk. I shared with Him what God had been showing me through the day. Tears welled up inside when Sam told me what a joy it was to come home and see the house tidy, see the learning room sparkling, smell his favourite meal cooking and to have a sense in his home, that love reigned there. Instead of words filled with anger and frustration, we expressed to each our gratitude. We even talked about the things that I could see that needed changing, but how small they suddenly seemed in comparison to my heart that morning. Gratefulness builds. Proverbs 14:1 14 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. How easily we can tear down the very thing we want to build, through our harsh words and responses, our unwillingess to restrain the voice of fear. How wise the woman who knows that, and cultivates a spirit of joy and gratitude that functions above what is natural.. because her eyes are fixed upon her maker.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


Proverbs 28:13 says that whoever covers his sin will not prosper. I want a prosperity in my life, a prospering in my soul. A flourishing in my spirit. Nothing that dampers the presence of Jesus in my life. These past couple of months, God has been doing a work in my life and revealing areas of compromise, areas of sin that I had allowed, areas of grey. As I have allowed him to shed his light on my life, I've experienced an intimacy with him that is so fresh and rich. And not just him, but Sam too. His love has brought a flourishing in my soul, a song in my heart. For the first time in a long time, I've seen his blessings in things that I'd been missing. My eyes have been lifted above things as they seem in an earthly context, and onto how god sees them. I wonder that we allow so long before we uncover our sin. Why do we hide? Uncovering sin isn't easy. It takes humility and a willingness to put it right no matter the cost. I remember years ago seeking to do that for something I'd been carrying for a long time. In my early teens I had been doing a circular run, delivering pamphlets. But one time I didn't deliver them in time, so I hid them in my wardrobe,..a whole box full of pamphlets!! I did this a couple more times and when I quit, I thought the guilt would go and was glad I had got away with it. But the guilt didn't go and now I had a huge pile of pamphlets to get rid of. I waited one day till my parents went out and then I burned them. But the guilt was still there. Ten years later, God convicted me, and I finally plucked up the courage to phone the employee and confess my sin and put it right. The amount of money I paid was only about $30, my voice trembled the entire phone call but the freedom I had when I got off the phone, was amazing. I learnt such a vital lesson on not letting sin stay hidden. When we walk in the light, no matter how humbling it may be, we allow Gods truth to flow. It's so worth it! Can I encourage you, with me, to let god shine his light into your life and uncover the hidden things. God can prosper a garden that basks in his sun.. But hidden under rocky layers of sin, your life wil never know what riches God has in store.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Notes from session with Rosie Boom: Dont do the same thing every morning. Get gumboots on, go for a walk. Dont miss Gods creation. Read to them by the river, do different things. Combine food wtih a new experience, have hot chocolate and pocorn and read. Create togetherness. Designate a reading day. Read as long as your voice holds out. Give them something to do while reading.. quilting, lego, knitting, french knitting etc. * Take a surprise field trip, a trip to the museum, zoo * Take each kids on a missions trip at 13yrs. Focus on ministries in reading books * Have a cheesemaking day * Stay in your PJS all day * Throw the kids in the car at night and take them to McD's cafe * Make memories, make up a story, get them to act it out. Do a big screening, puppet show, plays * Olympics day with homeschoolers. Bars, trampolines, matresses on grass * Make beds in lounge and stay up late to watch Olympics * Have a chess tournament * Create a big world map picture together * Play games all day.. educational games, scrabble etc * Get another family over to do a project together * Do some baking for someone in need * Sleepout in lounge * Make music together, go see a whale stranding, race to get home in spot light, do trail police detective * Christmas around the world - crafts and food for different nationalities Key: Do your work prior to enable you to enjoy the fun days. Work hard and celebrate!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Linen & Purple.

Fearlessness. What does that look like? What kind of woman is she? I know what Fear looks like. Fear empties the power of God out of our lives. It has us looking inward, looking at our circumstances. It reckons us silent. It causes us to fall into snares, lies, deceit, cheating. It causes great men and woman to fail in moral character. It paralyses and it all begins with such a small question: What if? I know the 'what if' voice well. The other night, I was looking online at the Cotton on Kids Sale. Kids winter clothing down, long sleeve t's down to $7 and womans down to $5, and then add another %30, and then, you can purchase a super duper cool tent for $20 for your kids and I spent over an hour building up a cart of clothes for next winter.. and all for $180 au! Bargain! I justified to myself that Id only have need of buying the boys a few pair of pants each, and maybe a jersey, and we would be comfortable for the cold season ahead. Yet when I went to go to checkout, I didnt have peace. I reasoned against it. Pffft, thats just the adrenalin rush coming down, and hey, I will have nothing to fear for winter 2014 and keeping warm. But God spoke to me "Fleur, would you trust me for my provision?". I internally wrestled with an answer for that. I wanted to reason "well, maybe if you give me a glimpse of how that provision might look, I might?".. I mean afterall, Id chosen all the muted natural colours I like and what if Gods provision involved gharish colours which just irk me. Or what if His provision were cheap tacky items that fell apart? I reflected back to a conversation Sam had with me earlier that night; "Fleur, did you know God not only provided food and water for the Israelites wandering, but it says right here in Deuteronomy 8:4 that their clothing did not wear out.. for 40 years!!". I shut down my cart. Id been there before. I was about 22yrs at the time and eager to get married, with no known male on the horizon. But the one thing I feared in getting married, was being without the things needed to set up home. I had this fear that I would be living in a cold and damp house, struggling just to get by. So I began buying stuff. Lots of it! I spent hundreds on kitchen items. Pots, utensils, tupperware. I stored them all up in my Glory Box and frequently pulled them out to look them all over and remind myself how secure I was. Oneday a while later, God asked me to sell it. He showed me it was purchases built on fear. So I obeyed. I set up a garage sale, and sold the lot. I think I made $200 on the entire lot! I was poorer and without my stash, but I was also emptied of fear. My Treasure Chest became a place where I purposed to store treasures that reflected Gods faithfulness and provision. For the next few years, it sat almost empty, with a nothing else bar some photos and a special album full of prayers I prayed for the man I would marry, whoever he was. A few years later, God brought Sam onto the scene of my life. During our courtship and engagement, God provided a piece of land for Sam to buy. Sam quietly began purchasing items for our new home, pots, utensils, appliances. He had no idea of my own story of building up and selling my stuff. Oneday he asked me if I minded him buying all these bits, and I nearly burst at the seams with joy to tell him what it meant to me. In the first year of our marriage, we moved into our new built home, with new and gorgeous appliances and a kitchen full of lovely things to make home. What is more, it required nothing of my fretting or planning. He honoured my obedience with His abundant faithfulness, and what is more, fear was not attached to it. The items did not own me, I was free from the burden of them. Our land nearly trebled in value in the first year and our kettle still goes all these years on.. which blows me away as its used relentlessly each day. What a huge lesson in the vast contrast between fear in action and Gods love in action. Proverbs 31: 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Fearlessness is a robe fit for royalty! And if God cared enough to mention that the wife of noble character is clothed in fine linen and the colour purple.. He sure cares about the details. Fearlessness is not the absence of loss or things that can harm. Note "when it snows". Its still going to snow! Its still going to get hard. As the Word of God says John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I know first hand, its still going to get cold, its still going to feel desperate sometimes. My adrenalin will still surge, sometimes the wind will feel knocked out of me. Im still going to react to spiders and turbulance. Fearlessness is not allowing those things to control my decisions. I cant defeat it by setting myself up for a series of perilous situations and hoping for the best,.. its not wrought from me, its wrought from saying to God "YES I WILL OBEY" Yes, God, I will obey You, because I trust Your character. Its a yielding of our will unto His and a decision that comes from repentance and surrender. Its realising that our way has never worked, that the outcome of our self preservation has been torment and paralysis. That what we are in need of, is Jesus Christ. I will never forget a woman who lived that out so real for me. She had suffered with an illness that left paralyzed her and left unable to swallow. It attacked her breathing. She was put into an induced coma and eventually recovered and learnt to eat, walk and talk again. It took years. When I was suffering with anxiety at my worst, she came and sat and talked to me. She told me; "when you feel like you cant breathe, sing". It worked! In January this year, she died suddenly. At her funeral, people spoke of how much a gift her life at been. In baking, in living, in serving, even when she herself had so little. But one thing her son spoke, left tears streaming down my cheeks. He said "my mum gave me the greatest gift ever, she wasnt afraid of dying". If ever there was a woman that could have feared it, it was her. She stared into its depths. She had literally known what it is to be paralysed by something out of her control. Yet she had tasted of Gods grace. She knew that Gods love is bigger still, that His purposes are greater, His ways higher. She knew what Corrie Ten Boom meant when she said "There is no pit so deep, that Gods love is not deeper still". What is God speaking to you today? What are the things that God is convicting you of? That He is saying "sweet child, that in you is of fear, not of me." Obey Him. Lift your eyes on Him and say yes. May God give you courage to stand on His promises!

