Sunday, March 27, 2011

God is with us – even in tragedy

The world has moved on from the Christchurch earthquake, but we are still left picking up the pieces, trying to rebuild our city and our lives.  You don’t get to see this bit in the media – it’s been overshadowed by other events around the globe.  But even when the world’s attention moves on from Japan or Myanmar their communities will also face the long slow process of recovering.
It’s now been nearly 5 weeks since 22 February 2011.  I’m already reading stories of frustration and anger at the length of time it’s taking to get things back up and running again, even restoring essential services to some areas, and making the CBD sufficiently safe for people to be able to retrieve their property.  The reality is that this is going to take longer than weeks, or even months.  I suspect it will take years to get our lives back into a semblance of normal.
It’s the same emotionally – it seems like I’m still going over the same ground I was last week.  So I apologise to my readers outside of Christchurch if you’re finding this getting a bit boring.  Listening to people in Christchurch I’m hearing that there are a lot of people still finding their way through the grief and trauma, and everyone’s at a different stage in trying to make sense of it all and put the emotional pieces back together again.
As western Christians, it’s easy to find God in the blessings and in the good times.  It’s a lot harder to find God in the tragedies, grief, trauma and darkness.  I’ve heard some people describe their times of depression as feeling separated from God, and they feel like they’ve done something wrong to lose his blessing.
I think God is bigger than just the good things “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).  God is still part of these dark times, even if we feel cut off and abandoned by Him.  The Psalms are filled with prayers where the writer gives voice to that despair.  Just two examples:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest.
(Psalm 22:1-2)
My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”
(Psalm 42:3)
Not to mention the entire books of Job and Lamentations.
After I’d attempted to draft the bulk of this post, the preacher at Church this morning spoke on Laments (Thank you John, if you’re reading this). He said that true worship is not just leaving our troubles at the door and putting on a “happy-clappy” face, but is when we give our whole heart, grief and all, to God.  The expressions of grief and pain and despair are part of deeper, truer, more honest worship.
Listening to the feedback of the congregation, at this time most of us are still feeling a lot of this, and we’re all at different points in the process of working through the feelings of shock, grief, fear, and agony.  One person described seeing the ruins of the Christchurch Cathedral as feeling like “my heart was being ripped out”.  
It’s going to be a long slow process to heal and rebuild, simply because there is so much healing and rebuilding to do.  However, in a decade from now Christchurch will be one of the strongest, safest, modern and most beautiful cities in New Zealand.
As I look around at the people in our community, our congregations, I know that our city will also have Churches of Christians who have a stronger, deeper and more honestly real faith for having come through this time together.  We will find God in the middle of pain, emptiness and grief.

Friday, March 25, 2011


When the ground beneath us trembles
The world comes crashing down
We ask “why” and have no answer
God is with us.

In darkness where I cannot see
“I am here but where are you?”
Prayers can’t come, only grief and tears
God is with me.

Everything you hold onto crumbles into dust
Where do you turn, where can you run?
There’s nothing left to stand on, nothing is left
God is with you.

(By Claudia McFie 25 March 2011)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


My city is needing to be rebuilt.  So is my spirit.  Just as the first step of rebuilding the city will be to establish its foundations, I think the first step of rebuilding myself emotionally will be re-establishing my spiritual foundations. 

I said in my previous post that at my core I found faith.  Even when I feel numb and empty I still believe that God is real, and walking through this stuff with me.  So having found my core, where from here?

It’s about connectedness, about community.  The memorial service last Friday highlighted that to me.  We've come through this as a community, by working together.  The greatest accolades at the Memorial service were for the emergency workers, the USAR teams, the volunteers.  But there was also tribute paid in the speeches to each person who’s helped their neighbours in many small ways.

As humans, in time of crisis we reach out and connect with each other.  I’ve noticed that each time I talk to someone I haven’t seen since 22 February the first thing we do is take time to listen to each other’s story of where we were, and how we’ve been coping.  Once we’ve regained the connection that was shaken in the quake we can start talking about other things.

But there’s also the spiritual need to connect back to God as well, which is the harder bit.

