Monday, December 26, 2011

'Twas the day after Christmas

'Twas the day after Christmas
and the house was a mess
the lounge full of wrapping paper
and dishes in the sink
We agreed that cleaning
the house would be best

Outside wood needed stacking
and lawns to be mown
The garden needed weeding,
watering, mulching and hoeing
Swings needed swinging
and balls to be thrown.

The sun was shining brightly
There was not a cloud in the sky
So we ignored the housework
and spent the day outside.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pillow, sweet pillow…

I’m tired. 

I’ve been tired for a couple of months now. 

These days, I get the children fed, clean and herded into bed, then I curl up on the sofa or my bed, and that’s the end of my energy.  I just can’t find the energy to write, or even turn on my computer.  I haven’t logged onto my facebook since the August snow day.  I try to keep unread email to a manageable number, scanning through every few days deleting the junk and reading what looks like important stuff, but I can’t seem to face sifting though the rest. I might read a bit some nights, particularly if I have a historical or science fiction novel I can lose myself into another time or universe with, until the words start blurring on the page.  Otherwise I’ll drowsily push the remote control buttons, flicking through the channels randomly until it’s late enough to justify going to bed.  About 8:30 seems an acceptable bedtime. 

Normally when I get a tired patch, I take some supplements, have some early nights, and come right after a few days. But that doesn’t seem to have helped this time. 

I notice that there is an undercurrent in my thoughts.  When I go shopping, I’m thinking “bread, milk, cheese…” but underneath that there’s a thought thinking “those shelves are stacked awfully high.  Better walk in the middle of the aisle.  That looks like a good spot if you need to dive for cover.” Coffee at the Addington Coffee Co-op, I’m thinking about which slice looks tasty, the thought underneath is thinking “I don’t like the look of those brick walls.  Let’s sit at this nice sturdy strong looking table.” Walking along the footpath, I’m talking to the children about their school day, thinking about what’s in the fridge for afternoon tea, but underneath the thought is thinking “That concrete block wall has some nasty cracks and is leaning slightly.  The grass verge there looks like it’s just beyond any potential trajectory”.

I’m not conscious of feeling anxious or stressed. But the undercurrent of alertness that is mostly subconscious I think is taking a lot of energy.  So I just feel tired.  So does everyone around me. Talking to others, this tiredness seems to be a common Christchurch complaint at the moment. I suspect its a “normal” part of the emotional recovery process.  I don’t know how long this tiredness will last.  So if you don’t see me online, you’ll know why. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, my pillow is calling my name.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The more it snows-tiddely-pom

The more it snows-tiddely-pom

The more it goes-tiddely-pom

The more it goes-tiddely-pom

On snowing.

And nobody knows-tiddely-pom

How cold my toes-tiddely-pom

How cold my toes-tiddely-pom

Are growing.

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

(from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The ancient art

I owe L an apology. 

Let me start at the beginning.

Once upon a time, back last century, when I first left home to attend university, I lived for the first year in the halls of residence on campus.  Email was very uncommon back then, only post grad students at the university had access to it.  So I kept in touch with all my family and friends with old fashioned, pen and paper kind of letters.  Does anyone else remember those?  I remember writing 3 or 4 page long epistles, describing all sorts of daily adventures, thoughts and musings, and general conversation.  I remember the excitement at checking the mail each day, and it was a depressing day when my mailbox was empty.

Writing letters was fun.  You didn’t just get to tell the stories of your daily life, you could decorate the letter in lots of creative ways, and include interesting clippings and other treasures.  And there was the pleasure of buying nice stationery and pens.

That was the good old days.  And then came the arrival of email.  At first email was good.  I would still exchange the newsy chatty letters, but now they would get there instantly.  But slowly it deteriorated.  My inbox became filled with emails that you had to scroll down two screens of everyone’s forwarded email addressed just to read some lame joke that someone thought was funny enough to pass around.  I found I was reading very little in the way of real news and correspondence from my friends.  Once I filtered out the spam, I was left with business type emails, and not much else.  A bit like how my physical mailbox only brought me bills.

Sometime ago, I drew up a list of a few friends that I thought would be interested (mostly those that hadn’t found their way onto my social media sites) and sent out a series of Real Letters.  I got a few replies electronically, and it was lovely to actually get a chatty newsy email again.  But L was the only friend to enter into the spirit of the correspondence and reply by “snail mail”.  And so for more than a year I’ve had again the pleasure of a REAL correspondence.