Monday, 28 October 2013


Hebrews 5:8 says this "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered"

There you have it. Jesus learned obedience through suffering!
But Jesus is perfect, and always was.. so why then did he learn it??

Jesus learned the heart of God through the things he suffered.

Obedience is more than just the act of doing what is right. Its the heart to do what is right. Its a knowing of the heart of the one that instructs it.
Take my children, I dont want them to simply obey because I tell them they ought to. I spend hours talking with them about my heart for them. I pray with them. The bottom line is, I see further down the line than they can. I understand the laws of consequence and I want them to trust me, to obey me because they know Sam and my heart for them. Then their obedience is a submission of their wills, and mark me, I know the difference even though the actions might look the same.

In our childrens lives, we use consequences to follow up disobedience. Time out or whatever means of 'restraint', allows the child to reflect on their foolishness and consider a better way. If obedience were simply all that we required, why is it then, that when we see a child pouting and sulking in time out, that it raises our eyebrows? Is it not because what we desire to see is a change of heart? More than just a 'chin up and chug along' what we desire to hear, or see is a "mum/ dad, I yield my limited insight and perspective of this situation to the precepts you are teaching me, because I know you know better, and therefore, I will choose to do what is right". I want them to run back into my arms and obey, an expression of their understanding of how much I love them, and that they love me.

Suffering gives us opportunity to learn the heart of God towards us.

But who wants it right??

Romans 8
<i>From Suffering to Glory</i>

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There is a glory being revealed in our lives, through which suffering makes a pathway. Like a rushing river, it carves course through our lives enabling the Word of God to flow with gusto. *If* we allow it.

The enemy would want nothing of that. In your pain, either self caused or in circumstances beyond your control, God has a plan. He even has a back up plan for the plans that you got wrong. Still, the enemy would not want you to believe a word of it.

If he can suffocate you in despair and discouragement, your hope will become a wheezing and oxygen starved expression of the once faith filled you. He'd like nothing more.
He has many means and ways to try...

# Self preservation: For what logical reason would you stick it out? I deserve better, or at least I dont deserve this, so Im outa here! On pinterest you'll see many expressions of it "Friendship is those who have time for you" and so on. Ie, dont trust a soul. Youre better on your own. Proverbs 18:1 A man who <b>isolates</b> himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment

#Internalisation: You do deserve this, this suffering is because you are a sinner, and if you can find the root cause of your sin, than you will no longer suffer. But you will have a hard job finding the root cause of your sin, because the lie is buried in a great fog of condemnation. What is condemnation? Its great disapproval. The withdrawing of affection and punishment. It hurts. It cuts. It destroys. Its NOTHING of Gods character.. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you". He will never withdraw and reject us!

#Fight: After thinking it all through, anger rages inside "I am not putting up with this". JUSTICE! Im going to be better, think better, postively think my way out of this. But its draining. Because no matter how many times you dig in your heels and steadfastly declare that this wont get the better of you, that you sure as hang are going to show this 'thing' its place.. your energies become entirely directed in things that actually are beyond your control.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

So what is left then? To just fall into an exhausted heap on the floor and declare "what will be will be".. it would seem so. But no.

Guess what Jesus says? REJOICE! Show great delight and joy. Jump up and down, lift your feet in the air!!
Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

1 Peter 4:13
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

When we obey, we take the hand of God and thats security. Though the way be dark and dangerous, obedience says "I trust you here"..
Psalm 121
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord..
He will not allow your foot to be moved
The Lord is your keeper..
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

When we suffer, God extends to us grace. Its the grace to forgive. The grace to extend mercy. The grace to love. The grace to serve, to bless, to see things as He sees them. If youre not suffering right now, this sounds like a nice and great concept, but if you are, chances are youre thinking that there is no way you feel like loving those whove hurt you, or embracing the cause of your suffering. Gods grace gives us discernment, and not just that, it gives us the ability to respond outside of our own pain. Have you ever seen that in action? I recently walked through a situation like that with someone that was absolutely beautiful. In the light of Gods grace, there was healing and life and beauty. In fact, the things that had hurt me, God showed me as jewels in my life. Intimacy was wrought. Forgiveness became the means by which God could work healing and wholeness.

There are other areas of my life where I long to see the other side of the messy tapestry which is before me. I am learning to rest in His grace... He is working a far bigger picture than just what I see. Mostly, can I share with you something that may sound so far fetched to you. I cant share it better than a man did, who had been in prison for months, tortured, isolated and in pitch darkness. He had no human pleasure, utter despairing human conditions. When he was freed, he was asked what it was like. His reply "a honeymoon with God". I cant say it makes the idea of his pain any less scary, but I get a little of that kind of intimacy. Suffering opens up the doorway in our lives for heavens love. Its sweetness is unable to be feigned, and far deeper than anything this earth can offer.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Best friends...