I feel there’s a fundamental link between my sense of needing to re-connect with other people and the community, and needing to re-connect with God.  Jesus told us to love God with all our being, and love each other just as much as ourselves.  The two go together. 

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1John 4:7-11)

The thing is, this is like Christianity 101 – the basic stuff that I’ve believed for decades.  God loved us enough that he gave Jesus to die for us – the whole message of Easter.  It’s foundational belief, at the core of my faith. 

Later in the same passage it says “We love because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19).  My first foundation is that God loves me, and wants to reconnect with me.  Then that is the source of the second foundation: to love others. 

The connection with the community is so far only on one level - most of what I’ve done has been “surface” connections, day to day survival stuff.  To be able to make a deeper, more spiritual connection with other people, I need to first be connected back to God. 

The World-famous-in-Christchurch Steve Graham preached a sermon back in November (between the quakes) about living with the awareness of “The Ancient of Days”.  I listened to it again the other day.  If you have a spare half hour it’s well worth listening to.  He said it doesn’t need to be highly religious stuff, it’s just doing the every day stuff in the presence of God and with the awareness of His love. 

I can’t put it any better than Steve did: “I live my life in the presence of an Eternal God, whose covenant love never left, and who wants to partner with me to help me do life well and honour him with the little choices of every day life”

Friday, March 18, 2011

National Christchurch Memorial Service

Hagley Park, Friday 18 March 2011.

Highlights for me were:

The arrival of the USAR teams.  Each group that arrived was greeted to a heartfelt standing ovation.  These are the people that put their own lives at risk to pull people from the rubble.  They got the heroes’ welcome, and it was well earned.  The service seemed to be as much a tribute to the emergency workers and volunteers, to the community spirit of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury than it was remembering those who perished.

The two minutes silence.  It was eerie standing in such a huge crowd and it was completely quiet.

Mayor Bob Parker’s speech:  I think one of the reason’s Bob Parker has been so popular over the last six months is his ability to articulate so well what we’re all thinking and feeling.  In this case what spoke to me was where he said that we find meaning in what has happened by finding inspiration for moving forward and rebuilding.

Prince William’s speech:

The quote for the week; “Grief is the price we pay for love.”  Also the tribute he paid to the Canterbury spirit:

Courage and understated determination have always been the hallmark of New Zealanders, of Cantabrians. These things, the world has long known.

But to see them, so starkly demonstrated, over these terrible painful months, has been humbling.

Put simply; you are an inspiration to all people.

I count myself enormously privileged to be here to tell you that.

We just think we’re coping like anyone would cope.  We’re not doing anything special.  But if we can inspire others to step up and become more, then we’ve made a good contribution to this world.

Prayers: Among the prayers of the faiths, the following stood out for me:

Lord, at times such as this,
When we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
We plead for your mercy.

As the things we have built crumble about us,
We know too well how small we truly are
On this ever-changing, ever-moving,
Fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.

Do not forget us now.

Comfort us, Lord, in this disaster.
Be our rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
And shelter us under your wings when homes no longer

Pierce, too, hearts with compassion,
Who watch from alongside,
Move us to act swiftly this day,
Too give generously every day,
To work for justice always,
And to pray unceasingly for those without hope.

And once the shaking has ceased,
The images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
And out thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
Let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.

For though the mountains leave their place
And the hills be tossed to the ground,
Your love shall never leave us,
and the promise of peace will never be shaken.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth,
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Now and forever. Amen

(Author unknown, originally written for the Haiti earthquake).

Amazing Grace:  What can I add to this.  Wow.

Our National Anthem: I think New Zealand has one of the best national anthems in the world – it’s a prayer.  Look at the words of what we’re praying. 

The “Crusaders anthem” video montage at the end.  Another standing ovation to the rescue workers, and also the ordinary volunteers who have helped in many different ways these last few weeks.

Dave Dobbyn: Welcome Home and Loyal.  This guy’s songs really strike a chord in these times. 

Overall, I felt this service, as well as acknowledging the lives that have been lost, also paid tribute to the rescue workers, volunteers, and also ordinary Cantabrians who just helped their neighbours is whatever way they could.  This generation is going to be a very special generation, especially the students and youth that served above and beyond what they thought they had in them.