But now comes the bit about the apology.  I’ve been overdue to write to L for more than a month.  And I don’t have any real excuses.  I’ve probably been spending too much time reading and writing blogs. 

Today I got out my fountain pen and ink, and my notepad, and again revived the ancient art of letter writing.  I wrote about stuff that would normally be too private for sharing publically on a blog.  I wrote my thoughts as they occurred, without editing, as part of a conversation.  Then I had an enjoyable walk on the sunny Sunday afternoon down to the post box to send it on its way.

So L, I apologise for the delay, but rest assured, your letter is on its way to you now, and you’ll hopefully have it by Tuesday.

P.S.  If anyone else is interested in a snail-mail correspondence, email me at with your details.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deep calls to deep

Following along from my post last week about Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I figured I should start actually re-reading the book.

A cold, wintery Sunday afternoon.  The lounge is the warmest room of the house.  It’s also the room where everyone else is keeping warm.  I open the book to the first chapter.

We must not be led to believe the disciplines are for spiritual giants and hence beyond our reach, or for contemplatives who devote all their time to prayer and meditation.  Far from it.  God intends the disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings: people who have jobs, who care for children, who must wash dishes and mow lawns.

A DVD of Beatrix Potter stories is playing on the TV.  The eldest child is playing a game on the family PC.  The teenage from next door is hanging out on our sofa, chatting to Hubby about school, siblings and life in general.  I’m listening to the conversation while I’m reading, and adding an occasional question or comment.

I turn the page, and try to concentrate on reading again.

Psalm 42:7 reads “Deep calls to deep.” Perhaps somewhere in the subterranean chambers of your life you have heard the call to deeper, fuller living.  Perhaps you have become weary of frothy experiences and shallow teaching.  Every now and then you have caught glimpses, hints of something more than you have known.  Inwardly you have longed to launch out into the deep.

Peter Rabbit is being chased by Famer McGregor.  I put the book down to intervene between the two younger children squabbling over the blocks on the mat.  The teenager stands up and starts saying goodbye.  The eldest child gets frustrated with her computer game, and asks for help.

I struggle with the contrast of the daily working, parenting life, and the deeper, spiritual life.  How do I make the “deeper” a reality when it’s a challenge to find some peace and quiet to even read about it?

Snow in our City

We don’t often get snow at sea level around here.  Apart from a few centimetres that melt by lunchtime.  Last Big Snow was 1992, and prior to that sometime in the 1970’s.

I’m not going to work today.  Phoned the boss to say I was going to be late getting the car out of the driveway, he said we’d wait until later in the day since the roads aren’t safe.


Rugged up the children for them to explore the unfamiliar white stuff.

Miss Seven and Daddy made a snowman and had a snowball fight.

Picture 091Picture 094Picture 095

Miss Five ventured out to help for a short time, then ran inside crying because her fingers were hurting even with gloves on.

Mister Two got as far as the doorstep, then turned around and came straight back inside.  The younger children admired the snowman from the window.

I am VERY thankful we have our fire.  The electric heater would not have kept up. (Our house is an older house and doesn’t have very much insulation).

Everyone I know in Christchurch is posting snow photos on their facebook pages.  We’re like a city filled with excited children.

I might even get some writing done today!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Morning World

I went to bed last night determined that I would get up 15 minutes earlier than I normally do, so I could have more time in the morning.  Ideally I’d like to have an extra half an hour in the morning, but 15 minutes should be more achievable.

At 6:00am the radio turns on.  I roll over.  The newsreader merges into a background hum as my sub-consciousness drags me back into the dreamscape.  When a child inserts herself between the sheets next to me, I roll towards her and snuggle her warmth close.

6:30am – the alarm on my cell phone chirps.  The plan is to get up in another 15 minutes, so I push the snooze (or did I click “off”?) and tuck the phone under my pillow.  I try to actually listen to the radio news.  I find myself hearing the North Island weather, bit drift back into oblivion before the forecast for Christchurch.

I’m wedged between hubby’s back and the sleeping child.  There's a cat curled up at my feet.  I feel warm and cosy.  My eyes are still closed.  I tell myself that it’s time to start moving, but nothing happens.  I visualise myself getting up and having a shower.  I start dreaming about the bathroom.