When we arrived home from our final leg of our trip, Tim jumped out of the car and ran to the front door. Out came Ben and Nate, running with excitment.. Ben leapt up on Tim and Tim held him, the 3 of them jumping around for joy. They had missed each other so much. It will possibly stand as one of the sweetest moments of my life. Never underestimate how very dear siblings are to each other. Never underestimate the significance of your role in raising them to be friends. All the hours spent teaching them to love and be kind to one another, to think of each other first, the time spent staying at home so they can be each others playmates when heading out would be a far sight easier... all of it, all of it counts. Thank you to my brothers, Chris and Aidy, who loved me when I was a little pain of a sister. You set the bar high in my life. You have doted and cared for me and I treasure you both. xxxx

Sunday, 6 October 2013

In appreciation of the French

There are some little things Sam and I noticed, while in France, that I dont want to forget. They were observations for me highlighted, after reading 'French Kids Eat Everything' by Karen Le Billon. Things beyond just food, which made my time there so much more amazing. I hadn't realized the impact on me, till in getting back home, how Ive noticed a small shift in my sense of normal. The first chance I had, on Day one of arriving into St Remi Les Chevreuse, was to walk into the village and past the local school. It was playtime, so young children were running around playing. I paused for a while, to watch them interact. There was nothing that seemed strange to me.. cute kids interacting normally... but then I caught it. They werent exactly running. They werent hyped or scatty, there was a calm and order, even in their play. From there, we walked 100m down the road where preschool children were gathered, in what looked like a shop with a window. This very one, in fact! . All the toys and play area was laid out tidily and glass was across the front so anyone could see in. I looked for the shop sign, but there was none. And then I noticed that all the young children (aged around 2-4) were seated around a small table, with a few adults, eating. Once again, there was order. There wasnt food everywhere... kids werent getting up or walking around. They were seated and slowly being fed their lunch, by one of the adults with them. We walked on through town and went back that way, a while later. There they still were, sitting and still eating. I marvelled. No rush, no impatience, no scrambled sense of urgency. It was so lovely to see I just wanted to sit down and watch them for the next hour. I wondered how many preschools in NZ we would be happy to put in the town centre with a ceiling to floor glass window for all passing by to see? French children and the French in general are never in a hurry to eat. There are no rushed and gulped down meals, no panic. Lunch times are for eating. You arent expected to achieve anything beyond enjoying a fully cooked meal, that is standardly provided to you at your work place, or school place. My Aunty Louise explained that its not just about the nourishment. Its just as much about the socialization, a chance to enjoyably interact with your colleagues and peers. The times that I did get to see French kids eating, I noticed there meals consisted of the same things adults would eat. I had to look twice when I noticed two young children at a salad with their forks, eagerly devouring it. Their enjoyment had me thinking twice about how we tend to limit our children's meals to simplistic alternatives. Being there also made me very glad for the time Id taken to instill in Tim and Amy the rules of French eating and encouraged me to keep it up further when we returned home. The following day, we walked through Trocadero, which gave me opportunity to see parents interacting with their children. Some school children were out and about on excursions, dressed in beautiful clothes. Their attire was tasteful and tidy. There wasnt a mass of loud and kiddy colours, in fact, you and I would have worn anything they were wearing. On a whole, they appeared as children in training to be adults and dressed thus. Practical and tasteful. I loved it! We passed a park where two mothers were talking while their girls played on the swings and grass area there. I glanced and then and noticed one wee girl wearing white pants. WHITE pants! I swung back around to look thinking "she will never keep them clean" and then allowed myself to be amused. She likely would. They dont eat on the go. They are normal kids, but its expected that they wont run around like silly uncontrolled kids. Adults had the same etiquette. We arrived on lunch hour so watched from our cafe, as many business people walked by, men and woman. We probably saw at least 200 people walk by. Not one was eating on the go. I counted one woman who had a McDonalds bag closed and clutched in her hand and I smiled as she walked with it, almost hiding it embarrassed. They too had a meticulous dress code. It wasnt showy. Woman were modest and well dressed and tidy. It was so refreshing!! Shopping too was a completely different story. As we walked around, Sam and I tried to put our finger on what was different. Eventually Sam figured it. There wasnt a single store with loud blaring music. Not one! I recall a couple of French restaurants quietly playing music, but it was tasteful, mellow and there to accentuate atmosphere. You barely noticed it. As a result, one slowed down. The ease in the pace, got me wondering about one final thing I discovered. Allergies are unheard of in France. I was aware of it particularly because Im allergic to honey. My Aunty Louise explained that this is foreign to the French and she had never heard of gluten or wheat intolerance in her entire time of living there. She didnt have a single friend she knew, that had an allergy of any description!! I came home convinced that we significantly underestimate the affect of our adrenal glands on our wellbeing. I noticed the first shop we visited in London, after arriving on the Eurostar out of Paris, that music was beating loud and fast. My heart literally started racing and I felt panicked and driven with a sense of urgency. Sam felt it too and commented, pointing out what a difference it makes. I noticed food was eaten on the streets again and litter was everywhere. Complexions were more dull and problematic. It made me stand back to consider how there is a lesson in all of this. My Aunty Louise explained that the French spend a lot on food. Even those on a small budget. Food would be their number one expense. They dont just buy food because they like good food, but because eating around the table together, is one of the most poignant and building aspects of family and work life. Coming home, Ive begun to translate these things into my daily life. I take the time to dress the kids tidily in the morning. I keep the music and noise off. Around the table, I try to encourage them to slow down. Ive pulled out the placemats and instead of being just for good, they are on my table all the time along with the serviettes. I encourage the kids to talk less, and to talk quieter. Im quicker to intervene if I hear escalation in their interaction. And most importantly, Ive slowed down. I make a point to not rush. To not exist on a permanent adrenalin output... but to allow myself the space to rest and even dare I say it, sometimes sit and read. Its lovely. You should try it!!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Home is where the heart is...