I felt that we are a community, not just a city full of individuals, and it’s shared experiences like this that link us together into that community spirit.  I’m glad I made the effort to take the family to this event.  I think watching it at home on TV, you’re watching it as an individual. Being there, I was part of it.  I was standing with the crowd, weeping with the crowd.  I was connected to the community that we were paying tribute to.  It is together as a community that we will come through this, and rebuild a new and better Christchurch. 

Kia Kaha.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the core

Trauma and grief have the effect of stripping away the superficial and leaving you confronted with what’s left. 

In the first two weeks after the Christchurch Earthquake I felt like I was existing at two levels.  The surface level focussed on survival, boiling water, preparing food, caring for the children, just functioning from day to day.  That was only a thin layer over the emotional level.  I couldn’t pray, because it felt like the part of me I normally prayed from was just a gaping hole.  All I could do was cry.  The best metaphor I can think of was as if part of my spirit had been ripped out from me, leaving a raw, bleeding wound.  My mind told me these are “normal” feelings after a traumatic experience.  My heart could only curl up and cry.

I’ve come to the opinion that crying is a prayer – a deep, gut centred prayer that groans beyond words.

Two different images come to mind as I write this, both are from C.S. Lewis.

The first is the scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Eustace is transformed back from being a dragon, by Aslan painfully ripping off the layers of dragon-ness to restore the boy underneath.

The second is a scene from one of Lewis’ novels called ’Till We Have Faces.  The character Orual has travelled to confront the gods with a complaint.  In the process of reading out her complaint in the divine court, it becomes clear that it is filled with excuses and self justifications.  Once these excuses have been stripped away, she is left confronted with who she really is, and the ways in which she, too, has been at fault. 

When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years, which you have, all the time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words.  I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, not let us answer.  Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

What is left once all the masks have been removed?

In the last few weeks I have found the deep core of me.  At that core, my prayer was:

Here I am. 
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.

There has been no immediate answer to that prayer. No light shining, no dramatic lifting of my spirit.  I haven’t felt or sensed God’s presence in any way.  But I believe that God was still there.  He was in the darkness.  He was part of the crying, and He heard that prayer.

The symbols of Christian communion are particularly meaningful to me.  The bread symbolises the Body of Christ, which was broken in sacrifice on the cross, for our redemption from our brokenness.  The wine symbolises the Blood of Christ, which was shed for our healing and restoration.  My heart has been broken, my spirit has bled.  Yet in the message of Easter, the crucifixion and the resurrection, through the willing sacrifice of Christ, there is hope.

No, I’m not there yet.  I’m better than I was.  I can pray now, when I couldn’t before.  I still feel the grief, I’m still prone to tears.  Yet deep within me I found my core, and within that core is faith.  That is enough.

Prayer for Japan

As traumatic as the Christchurch earthquake was for those of us who lived through it, it pales in comparison to what Japan is now suffering.  Christchurch was “just” an earthquake, from what I can read on the internet, most of the devastation in Japan has been caused by the tsunami generated by their 8.9 magnitude quake offshore.

My feelings are rather subdued and muted.  I’m saddened and concerned by the news I’ve read online, but I’m not experiencing the deep overwhelming grief and shock I did for tragedies closer to home.  Given I’m still in recovery from the trauma of Christchurch I don’t think I could stay sane if I did. 

I do however feel a sense of empathy for the Japanese people.  Although our tragedy was on a much smaller scale, it was only 19 days ago that I was experiencing something similar to what they’re going through.  There is a bond from shared experiences. 

Many people have made encouraging comments to Canterbury praising the strength and resilience of New Zealanders.  I would like to add that from what I can see, the Japanese are also a strong and courageous people.  Let us hold hands together from the other end of the Pacific, and working as a team both our nations will recover together.

I know that even one week ago I was not able to pray coherently.  Crying is a deep kind of prayer – a groaning in the spirit.  When I was in that place it was helpful beyond words to know others around the country were praying for me.  So now it’s my turn to be the one praying for others.