I become aware that the radio announcer is reading the news again.  I open one eye – 7:05am.  I realise that I can’t remember any of the news items from the previous bulletins, so decide to listen to it again.  The house is still and dark.  No-one else is moving.  My eyes gradually close.  I try to will my eyes to reopen.  There is no response.

I finally pull myself out of bed, tucking the bedding back around the sleeping child, and head into the bathroom.  It’s now 7:15am.

When I’ve finished my shower, I sit down for my morning prayer.  I try to focus on the Psalm I’m reading, but one eye is still on the clock.  It’s now 7:25am and I need to be having breakfast in 5 minutes if I want to be ready to leave for work on time.  I finish the readings, and realise that I haven’t really taken anything in.  I want to be able to spend some more time re-reading and reflecting and praying, but instead I close my Bible and head for the kitchen.  Tomorrow, I promise myself, I’ll get up 15 minutes earlier so I have more time to pray.  15 minutes should be achievable…


CCI19072011_00000 I’m aware that my faith is not at the depth I would like it to have.  I could make all sorts of excuses about why I’m not putting more time into my spirituality – tiredness, busy-ness, earthquake disruptions – but at the end of the day I know that I need to be more disciplined in my spiritual practices.

I’ve been reading this book on and off for the last few months.  But there’s a gap between the reading and the putting into practice.  Is that just me?

I’ve decided that I’m going to try working more slowly through the book and actually try to put each discipline into practice.  I don’t want to rush through each chapter – I’ll spend two or three weeks on each discipline until I have mastered  reached some competency  gained a very basic grasp of each one. (Don’t worry, Craig, I have a copy on order from Book Depository, so you won’t be waiting a year for me to return your copy.)

These kinds of challenges are always easier to do with others.  Is there anyone out there interested in joining me?  Drop a comment below to let me know.  Then buy, borrow or beg a copy of the book and have a look at chapter 1.  I’ll pop back each week with how I’m getting on. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm Loving... WotWots

I don't often do these linky things - but today I really needed to "Love" being loved.  I've blogged the full story over at my "Family" blog:

Vici Emarjay: I'm Loving... WotWots: "J loves the WotWots. What's a WotWot I hear you ask? J is right in the middle of the target age group for these characters..."


Monday, July 11, 2011

Community - The glue that holds us together

We humans are social creatures. We are not designed to function well in solitude (the odd hermit making an exception usually turn out rather odd, which proves my point).

Here in Christchurch we have rediscovered the importance of community. 

Miss Seven takes water to a classmate
a few days after Feb 22nd
Our neighbours have become so much more than just people who happen to live in the same street. Within a few minutes of each of the main quakes - even at 4am on 4th September – our neighbours knocked on our door to make sure we were okay. The night of the 22nd February was spend camping on our neighbours lounge floor – just to be together. We've got a bond, a shared connection from having come through life changing experiences together, from supporting and helping each other. 

I wrote about the rootedness I've found in Christchurch. I've realised that it's not so much the physical place (although it plays its part) it's the people, the community. I like being able to know and become friends with my neighbours. I like being on first name basis at the dairy, the greengrocers, my favourite cafe. I like being able to stop and say hello and chat with people I know when out and about shopping. It's the connectedness to these people that gives me a sense of belonging.

At least 5,000 families in Christchurch are going to lose their neighbourhoods that have bonded so strongly, as they queued for water tankers or portaloos. These neighbours became the strength and support that have brought these families through disaster. The financial reimbersment for the house and land from the insurance companies and government will never make up for what is really being lost – the community that will be fragmented by the dispersal of these families to other parts of the city, country and world.

In February we grieved in community. Now, we hope and rebuild in community.

One of the key themes from Share an Idea was the need for the new inner city to focus more on people than buildings or things.

Didn't it stir the hearts of all of us when we saw the thousands of students heading out with their shovels an wheelbarrows. Power company technicians working around the clock to rig emergency cables to restore power in our crippled city. The international USAR teams crossing the globe in our hour of need. The whole country decking out in Red and Black, and filling donation buckets.  The shared grief and shock and solidarity when we heard about Japan's quake and tsunami.