Home, they say, is where the heart is. That being the case, ours might be aptly described as being split in half. As Sam and I walked through the Auckland terminal this morning, we both paused for a moment.. only 24hrs flying away is a place so different, and just as much loved, because of the awesome people in it. We packed up our luggage early Tuesday morning in Frinton and headed straight to see Dan and Clare. Sam is not one for sentimentality, but he wanted to spend every last inch of time with them.. and seeing first hand how incredibally dear they are to him (and to me), brought a permanent lump to my throat. Sam and I both agreed, as we unpack and reflect these next few days, there will be tears. I cant go on here without saying a few things about Clare and Dan. Besides being part of a circle of lifelong best friends that Sam had, they are of themselves, gold. It seems just as easy to laugh and play xbox as it does to talk about the things of God. Ive never seen Sam feel so free to just be himself with friends, as he does with them. Love mixed with laughter and acceptance. What a precious blend. Bless her, Clare knew that I had yet to try clotted cream so baked up some delicious "scoanes" (pronounce it right!) and served them with tea. Oh clotted cream. Where have you been my whole life and why in our great dairy farming nation, cant we buy the stuff? This has fast moved to my must try recipe list. Even more special than that, was the little gifts Clare and Rebecca gave to us, and especially one that Clare made for me. I had been collecting seaglass to make my own shadow box art piece in memory of Frinton. I had sat down and laid out all my pieces and was missing two green pieces. I asked God to help me find them. I had also asked God for one aqua piece. Ive fast learnt on this trip that God is able to fulfill the tiniest desires of our hearts. And of course, come the day we were flying out, we had run out of time to search the Frinton shores. But one of the gifts that Clare gave me, was this gorgeous handmade wee purse. Its so esquisite and she really needs to go into business making them. And inside it.. guess what was there?! A handful of seaglass... including the green bits I needed and one extra special aqua piece. It still chokes me up. We said goodbye, with a "see you soon" grin and full faith that it would be so. And drove with plenty of time to spare to Heathrow. Good thing we allowed plenty of time because right as we were about to take the exit in Heathrow to the car hire company, we missed and accidentally took the exit which had only one destination in which we could reroute.... Borehamwood... only 17 miles away from Heathrow. We attempted the route again with me in charge of reading the exits and praying to get it right. Thank you God, we made it to the car hire company, at 4:30pm, with plenty of time to drop offsaid car, catch the prebooked connecting bus to drive us the 20min journey to the airport, and check in at 6:30pm,... except that after waiting an hour or so for that bus, the manager eventually came out and told us that the connecting bus was stuck in traffic. He wasnt sure what time it would arrive but would contact them again in five or so minutes. The 'can do' Kiwi in me took over and I decided, wisely, not to leave the fate of our arrival time in the hands of an Indian manager and a bus company and had them dial a taxi. He thankfully got us there right on time! Thankyou God! This whole process of juggling routes and deadlines, checking in untold luggage and meeting security requirements, had left me with a thumping headache. I downed some Panadol and boarded the plane. I got smart here and smothered the remaining journey in prayer.. glad I did so, because seriously, the take off was the worst Ive ever experienced. It sort of juddered and wobbled off the runway like a kid fresh off its trainer wheels. I had that "der dum" moment when Amy's tv wouldnt turn on, and after asking a few different flight attendants for help, one kindly offered their sincere apologies that this was a new plane, and they were having a few aircraft engineering issues. They offered to send the engineer down to discuss it with me. Can I just say, when youre flying, what you dont want to know is that you *new* plane is having issues and the 'fix it up' chappie is onboard just in case. I saw the comical side of Amy not having tv on the 14hr flight from London to Singapore.. and whilst tempted to express how fairly ridiculous I felt it was to NOT have entertainment for my 3yr old daughter, and envisioning demanding business class upgrade etc etc.. I restrained myself. I reasoned tv had not always been available on long flights and that being content would serve my character growth well. It wasnt such a bad thing, Amy and I were able to get a lot of sleep and at the end we were gifted a $75 to spend on inflight shopping. I was able to use this to buy a Revlon cube of 9 lipsticks in my colours, which usually retail at $25e. I smiled with Sam that the inconveniences in our trip have often turned out not to be that inconvenient, when weve sought to keep our attitude right.. and often, those inconveniences have been restituted with blessings. Theres a lesson there to be had for me in the everyday. Stay flexible. God is just as much in charge of the things that dont go to plan! In Singapore we relaxed around the pool together and then boarded again a few hours later and flew on the last leg to Auckland. Amy has surprised me this entire trip. Even today she was asking me if we could go on the train, and another plane trip. She has been an utter delight to take with us. As has Tim. The second leg was on an older plane. I like older planes :) Theyre like travelling with a reliable parent. It was smooth. As we approached NZ, Tim and I watched the land come into view and our home shores take shape. Beautiful. Cleared customs with utter ease, despite having a suitcase alone for all our food and seaglass finds, including the sharks teeth Clare gave us for the boys. We drove home, albeit slowly, ridiculously jet lagged. Stopped for a catnap and to swap drivers when the other could bear it no longer. Nate and Ben greeted us with huge hugs and beaming faces and signs for the door.. and mum, bless her, an immaculate home, a fridge with food and milk and a light dinner. Everyone has crashed into bed and are sound asleep. I think I will quietly unpack and enjoy this tidy home and thinking over memories and moments which will be with me for a lifetime.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Our last day

Tomorrow evening 8pm we fly out. Some 26 hours of flying, 5hrs in Singapore and 2 hours of driving later, we will be on the doorstep of home, eagerly awaiting two little men's arms and cuddles and excited voices. And this time here will feel like a dream, for both Sam and I. What a precious amazing time it's been. Today I raced out early again to frinton village to find a few things I really wanted to bring home, and most importantly visit Bambi, the sweet shop. The owner has been there forever, so I took a photo of the kids with him, and picked up the rhubarb and custard sweets which I plan to sell to high price to my uk friends back home ;) We drove on to beach hut 365 to catch up albeit briefly with Sarah Johnstone. Loved actually being inside a beach hut, and was so lovely to meet her. She brought a photo album of memory lane, which I loved as much as Sam. Some of the photos I've seen before, but when you can place them in a setting you've seen, and smelt the smells, it's like it becomes real. Sometimes I realise how much I've adopted the English culture and how much Sam has adopted mine. Strangely, I feel at times more home here. Subtle differences but I wonder at times how much my European .. English/ Estonian ancestory impacts my innate sense of cultural norm, or how much being married to Sam has shaped it. Sam on the other hand fairly grieved the America cup loss and followed it faithfully while here, the impact of it causing him to realise how very Kiwi he is. We drove straight to Nans house so Sam could have one final look through, probably the last time ever. Took video and photos and then drove to kings cliff for Nans official birthday lunch. It was a small affair and lovely. Sam had time to sit and talk to nan to try and dig into her memories and make some connections between the stranger he seems to her now, and the little lad she knew. All conversations start with "it's Sam, Derek's son" and slowly work backwards. Some moments were hilarious such as when Sam said "do you remember i used to mow your lawn every Saturday and she gave him this delighted look like 'how very nice of you young man, whoever you are, to do that'. Eventually she remembered Sam as a little baby with his twin sister Becky in the pram. But beyond that, the memories are locked away. I was glad to be behind the camera, blinking back my tears. Dear Nan, thank you for the love and prayers you poured into Sam, the currant cookies and soup and meals you fed him, the way you encouraged him. I remember you telling me how you would read my letters about being married to Sam and you loved how much you could see I adored being married to him. Nan, Sam is a treasure and you are a Godly jewel in his genealogy. God has blessed you with long life, and although your memory now fails, we remember for you the precious sweetness of your life. Old age has stripped from you the ability to recall facts and faces, strength in your body and weight from your bones, but dear lady, you are beautiful. Elegant. Graceful. What is left of you remains the loveliness God has shaped. I love you Nan. Happy 100th birthday!! Sam kissed her goodbye and stood for a moment at the door beholding her, knowing this will be the last time he will see her. It was hard but with her failing memory, it felt like goodbye had happened already.. And what we werevsaying goodbye to was a beautiful fading shell. Went straight to Dan and Clare's which is like stepping into 'home'. We all went to the local pub for tea where Sam caught up also with his friends Ben and johnny. Sams out hanging with Dan while I pack up and the kids sleep. God, thank you for this incredible incredible trip.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

These are a few of my favourite things..