I pray for those injured or trapped, that they will be rescued and brought to safety.  I pray for survivors who are traumatised and in shock.  I pray that they will find comfort, a shoulder to cry on, someone to hug.  I pray they will come through this, and find the light on the other side of the darkness, even though it will seem impossibly far away at the moment.  I pray for rescue teams and emergency workers, that they would find the strength, courage and endurance they need.

And I pray that deep down in their spirits, the people in Japan will know in some way that they are being loved and supported by our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


My prayers are for Japan today.  I have some inkling of what they're feeling, and feel some small degree of kinship, although no two disasters will be exactly the same.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


It was Ash Wednesday yesterday.  The first day of Lent.  Two and a half weeks ago I have every intention of observing Lent this year, but with everything that’s happened since it’s snuck up on me, and I only remembered after 3 cups of strong coffee and half a dozen squares of Dark Ghana chocolate (the things I was considering fasting from).

I’m still undecided whether I actually want to fast this year or not.  In some ways I think it might do me some good, help me re-connect to some spiritual disciplines that have got a tad disrupted.  The whole point of fasting is that it’s of spiritual benefit, and perhaps that will be part of the process of my emotional restoration.

I wrote last year about wanting to find a way deeper into my faith.  I felt at that time that I was just skimming the surface, going through the motions of prayer and Bible reading.  I’d been finding that the desire to go deeper doesn’t easily translate to actually achieving it. I was still just working though my routines of Bible reading, prayer and worship, but not making that deeper connection I was hoping for.

In the last 16 days I’ve found a deeper place within me.  It’s a place that grieves beyond words, where emotions are so raw I haven’t been able to pray, I could only cry.  I can carry on with daily survival and living, and appear to be “normal”.  But beneath that surface is this broken and wounded soul, that I can’t even find the words to describe.  And I suspect that many of the people around me are feeling something similar.

So I think I will give Lent a go this year, even if I do start two days late.  It’s not just about giving up something for 40 days, it’s about making that effort to reconnect to my faith, to pick up my Bible again, to resume my daily prayers.  I think of Lent as a time for reflection, especially about Easter, about the sacrifice that Christ made for us.  It’s a time for self examination, for repentance and a refocusing on what’s really important in the “big picture” of life.  And above all, the story of Easter is the story of God bringing restoration to humanity, which is something I want to spend some time on.  I’m going to try to use my experiences of the last few weeks, to incorporate them into what my faith means to me. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Wellington Recap

Now that I’m back at my home computer, and have an evening to catch up, I’ve backdated my experiences in Wellington in the posts below:

Rant at Air New Zealand: Wellington Day 0

Wellington Days 1 and 2: Downtown and Porirua

Wellington Day 3: Sunday

Wellington Day 4: Friends

The slow road home

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The slow road home.

Like I said: if it’s going to take 12 hours to get home anyway, I’d rather be moving for that time instead of sitting around in an airport terminal, with the uncertainty of whether we’d even get a flight.

We caught the morning ferry from Wellington to Picton.  The children were excited to be going on board such a “big” boat.  They could explore the different areas, watch the boat leaving the harbour, then downstairs to play in the playground in the bottom deck.  (I didn’t encourage them to stay there too long – I still get a little bit claustrophobic when I’m in a windowless place).  Then a “family” lounge where the Disney channel was playing, and I could sit near the window and watch the scenery.

There’s something about the stillness of Queen Charlotte Sound that just lifts all the tension you didn’t know you had left.  It will always be one of my favourite places in New Zealand.  I could feel myself still down and relax just by being there.

Even the five hour bus ride was less stressful that I expected.  The hypnotic white noise and steady pace of the bus lulled each of the children to sleep. 

We finally pulled into Bealey Ave.  I pulled back the curtain to the sight of a port-a-loo on the corner.  You know you’re back in Christchurch when…

And why do the aftershocks always know just when I’ve tried to go to bed before they hit?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wellington Day 4: Friends

When I published on my blog my intention to come to Wellington for a recovery break, it seemed that everyone I knew in Wellington wanted to have a catch up while I was there.  I’d had lunches or afternoon tea with three of those friends on the first three days.  If I’d gone with my original travel plans it would have not been possible to meet with everyone I wanted to, but with gaining two days, I set aside Monday for meeting up with those who were left that I could get hold of.  (If those I didn’t get to are reading this, please accept my apologies.)