In the last 11 months since I started blogging I've found a different community again – the online community. I never realised that blogging was so much of a dialogue, how much you could get to konw people you'd never met. I never realised how much you – all of you – would become friends, even from around the world.

It was special to be able to be invited to the Christchurch bloggers get together last week by Miriam, and actually meet in person a community that I'd become a part of.

Community is vital for a thriving and growing faith. When my own faith wavers and prayer becomes difficult, by praying together with others who share my faith builds up my own.  It goes beyond attendance at worship services, it's also the sharing of life together.  Our congregation also makes the effort to have regular social events, ranging from a lunch once a month, to a more elaborate annual family event.  While they're fun, I think they're also important for building those connections, so we become more than just a bunch of people who happen to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning in the same place. 

The events of the last 10 months have reminded me of how important these different parts of my community are.  I need to keep reminding myself, otherwise as time moves on it would be so easy to forget this, and begin to take them for granted again. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A blessing upon the hearth

On 22 February our chimney was damaged.  It was assessed as "Urgent repairs".  That was four months ago.

Whenever we'd asked all we could find out was that we're somewhere in the waiting list for repairs.  We'd given up on being able to use the fire this winter.

Until 2pm today when the tradespeople knocked on the door.

It felt very exciting and significant.  We made a little ceremony as we lit the first fire.

A blessing upon your new hearth,
A blessing upon your new dwelling, 

Upon your newly-kindled fire. 

Lord, God, Almighty Father, eternal Light and Creator of all lights, bless this new fire. Grant that after the darkness of this world, we may come with pure hearts to Thee, the never-falling Light. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hora, Hoedown, Hula, Hip hop and Hokey Pokey at Hornby Library

It took a long time for the public libraries to open after February.  Our closest library is "accommodating CCC staff and not available for library use."  I had found my way to the nearest open library at Hornby only once in May, and before I could get myself organised to take the family June 13th happened, and all the libraries were closed again.

I discovered with delight over the weekend that Hornby had reopened again.  I even tweeted about dancing with joy at the prospect.  So I promised my children an outing after school on Wednesday to check it out.

I picked the girls up from school and headed for the bus stop.  The girls were jumping and giggling while waiting for the bus.  All the children were wriggling excitedly while on the bus.  They didn't walk from the bus stop to the library, they bounced.

Once there I pointed out the children's section.  

Hornby Library Postquake
The children's section at Hornby Library
Mister Two ran straight to the DVD section, and pulled out a Wiggles disk.  He ran a lap around the children's section, then came back to the DVD shelf and pulled a Chuggington DVD.  Then ran another lap...

Meanwhile, the girls had found another child playing on the computer, so were crowded around watching.
"Come and choose some books, girls."
Miss Five happily ran over, chose a DVD, then spent several minutes browsing the picture books before choosing a handful. 
I caught Mister Two on his lap around the mat, and steered him towards the toddler books.  He grabbed a couple.  "Look at this one," I tried to entice him, "The picture on the cover moves."  Miss Five came over for a look, and I read the story to her.  Mister Two trotted back to the DVD shelf.

Miss Seven was poking at the catalogue computer next to the children's games computer. She was trying to get it to do something interesting, like connect to the internet so she could find an online game.  "The chapter books are over here" I was trying to distract her, "you might find something you want to read there".  Miss Seven ran to the DVD's, grabbed one, then picked out 4 books almost at random from the shelf.  Then went straight back to watching the computer game. 

Mister Two came over with another 3 DVD's.  "No darling, you have enough DVD's.  Lets leave those and we can borrow them another time."  I herded him back to the shelf to put them away.  Then he took off in an anti-clockwise lap.  
"Do you want to come with me while Mummy finds a book?"  
"No," He finished his lap at the computer.  I delegated Miss Seven to keep an eye on him while I headed over to the Grown-Up Fiction section.  As I glanced back around the corner, I spotted Mister Two heading back to the DVD shelf.  
I glanced at the clock.  "Five more minutes then time to go home"
"Awww, but Mum, I've only just started my turn."
" I want a turn too"
"Okay, five minutes turn each then"

I scooped up Mister Two and took the surplus DVD's back to the shelf.  I juggled him on my hip while I went back to the Grown-Up books.  He wriggled back to the floor as I selected a book, and started to aim for the main door.  I dropped the book I'd chosen onto a nearby chair and ran as the automatic door slid open for Mister Two's approach.  I grabbed the boy into a football hold, picked up my book, then went back to the stroller to collect the bag with the children's selections.  On the way past the computer I got the girls to swap turns for the second five minutes.  At the issues desk, Mister Two was happily distracted playing with the stamps. He then got firmly strapped into the stroller for the escape.