It's 10:40pm here. We've not long been home. Sam was climbing into bed and then decided he was missing his best mate Dan, and why not drive over and keep him awake and laugh together, just because he can. I love that he has a best buddy who is someone so, well, solid. Dan is constant, loyal, gentle and funny. I wish we lived closer!! We started today at Frinton Free church, where the Cahill family used to attend. I was attending with an element of quiet anticipation, mostly because I knew Jesus wanted to minister to me. The message was on 2 Samuel 13 and I have to admit to being extremely curious to how god had anything in this or me...but he did... I guess I could define it as stained honour versus un stained virtue. God may allow us to walk through times of humility which like Tamar, are life altering and even painfully disgraceful. Though our reputation and honour may be tarnished, our righteousness and virtue before Him is a robe which we are bestowed. He carries in his heart the things we walk through and brings healing. Amy sat like a wee angel beside us while Tim went upstairs to join in Sunday school. I think he has enjoyed having play mates this past week. After church we grabbed a bite at the frinton garden cafe, I ordered a ploughmans lunch so now just need to hunt out a Devonshire tea and a Stilton Cornish pastie, the first I've never tried (clotted cream still awaits my inspection) and the latter I haven't devoured in 11 years. More important than the food was spending time with uncle Ian and aunty beryl, uncle John and aunty val. Will miss their laughter and hugs and wit. Said goodbye to them, then drove to Chelmsford to spend the evening with Sams cousin Phil and wife, Alison and their kids, Hannah and Jack. Alison cooked us a beautiful roast dinner which was so yummy and appreciated. This was followed by bread and butter pudding and treacle tart, custard and cream. I have a new found addiction to Alison's bread and butter pudding. It was perfect. Our kids all ran around in the backyard together happily while we chatted. Phil pulled out a photo album of some photos of young Sam that included one of a Charlie Cahill set in a frame from Poplar. This excited me no end as one of Sams grand fathers was mayor of poplar. I couldn't remember who or which and wished I had my dear friend and ancestory research expert Victoria with me, who helped me find all these facts in the first place! But at least I know that photos are in the family for the book one day I intend to write. To look at, Sam and Phil bear resemblance, and they are even more alike in their personalities. Sam has always talked well of his cousin Phil and I loved seeing why. Alison and Phil met as childhood sweethearts and had dated since they were 14. Such longevity is hard to find and a treasure. Alison is a warm hospitable lady who is also a Sargeant/ trained inspector. Amazing woman. Alison put together a parcel of my favourite and memorable treats... Chocolate, crisps, bassetts jelly babies, cherry drops for Sam, quality street, and even pain au chocolat to bake up for breakfast. I was so moved by her thoughtfulness. I went home with an ache in my chest. People are precious. Sams family is lovely. I will miss having them near.

Hello prince William

Spent some time yesterday walking into frinton village to do some wandering around the second hand stores there. I only had about half an hour, but found a nice jumper and shirt for 3P ach. Thrifting here would be fun. There are at least 4 second hand stores in a 10m square radius and everything is cheap, like hunting for treasure. Sam picked me up and we went and spent a bit more time sea glass hunting. Beautiful weather, in fact, haven't had a single day of rain. Came home and got dressed up to head to Nans 100th party in Clacton. Nans home is right next to the church where the party was being held, so I got to see where Sam spent so much time. Nan looked beautiful. So elegant and gracious. She couldn't remember Sam. But Sam expected that. We wheeled her over to her party, where a large gathering of people came together to celebrate her. A woman who has lived through 2 world wars, her grandmother alive during napoleons time. Her lifetime spans no power and cars, to today. Locked inside her mind are moments in time that would blow our minds. She can't define time so often starts talking as if back then is now.. I watched her with wonder. Now a dear old lady who in some ways is like a small child. Unable to really grasp what all the fuss was about, who had to be quietly told to look up and thank everyone for coming, who smiled and acknowledged us strangers with little awareness of the significance of the occasion... Except that all her years enabled her to carry it off with grace and poise. All the great grandchildren present lined up and walked forward to her in procession to present her with her letter from the queen. It was so moving. We spent the time eating and catching up with family and friends of old, who welcomed me as if I'd always been there. I lost count of the number of times people told us how they did a double take because Sam looks like prince William. That had cracked me up when we visited Buckingham palace. I was taking a photo of Sam outside the gates and noticed a couple of girls stop and stare at him for a moment, trying to figure if it was William. After the party we headed to a restaurant in Weeley to have dinner with family. Sams uncle Ian is so like Sam and when the two of them get together they are an absolute witty crack up. The word play and joking is so funny, very English, a different humour from kiwis. My cheeks hurt from laughing. Will miss being in Sams family immensely. Today were off to church and then to frinton nursery for lunch and then to cousin phil and Alison's place for dinner. I can't wait!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Sand glass

What a fantastic day! We began in Colchester where we found the high street and hit Next for Sam, Tim and Amy. I found a pretty cardi in river island and looked around New Look. Sam showed me around a few of the womans shops, but a wave of reason hit me that I was shopping with no need in mind. So we moved on.
Drove to the secondary school Sam attended in Colchester, which actually doesn't exist anymore.. Now it's a mansion. The old classroom is still there, painted to look like a barn. All I can say is that his school was set in the most enviable quintessential lane. A pond and a meadow in the playground. It's all still there behind a now coded gate and in the old field nw stands a monumental home. Beautiful.
Watching Sams eyes fade off to memories of his childhood melts me. He gets this happy distant look, a youthful twinkle. My heart burns with a longing to cup little Samuels face in my hands and tell him how fantastic he is. Instead I settle to place my hand on grown up Samuels fore arm and tell him how handsome he is. My prince. And I mean it.
Drive home. Took a brief siesta then we headed to frinton seaside. I'd been waiting to walk this with Sam and I wasn't disappointed. The sand is the feel and colour of brown sugar, and instead of shells, it's scattered with pebbles that look like chunks of toffee and caramel. The water has the same hue and the small waves glowed gold. The shores are lined with beach huts. As we walked, I collected sand glass, popping out at me like jewels. The family caught on so we all hunted it out so I can make a piece if art when we get home. As we walked, I quietly talked to Jesus and expressed my gratitude for being here, and like these glass treasures, that He would mark the time here with His presence. He already has but I don't want to miss a moment.
Drove on to Walton and walked the pier where Sam used to fish. Visited his old fishing shop which is still there. Sam has gone to see dan ths evening which gave me a chance t catch up on washing. I even had time to iron! Tomorrow is Nans 100th!!!!!!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Frinton I love you

We spent our last half day in London yesterday at Madame Tussaud's which was okay, Tim found the ride through the centuries and learning about the Black Plague and London fire fascinating. I can't wait to do some homeschooling projects with him on these historical events. We came back to the travelodge and tidied our things and headed via taxi to Picadilly station. Managed with some effort to navigate through the people and maze, with once again, more bags than arms, and no luggage trolleys. Got on the train and headed to heathrow. From there got a hoppa bus to the car hire. In NZ, these events take an hour... It took us 4! Our car hire turned out to be a nice new Peugeot, spacious and smooth. Felt so good to have our own transport again. Sam navigated rush our traffic through heathrow junctions (legend) and we arrived in Cambridge about 7:30pm. We stayed at rectory farm on his aunty and uncles property which is soooo beautiful. Walking into and finding all his family seated and welcoming of us was amazing. I loved seeing them interact and laugh and chat together.. They are all so warm and affectionate.. I love all the kisses and cuddles European culture freely gives. I beamed.. And at times swallowed the lump in my throat that I am here. They set us up in a beautiful room and we slept well. After breakfast today, a quick pool dip, walking around and breathing in fresh air.. then farewells, we drove to waitrose, which was pretty fun!! Found a pile of goodies to stuff into our luggage, books and pretty cake decorations that we can't readily get in NZ, treats and washing liquid, vanish stick etc. From there drove to (drum roll) FRINTON. Watching Sams face come alive as he drove around and memories came flooding back was priceless. When he got to his home church, and pointed out the spot where he used to hang out, tears rolled down my cheeks. To think, that all those years ago that I had been praying for the man who would be my husband and he was on the other side of the world in a pretty seaside town, his family preparing to emigrate to NZ, and thus my husband and I would meet. I thanked god again to be here. We drove past his school where he was head prefect, St. Philamenas, and decided to drop in and see if they would let us see Sams main classroom. We were greeted by the principal who showed us around everywhere. It's such a lovely little school with a godly vision, the kids were respectful and well behaved and I could deeper appreciate Sams fondness of his time there. They asked me about home schooling and gave me some free spare resources to use and I left more inspired than ever at the direction I want to take our kids in their learning. Arrived at our home for the next 5 days, 44 upper fourth ave which just happens, by sheer fluke (Gods care of details) to look into the back yard of the home around the corner, where Sam grew up in!!! Its a 2 level home with a white and pastel blue coastal theme. Love it. Had dinner at Sams best friends house, Dan and Clare. Sam just laughs and grins constantly when walking about them and being with them. A ton of happy and hilarious memories in their time and seeing the cheeky smirk creep over Sams face makes me laugh. Off to bed, tomorrow headed to Colchester to get Sam a shirt and Tim some pants, walk the village, comb the beach for sand glass, photograph the beach huts and hunt through the many antique stores here. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Twinkle toes

Yesterday was epic,.. We just happened to time the day perfectly on many accounts, thank you God for melting me with your love and favour in the little things. We started at Big Ben just in time for the bell to peel out. Tim beamed. It was awesome. We wandered along past the incredible monuments, and arrived at the secured gate of the prime ministers residence, 10 Downing st, just as they opened the gate. That meant we got a view past the armed police right to the front door. Awesome. Then we walked to the horse guards right in time for e changing of the guards. We were so close we could have touched them... Almost did because they started marching towards us with not a word. So much pomp and tradition. I love it. We grabbed a coffee in this awesome little book shop, then walked onto NEXT. Shopped there with semi restraint, found a new top, pants and beautiful accessories. From there we went to Covent Garden and found Skechers. In NZ before we went, Amy discovered with delight Twinkle Toes shoes.. At $90. Ouch. But guess what they had in Skechers... on Tuesdays they have 20 percent off kids shoes, which happened to coincide with our visit. Amy walked in and clealy wasn't leaving without a pair... The rest of the day she spent stamping her feet to watch the lights twinkle. Cute. From there we wandered down to the main markets just as this young opera singer hapenned to be belting out a song. She was incredible. Took a tube to harrods blew my mind at the Christmas displays and food... But most importantly, found for Tim, toy kingdom. Flag the kids, this was my heaven. All the best toys you can imagine on one floor. Tim had some spending money so was majorly excited. We found schleich, half the price of NZ so bought all the new dinosaurs with moving mouths and the smaller ones the boys don't yet have. Can't wait o surprise them when we get home. Tim found Corgo model planes and bought a few of those. I grabbed a box of uk play food for Amy, sort of a memoir to our trip. And a couple of toys for my boys at home who I miss beyond words. On the way out a lady sprayed Sam with a new cologne called Acqua Di Parma. Swoon. I loooooved it. Thankfully Sam did too because I'm so buying him that for his Christmas present. Grabbed some dinner back at travelodge then raced to marks and Spencer's kids to grab a couple of things, including a DIY Emily brown bag. Adorable. Took a bus for a tour of London city but it headed out of the city, and towards South London. We climbed off nonchalantly at a stop and Sam and I pretended to know exactly here we were down these dark streets, clearly in a not so safe area. Ha. Sam and I grinned to each other and were about to admit defeat and grab a taxi, but found a tube and mad our way back to moor gate. Grabbed some treats from Tesco. Slept. Amy wanted to sleep ith her tinkle toes on. When i said she couldnt, she tried to tuck them in beside her, finally managed to convince her they could stay on the bedside unit. cuuuuute. Today were off to Madame Tussaud's and then driving to Cambridge.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Buckingham palace

Started our day yesterday with buffet breakfast. I found little packages of marmite so was super excited... And then upon opening it, declared out loud "for crying out loud you Brits!!" .. Here, it's runny and the colour of caramel and tastes like, we'll, Bovril. Apart from that epic spread failure, yummy breakfast. We headed on the double decker bus to the London tower on the top level. So fun to be up there with mum and dad telling us the historical significance of the buildings. We git off the bus and walked along the waters edge to the tower which i loved. The english grey skies, the gherkin tower, the old monuments which tie through history... Wow. Tower of London was amazing. The ravens, the wire menagerie of animals that lived there.. Including a polar bear!, and the Crown Jewels which still blows my mind. Tim got really upset when we walked through the torture tower, I whisked him out of there but it had reduced him to tears that torture had ever existed. My heart broke with his, and after praying, I talked to him about not loving our lives unto death, standing for a greater cause, and the dispensation of grace God gives us when we need it. He perked up after that and we moved on. Sweet soft hearted boy. From the tower we took the tube to Greenwich to the planetarium and the meridian line. We went to one of the stars and planet shows which was on for school kids. It was an okay show, but I loved most hearing all their little accents piping up with comments and answers and the wee personalities coming out. Then we stood on the meridian line which is the worlds longitudinal 0, where distance and time is measured globally. You put one foot on with side which means your standing in both the east and west hemisphere, and in time, yesterday and today, pretty cool! Headed back to travelodge via marks and Spencer's food store. Oh man... No words, could pretty much live in that store for a few hours. We made our way to the tube and by then it was 4. Sam and I had a Buckingham palace tour anout 5.30. We were tight on time majorly. Left the kids with mum and dad and ran out of the station back to our room, barefoot. Threw on some glam clothes and headed via taxi to the palace. The tour was Unforgettable! We were part of a group of 20 and walked through 19 state rooms slowly, with a guide explaining to us everything. She had worked at the palace for 3 years, so it was awesome to ask her so many questions. We stood on the spot where the William and Kate cut their wedding cake, where Michelle Obama famously hugged the untouchable queen, where the queen herself delivers her Christmas broadcast, where banquets are held. We finished with champagne and the royal store, which was gorgeous. When we were ready to leave we were driven on a buggy out through the main front gates. It was incredible. Took the tube back and Sam and I relived the highlights, pinching ourselves. I crawled into bed an vaguely recall Sam coming in sometime later with a disbelief of America cup results. Being here I realise how kiwi my hubby now is.. He has a kiwi accent and hasn't dropped back to an English one, even in his home country. One more day here and then off to Cambridge to see family. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Paris to London