When we got home there was only one thing anyone wanted to do.

I think we've all been a bit library deprived.  I don't really know why - it's not like we have any shortage of our own books.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Matariki - Winter Solstice

In previous year's we've had a solstice celebration involving a cosy fire, takeaways and watching videos.  With the log burner out of action this year, I was struggling to find a way to make this year's solstice special.  After reading Liturgy's post I got inspired.

     After the darkest night comes morning
     After the coldest winter comes spring
     After hurting comes healing
     After brokenness comes restoration

I've written the details of our evening on the "family" blog here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home is where the heart is

The T-shirt says it all.
I've been seeing lots of comments on Facebook and Twitter from Out-of-Towners about why stay in Christchurch, and how could you stand watching your kids go all through that stress?  And how on earth can you cope with all of this?  A few days ago I wrote about how I'm coping, and this post will attempt to answer why I'm staying.  (I can only write about my own experiences, and I'm aware that there are many many people a lot worse off than we are, and will feel differently in different circumstances.)

This is my home.  I was born in Christchurch, and spent my childhood here.  This time-lapse video made me feel homesick the first time I saw it, so many of my favourite places in this video are now broken.

These photos are just a handful of what I took over Spring and Summer, between the September and February quakes.  

Spring 2010
Anita from Dreaming Beneath the Spires inspired me when she wrote:
"I have a longing now for rootedness. To stay in a place for a long time. To know its seasons. Its plants and trees and flowers and wildlife. Its history. The same people over a period of years. To settle down."

This city is where I experience rootedness, stabilty, belonging. This is my community.  

At this time my community, my city needs me.  And I need it.  In any other city or town I would feel displaced, a refugee, and not quite belonging.

Botanic Gardens, Feb 2011 Before Quake

Kowhai - Spring 2010. 

Christchurch has some huge challenges ahead as it rebuilds, and it needs people committed to being part of that rebuild.  I've been participating in the community consultation run by the council to put together a plan for the City Centre.  Mayor Bob Parker said at the Memorial Service that we find meaning in what has happened by finding inspiration for moving forward and rebuilding.  It helps to feel that I'm part of something positive, something that brings hope.  

Botanic Gardens, Feb 2011 Before Quake
Peacock Fountain, Botanic Gardens

Hope.  I want to be part of creating a stronger, better city.  I want to be part of a city that keeps its focus on community.  We've learned about how community makes us strong.  Everyone knows their neighbours, and actually does look out for each other.  Strangers look after each other.  The shared experiences of everyone in this city has created a bond between us.  We've just had the Winter Solstice.  In the darkest night of the year is the hope that sunlight and warmth will eventually return.  In the middle of the coldest winter, is the hope of spring.

Faith.  When I felt completely broken it was faith that sustained me.  Not just faith in God, but also faith in this city.  Faith in its people, its communities.  We have a strong spirit, and will work together. We can do this.

Love.    Prince William told us that grief is the price we pay for love.  I love and I grieve, and because I love I will be part of rebuilding and restoring.  Not only my love for this city.  My love for its people.  My love for this community.  Love is what ties everything together.  Love is what makes this my home.

There are some people I know that aren't coping, and have left the city.  Some plan to return once the aftershocks start to settle down, others won't be back.  Each family has different circumstances, and different coping resources.  

But as for me, and my family, this is our home.  This is where we will stay.  We will come through this.  And we will restore and rebuild a better, more beautiful city than before.  And I will be a part of that.

Having a go at a linky thing with Tartankiwi.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poo flinging monkeys

I've been seeing lots of comments on Facebook and Twitter from Out-of-Towners about why stay in Christchurch, and how could you stand watching your kids go all through that stress? And how on earth can you cope with all of this? This post will attempt to answer how I'm coping, and in a few day's I'll write about why I'm staying. I can only write about my own experiences, and I'm aware that there are many many people a lot worse off than we are.