We got up early in Paris yesterday, ate our final pain au chocolat for breakfast, oh man, am I going to miss those. Louise drove us to Gare du Nord to embark Eurostar but en route drove us all around Paris. Showed us the opera de paris, montmarte, arc de triomphe etc. So awe inspiring. Made it through customs and dragging our bags through the train station and arrivedin London midday. Grabbed a taxi to travelodge and wandered out for lunch to pret a manger kings cross, famous for its healthy food, and more famous because duchess Kate has been spotted eating there. We consumed a healthy lunch, except for Amy, who discovered their hand cooked sea salt and cider vinegar crisps. Lost our bags to her. Can't blame her, they were so good. Wandered back to travelodge via Tesco. Grabbed some English cadburys to consume in our room, Sam found bassetts jelly babies. Candy tastes infinitely better in Europe. It's also cheap, a tin of quality street costs 4p here!! InNz you pay $25. Guess what my suitcase will be full of coming home :) Noticed immediately how everyone eats on the go here. Streets are covered in litter and people don't look nearly so healthy. Ahh the French have converted me. We relaxed in our room for a few divine hours watching English tv, and then mum and dad Cahill arrived. Our rooms had been mixed up, so we had to swap over. Bit of a mission but they gave us all complimentary buffet breakfast which seemed worth the trouble. Travelodge has an adjoining restaurant where we ate dinner. I had a steak and ale pie, with mash and peas. I think I'm addicted already. The water though, ugh.. in Paris, all Amy wanted to drink was their bottled water. Here, the tap water tastes awful!! Made our way back to our room and crashed into bed exhausted. Slept till 5am and now ready for a full day of London sights.. Big Ben, planetarium, London eye and in the evening Sam and I have a champagne tour of Buckingham Palace.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

To market to market

So for our final day is Paris, we decided to stay local. I had intended for us to do montmarte and Sacre Ceour, along with rising early to get up the Eiffel Tower.... as it seemed mandatory for Tim to at least do those things. However when I put it to him, he replied "I will do them when I come next time". I half entered into a lecture about when next time would be, and then realised he was right. He will probably be back here sooner than I.
What he really wanted was to stay away from the metro and enjoy being here at Stephane and Louise place. Awesome decision.
Aunty Louise drove us first to a dairy farm Ferme de Coubertin, which supplies raw milk and yoghurt. They drink mostly long life here, except for those who use the local fresh supplier. From there we headed to the market. That was hands down the best experience yet! Sam and I loooooved it.
Basically it's loads of deli style stalls, food set behind glass, of everything imaginable. This is where most do their weekly shopping. There are lots of similar stalls so you get the joy of being picky. The fish stall, did every seafood you could think of, crabs, lobster, flounder, tuna, mackerel, trout, shrimp,  snails and so on. Everything is fresh, brought in from yesterday's catch, the crabs and lobsters still alive, so walking past the fish market was akin to stepping into the fresh seaside, no retracting odours. The meat options are mind blowing. Not a single inch of any animal is wasted, you can buy the heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid, tail and everything is presented as wholesomely edible. Thus, you get a meal creativity which is far from the limitations of supermarket mentality. The chickens still have their heads and feet attached, and are a yellow sort of colour, so apparently more healthy than the anaemic white versions common in NZ. The cheese stall has probably 100 different  choices, and they slice off what you need, as opposed to the valumetric plastic wrapped chunks. The fruit and veges available are seasonal and loaded with flavour. At any stall you purchase from, you are asked when you plan to eat what you are buying. The reason being that they will choose what will be best for when you want to eat it. When we bought quartre figs, and told them we were eating them that day, he made sure to choose us ripe ones. Then there are stalls of deli,s, precooked meal stands, crepes, bread, flowers, linen and so on.
The whole process is not a hurried mad affair, there is a serious and slow attendance to the process. You don't get shoving and screaming kids, stall owners are eager to engage with children and encourage them learning, trying and enjoying food. When Amy chose a bunch of cherry tomatoes to snack on, her purchase and chewing was met with nods of approval and joy. The food isn't any cheaper than NZ really, except that the French do not scrimp on food. They're not wasteful or excessive, but eating well would be their greatest priority.
Cereals, cleaning products and other items are obviously bought from the grocery store

We left the markets beaming and came home to eat lunch of couscous, mdeterranean chicken stew and wine in the hot sun, on the deck. And bask in the quiet. It's so apparent here in France, and particularly in chèvreuse how much less noise there is to contend with. Shops aren't blaring music, your neighbours aren't cranking up their stereos, and thus, you find yourself naturally slowing down. After a siesta Louise drove us to de la Madeleine chateaux ruins which is idyllic. The view is incredible and I wish I could capture the feel of the place and bring it home. We then briefly stopped in to see the church of St Matin in chèvreuse, which happened to have a wedding on. We got to see inside before the guests came in. The church was constructed in 1609 and has a warm rustic lime and sandstone feel, ornate with stained glass windows. It's one of the prettiest I've ever seen. The bride arrived so we sat and watched the wedding guests and bride mingle, getting a feel for culture and admiring how the woman all wore dresses, and some men wore hats. We then drove to the chateau de dampierre and climbed the hill to stare over its magnificence. The whole trip Sam and I had our heads out the window, , trying to capture the sights and smells. We arrived home for dinner, a planned affair to celebrate our market choices. We had salami and pâté en croute for our appertif followed by dinner of baked potatoes, courgettes and barecued horse meat kebabs. That was followed by Camembert and epoisses cheese, grapes and figs. Bats flew around us while we ate and we admired the little mole hills in the backyard. I crashed into bed while Sam tried to capture the hopefully last race of the Americas cup, which was postponed... So we will have to find ourselves a kiwi pub in UK tomorrow and watch it with fellow loyal folks. In the morning we head on the Eurostar to London. Can't wait to watch Sam come alive in his home country.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Paris and police

So, in the land of the ambitious, we intended to have half of Paris under our belt today. Ha.
Stephane drove us in through the 10km tunnel and past water towers and flat land, and dropped us off at Le Grande Arche and we made our way by metro to Trocadero. The view of the Eiffel Tower there is amazing. We wandered through Trocadero to admire the buildings and people. I love how the french dress, the woman are tidy, elegant and modest. Lots of scarves. We tried to find a unique French place to eat lunch which was pointless really as everything is geared for tourists. Settled instead on Starbucks which was perfect. Took our time eating. I love that its expected you won't race through your meal, you aren't made to feel hurried. We wandered some more and passed gorgeous parks  and quaint shops. Everything is so expensive! Eventually we conceded we were lost and grabbed the metro back to start point to wander down to Eiffel Tower. We passed a carrousel en route which was like something out of a book. Beautifully painted and ornate. Of course Amy wanted to go on it and beamed the entire time. At the foot of the Eiffel Tower we grabbed a cruise around Paris along the seine. That was such a highlight for me. Loved seeing it all... Notre Dame, the bridge of locks, the musee, the st Germanise des pres, you really get how incredible the history is. My favourite part was learning how Choltitz was ordered to bomb the entire city in hitlers orders, but risked his life to save Paris. This same man had bomded Rotterdam before they had surrendered. Incredible decision of courage.
From there we took a look at the line to get up the Eiffel and decided we didn't feel like cueing for 2 hours with 2 tired kids. We took a bus ride around the city on some rattly tourism bus and got off as soon as we could at the lock bridge. Grabbed ice cream (which of course meant sit down and eat slowly) and then walked to Notre Dame. The stained glass windows are just beyond capturing. Everywhere were signs asking for silence along with hundreds of prayer candles. To a 3 year old, that equals a celebration so Amy sung happy birthday as i walked her in her pram. People giggled while i pushed her around. The bells peeled out while we were there. Decided to head home. Made our way through the metro maze where armed police and soldiers were smothering, I guess looking for someone. Got the distinct impression whoever they were looking for was someone pretty bad, to require that band of force. Every metro stop in the city was covered, the escalators turned off. I hope (he) didn't decide the metro would be an easy escape. Eventually made it to st remy les chèvreuse swapping trains at bourg la reine, which I'm mastering saying and feeling so French to pronounce. Came home and crashed into bed. Wake up at 11pm and ate spaghetti bolognaise that Louise made and chatted with her and Stephane. They are such a hospitable, so warm and friendly. Love staying here. Slept till 7am and now ready for our final full day here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bonjour paris

Headed off to santosa island to universal studios. It was soooo hit and humid.  Even the locals were cooling themselves down with cold bottles. Transformers ride was incredible. Absolutely worth going just for that alone. We headed back to airport around 4pm drained and en route last Amy's shoe. It was her only pair brought with us for the plane journey. And then sams backpack ripped at the seam.We prayed and stopped at the mall to look for new shoes and bag, but didn't feel to buy anything.
One of the first shops I'd gone into the day before,in the transit shops, was this gorgeous shop called accessorise which the cutest wee glittery girls shoes for $44. I loved them but couldn't justify the cost. As we sat down to eat dinner in the transit area, still shoeless and bag less, I was prompted about a $40 airport shops voucher we could pick up. I decided that would at least cover the shoes! When Sam and I went to get the vouchers, it turned out we qualified for $160 worth of vouchers!!
That covered the shoes, bag and Sam got me new perfume. God really does work all things for good.

Flew to Paris on the airbus. Amy slept the whole 13 hour journey. Got our luggage and headed to train to get rer b to st remy les chèvreux. No words. We had 11 luggage items including a car seat and  had to hand carry the lot through the doors in the few seconds you get, not to mention the locals pushing through the doors. And then had to switch trains twice. We made it. Drained. Louise picked us up and drove us around her village then dropped us home as she headed off to work. Sam crashed into bed while I took kids back no village for walk, admired little French shoes, stopped at a daycare to admire how French kids really do eat just like the book French Kids Eat Everything says, bought un pain and bome de chocolate from boulangre, breathed in the smells, sights, homes, front doors, greenery and then walked home resisting the urge to devour items en route. The french dont eat walking around. No wonder theyre slim. Came back and ate said bread, with lashings of butter and fresh tomato, all while overlooking the commune. Divine. Sam was still asleep so i put on the cartoons till Tim said he'd rather watch paint dry in English than listen to another French tv episode. Classic.  It was now 3pm. We couldnt wake Sam. The kids and I just sort of crashed at this point. We all woke up at 8pm to Louise home and giggling at her comatose guests. She fed us a mouth watering meal, tagliatelle, veal with white wine sauce, bread and pâtés and sweet melon. Dessert was mars bars ice cream bars, which I declined for certainty that I would become addicted and experience withdrawals in NZ where I'd be forced to create my own, as they don't exist in NZ, and then would likely be a Jenny Craig canditate. Just sayin. There was coffee eclairs, and chocolate mousse cake, almond custard cake and well, it just felt like half the patisserie on offer, but I was exhausted. Excused myself and crashed onto couch with Amy where we both fell asleep. Sam kindly out us to bed. Woke up at 4am. It's a new day! Today were off to Paris city to see sights. Louise is going to meet up with us after work and we will go out to dinner in Paris then onto La Grande Arche or a fireworks display. Can't wait. Personal missions today are to buy large amounts of French cheese, devour it guilt free as its crazy cheap here, find the thin chocolate biscuits that Tim loves and stuff those in my luggage as Louise said they do clear customs, visit Eiffel Tower and montmarte, find some antique stores, and some French kids clothing. What a dream to be here!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Long awaited

I've prayed for this trip for ten years. I can't put into words what it means to do this with Sam.
We got up yesterday at 5am and drove to Auckland. The day had to, and did, follow in a succinct order which required more of my brain than might have been there. Added to the usual need for travel order was a tricky situation that was uncovered last minute. We had booked the transit hotel in Singapore. However, as we are stopping here for 29 hours, not 24, it's not officially a stopover. That meant we couldn't get our boarding passes at Auckland for Paris, meaning needing to clear immigration at Singapore, meaning heading out of the airport, meaning not being able to stay in the transit hotel as you can't access it without a boarding pass. Super above my head. Anyway, at check in, we explained all this and of course, nothing they could do. But yet I had such a peace. I just smiled and said, that's okay. Couldn't believe I said that. Moments later a head lady appeared and told them to over ride the system and issue our boarding passes for Paris. Kind of unfolded in a blur of heavenly perfection and I just smiled.
Plane trip was good. 11 hours of flying, Amy was awesome. So was Tim. Turbulence, not so. We were stuck in our seat belts a lot of the trip, with the captain coming over the intercom saying something about severe turbulence. Hence Amy couldn't lie down. Hence she didn't sleep so was awake from 5am to 1am NZ time. What a girl.
Tim loved flying. I told him he could buzz the hostesses for snacks anytime he liked. He did so. Juice, chips, ice cream, etc. I made him refrain from telling me all the plane wing happenings. He knows far too much and was itching to launch into a plane crash investigations story in full detail. Ignorance is bliss.
Slept well and now off for breakfast in Singapore, to universal studios, shopping and night safari then flying out tonight at midnight for 13hrs to, drum roll, Paris. Eeeeek. Call me a romantic but I can't wait to kiss Sam at the Eiffel Tower. And pay due respect to the champs elysees :). Xxx