And the poo flinging monkeys? You can thank Nigel Latta for that one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The picture the earth drew

I found this page for a basic home-made seismograph:
Muck Monsters: Science Sunday:Homemade seismograph

Here's how ours turned out:

I installed it on a bookshelf near the floor in my room.  This morning I looked at the paper, and started to get excited when there were patterns on the page.  Then Hubby told me Mister Two had been playing with it.  I put a fresh sheet of paper down.

Then tonight when I was working on my housekeeping accounts I suddenly found myself diving under the desk (again) as the house shook around me.  When my hands stopped shaking and my heart stopped pounding and I finished posting expletives on facebook, I went to check the trace.

It came out smaller than I expected.  It's been quite tricky to get enough pressure on the pencil so the pendulum will swing freely but still leave a line on the paper.  But still, here's a work of art by the earth.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Meet The Muntstones

A sense of humour is essential around here these days. This made me laugh.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another shaky day

I was woken up the first time by Mister Two.  The clock said 5:55am, so I let him have a cuddle until the radio came on.
He was starting to squirm.  "Elmo?"
"Okay, you can go and watch Elmo."  I turned on Sesame Street, tucked him on the sofa with a blanket, then trundled back to bed.
I was woken the second time by my cellphone alarm. 6:30am.  I reached over and turned it off, then snuggled back under the duvet.
I was woken the third time by the windows rattling in their frames.  I didn't stop to look at the clock.  The sofa where I had left Mister Two is beneath a bookcase.  The bookcase itself is secured, but the books might shake off it.  I ran quickly into the lounge - Boy was running towards me. "Wobble!"  We had a cuddle back on the sofa after the shaking stopped, then I tucked the blanket back around him.  I glanced at the clock on the way to the shower.  6:37am.

I was at my desk at work.  For some reason the internet was running very slowly.  The page I was trying to log onto was still loading ... the desk started wobbling, then the house started rocking.  My workmate shrieked and scrambled under her desk.  I probably should duck under cover too then.  My heart was pounding in my chest as I crouched under my desk.  I checked the time on my cellphone: 2:40pm.  I found it hard to concentrate.  A quick text to let Hubby know I was okay.  His reply - he hadn't felt it.  I appreciated the afternoon coffee an hour later.

I was shuffling my way through some files.  The boss was on the phone to a client, chatting about the earlier shake.  The house started rocking again.  "Hang on" the Boss said, "Here's another one coming through".  I stayed in my seat, bracing my hands against the desk.  I glanced at the computer clock: 4:20pm  This time Hubby text me to let me know he definitely felt that one.  "There's some monkey poo flying around here".  It took more than a minute to stop shaking.  It took even longer for me to stop feeling shaky.

Just another day in the "new normal".

Monday, June 13, 2011

More Aftershocks

GeoNet – Jun 13 2011 - Large earthquakes strike south-east of Christchurch

You'd think we'd be getting used to this, but we're not.

Powerful earthquakes rock Christchurch

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Too much to ask?

The tall, dark stranger with the smouldering gaze, locks eyes across the crowded room…

DSC00369-1 “’Ummy.” A two year old boy starts climbing into the bed next to me.

I open one eyelid. 12:57am. Sigh. “Okay darling, just 10 minutes cuddle then back to your own bed.” I shuffle across and wrap my arms around the small body. He quickly snuggles in and lies still. I shut my eyes. I look around the room, trying to catch a glimpse of the stranger…

Small knees wriggle, digging into me. I open my eyes again. 1:33am.”Come on, Sweetheart, time to go back into your own bed.”

I gather up the warm heavy child, and stumble my way down the hallway, then tuck him back into his bed. During my absence the blankets on my bed have shifted towards the other side of the bed. I tug them part of the way back, and roll over towards the unmoving, deeply breathing husband. I shut my eyes, but the mansion and the ballroom have vanished completely. It’s a moonlit night…

A weight climbs onto the bed next to my back, and starts wriggling under the covers. I turn to check the clock. 1:55am.

“No, it’s time to sleep in your own bed.” I’m trying desperately to be firm. I scoop up the child, tuck him back into his bed, and then head back to my room. Before my eyes are closed I hear the pit pat pit pat at the door. 2:12am. I groan, and drag myself back out of bed before he has a chance to climb into it. “Back to your own bed.”

I tuck him in, then head back to my room. Before I even reach my bed the boy is standing in the doorway. “’Ummy bed.”

My eyelids are aching to be closed. “Tell you what, you sleep in my bed, I’ll go and sleep in your bed”. Maybe if he does follow me back to his room, I can cuddle him to sleep in his own bed then sneak back to my own once he’s asleep. Boy nods, then climbs into my bed next to his Daddy.

In Boy’s bedroom, I snuggle under his covers. The mattress has a different feel, the pillow is softer and thinner. I’m not used to having a wall next to me. Within minutes of my eyes closing, I can feel the heaviness of sleep drift over body.

The handsome prince gazes deep within my eyes, and draws me into his embrace… the radio alarm intrudes into my consciousness, heralding the start of the day.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not-so-good vibrations

Just around the corner from our temporary office stood a beautiful old house. It still stood when I went past at 8:30 this morning.
All day my desk was continually vibrating, sometimes quite strongly. There were a couple of good jolts too. Yet the geonet drums stayed quiet. My nerves were frazzled and my concentration shot. One part of my brain had to keep telling the more instinctive part that it was only "deconstruction".
When I biked past again on the way home tonight this was all that was left. A story that will repeat itself far too much across this city in the near future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RiseUp Telethon to raise funds for Christchurch Earthquake Recovery

I would like to recommend to you all to visit the RiseUp Telethon online and support our recovery in Christchurch.

Your support from around the world is appreciated.

Kia Kaha.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best laid plans

The plan was for me to spend some time this evening writing a blog post then some household bill payments.
The line from Robbie Burns about the best laid plans of mice and men comes to mind.
I'm blaming the magnitude 5.3 shake up we had at 3am this morning.
The hard part of trying to get on with recovering from am earthquake (compared with other types of natural disasters) is how long it keeps on going. And going. For months. Maybe more than a year. Just as I start to feel like I'm making progress at getting on with life yet another big aftershock sends my "alarm monkey" into overdrive and I'm three steps back again.
So this evening's plan now includes chocolate and a dressing gown and a cat and writing this post on my cellphone while turning off my brain in front of tv. And the post I intended to work on will wait for another day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Two copper coins

Over Easter weekend I found myself reading a lot of beautifully written Christian blogs, reflecting on different aspects of Good Friday and Easter.  One or two of them were meaningful and inspiring posts reflecting deeply on profound passages of scripture, but were so beautifully written that I came away feeling more discouraged than encouraged by them.  I could never achieve that level of closeness to God, or depth of spirituality. 

I know I’m not being fair on these writers.  I have no doubts about the sincerity of their faith.  They probably just don’t write about the less spiritual parts of their lives.

I wrote last year about trying to find a deeper faith.  But reality falls far short of that goal. 

I awake in the morning with the best of intentions, and on Good Days I even fit in a prayer time between my shower and breakfast.  (The Not-So-Good Days seem to be the majority.) I go through each day mostly just thinking about the task in front of me – family, work, household chores.  I get to the end of the day, bundle the children into bed and crash onto the sofa with my laptop and relax by surfing online until the screen starts to get hazy.  If I’m not too tired, and it’s a Good Day I might even write a bit in my journal before turning out the light.  On the whole, I don’t feel very spiritual most of the time.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve realised I need to stop comparing my faith with others. 

 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. … 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-22, New International Version, ©2011)

All I can be responsible for is me, and my own response to God.  I can only write about the journey as I find it. 

The reality is this: on the Good Days when I do make the time to pray, it is worth the effort.  I’m not saying anything miraculous happens.  I don’t “sense the presence of God” in any way, or “hear His voice” or even “receive a revelation from scripture”.  But it makes a difference to me that I’ve stilled myself down to reflect and listen.

I’ve been looking back to where I was at a few days after the earthquake, the prayer I prayed then was:

Here I am, Lord. 
I am wounded and broken, my spirit is raw and bleeding. 
My hands and heart are empty, I have nothing to offer, nothing to give. 
But I am here.CopperCoin 015a

The wounded and broken feelings are healing, but I still feel like I have  nothing to offer.  I offer who I am, and it doesn’t seem very much.  It’s like I’ve only got two copper coins, compared to the many rich gifts of others.

But I am here.  And this is my offering.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

It’s Easter Eve. 
In theory I should be spending this time meditating and reflecting and praying.  In practice I’m spending the day quietly reading, and recovering from a mild virus that hit the day before yesterday.
In fact the whole spiritual side of Holy Week has passed me by a little bit this year.  Much like Lent has.  I had every intention of observing Lent, even if I did start a few days late this year.  And while I did keep to my fast in the physical side, the prayer and reflection side of fasting just didn’t happen.
It’s been a strange spiritual journey this year.  What I had expected to be a particularly meaningful Lent, Holy Week and Good Friday haven’t been.  I simply haven’t had the energy to spend the time in prayer that I expected to have.
I read blogs of some very beautiful and spiritual women who do manage to contemplate the crucifixion in profound ways while washing their dishes and tending to their families.  I’m not one of those women. 
Although I’m not setting aside the time to pray, I’m still aware in the back of my mind what the season is.  I’m just tired and weary of aftershocks and stress.
Perhaps this is what the disciples felt?  Friday had been a horrible day – not only had their beloved leader been crucified, they’d also experienced a frightening supernatural darkness, and a major earthquake that shook open tombs.  Shell shocked, and traumatised and grieving.  Wanting to run and hide and wish it would all just GO AWAY. I know what that feels like. 
Steve said last Sunday that this is possibly the first Easter where we are in most need of a Resurrection.  The disciples had no way of knowing what was coming.  They would have felt that other earthquake on the Sunday morning, and taken it for an aftershock (and I think that even in the first century, it would have been observed that earthquakes are followed by more, slightly smaller shakes).  They would have been terrified.  This time last weekend I was diving for cover in a magnitude 5.3 aftershock, that went on for a minute and a half.  So I can relate to that too.
The disciples only had 3 days to wait for their resurrection, but they didn’t know that at the time.  We’ll probably have to wait more than 3 days for our “Sunday” in Christchurch, but when it does come I wonder what it will bring?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Glimpses of Joy

CS Lewis wrote a lot about Joy.  I can’t find the exact quote – but in my paraphrase the glimpses of Joy we experience in this world are but pale reflections of the Joy that awaits us in the world to come.

If we try to grasp and hold onto or seek after Joy for its own sake, we miss the point, and the very experience of Joy slips through our fingers.

Here are some glimpses of Joy that have kept me going this last week:

- My children playing with their imaginations and nature. Punakaiki3-1a

- Exploring and Rediscovering my favourite placesclip_image005 clip_image006



- Finding faces in the cliffs…    


…and goldfish in a garden

- An abundance of Life…
Punakaiki5a                                                     …and signs of re-growth and renewal

- Hearing with your soul the music of creation

- A sunset at the beachclip_image015

Glimpses of Joy are gifts of Grace.  I will accept and appreciate the moment, and drink of the refreshment offered.

Monday, April 18, 2011


One of the things I love about living in New Zealand is that at the drop of a hat you can toss together a short 3 day break to places like this:
There had been a howling southerly on Sunday night.  There was a definite dripping sound on our ceiling beneath the tarp on the roof where our chimney used to be.  I noticed the ceiling panel was starting to warp and bulge ominously.  A bead of water formed near the join of two panels.  Suddenly I felt very vulnerable and insecure.  A flurry of aftershocks (a wibble of wobbles perhaps?) over the weekend hadn’t helped. 
I plugged in some earphones and listened to music and tried not to think too hard about it.  The rain got heavier during the night.  The wind blew the rain hard against our bedroom window.  I tried to bury myself deeper under the covers. 
In the morning, there was fresh snow on the mountains, which was a good excuse not to be ready too early in the morning.  The wind was still bitter.  clip_image003
Hot chips at Springfield helped everyone feel better.
The mountains were spectacular with the first snow dusting of the season.
clip_image004 clip_image005
I told the children to “soak it in with your eyes”.
Once over the main divide we came into open blue skies and brilliant sunshine.  Truly the West Coast at its best.
It went very quiet in the back seat.
I felt a strange tightening in my cheeks at the corner of my mouth.  It has been far too long since I last came here.
This is one of my favourite parts of New Zealand.  Hubby observed that I was getting “energised” about this place.  Just you wait – it’s his first visit here and I’m sure by the end of three days he’ll be just as much in love with it as I am.