I cannot express enough how much it means to know there are people thinking of us and praying for us through this time.  Friends have been telling me they wish they could do more to help, but please don’t underestimate the emotional and spiritual support.  An email, a letter, a txt.  All these gestures have been appreciated more than you can ever realise.  Even going out there and wearing Canterbury colours across the country. Thank you to all of you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wellington Day 3: Sunday

The original plan had me spending Sunday in an airport terminal.  The rearrangement of my return trip gave me an extra two days.  I had been invited by one friend to attend a large church in the city, but after last Sunday's experience decided to opt for accompanying my hosts to a smaller, local congregation.
I felt the tears welling up at the first song, and they didn’t stop much for most of the service. The preacher spoke about hope, with reference to the earthquake – what I suspect was a common theme from pulpits across the country.  There was nothing much new in what he preached, although there were a few bits I privately disagreed with.

One thing he talked about was the increase in liquor sales after the quake.  His comment was that people who don’t have faith don’t have anything else to lean on, they place their sense of security in houses and employment, and lose hope when those things are no longer secure.  I felt that was not an accurate picture of what was happening emotionally in people.  I think what a lot of people in Christchurch have been feeling is a deep shock and grief: it’s not about the buildings or the jobs, it’s about the loss of lives, the ongoing aftershocks and the uncertainty each time whether this will be another big one.  So many of the stories I’ve heard have been people who came close to being a victim.  A few meters down the road, or a few minutes before going out to buy a sandwich, or just missing a bus.  An overwhelming sense of “it could have been me under that rubble”.  Those who were in the suburbs, and not in immediate danger have also found intensity of the shaking was traumatic, even before they were aware of the level of devastation in the CBD.  Faith or not has made little difference – everyone has felt their soul ripped out of them.

I believe that God is with us, even in our darkest times, when we can’t feel or sense anything of Him.  I may not be able to feel much faith at the moment, but I know it’s there and in some way it’s part of all this, and in time it will return and my spirit will begin to heal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wellington Days 1 and 2: Downtown and Porirua

Got myself and the children dropped off near Parliament.  It was a gusty Wellington wind, and when stopped at an intersection Mister Two cried “wobble?” when the wind was shaking the car.  At least the Parliament buildings are on rubber foundations.  We didn’t get to see those rubber foundations during our tour, because the Civil Defence bunker in the basement was in use for the state of National Emergency.  But we did get to see the debating chamber, and committee rooms.  About 60% of the tour group were from Christchurch.
Walked around the waterfront towards Te Papa.  Got a bit apprehensive walking past some historic brick buildings on Queens Wharf.  Locals have since assured me they’d been strengthened, but so had Christchurch Cathedral.  I chose to walk on the opposite side of the road.  My nerves are still not what they used to be.
Te Papa also had nice rubber bearings in the foundations.  Outside the main door is a small basement display showing one of the rubber bearings behind a glass window, and a model demonstrating how the building stays still when the ground beneath it shakes.  I like.  According to Geonet, during the time we were in Te Papa Wellington experienced a “wobble” – and we didn’t feel a thing.  Would have been nice to stay camped out there… but I suspect they wouldn’t let us.
One of Te Papa’s displays was about the Edgecumbe earthquake, including a small house that simulates the level of shaking experienced at the time.  I explained to my children that it was only for people who didn’t know what earthquakes feel like, and they didn’t need to go in there because they did know what earthquakes feel like.  Miss Seven went through three times and thought it was fun.  (The younger ones weren’t keen – Mister Two was getting upset just watching the little house move on the outside.)  However, it was useful to use the other parts of the displays to try to explain plate tectonics and why earthquakes happen.
We also spent lots of time in the other displays around Te Papa, then “did” the Cable Car and visited Carter Observatory.  (I was sort of trying to keep things educational).  It brought a lump into my throat walking through downtown Wellington seeing people dressed in red and black (Canterbury colours) and shop windows with displays of “We ♥ Chch”.  I wanted a little badge saying something like “I’m from Chch”
It was much the same the next day when I went into Porirua to find a public library (and hopefully internet access) to print out the new travel bookings Hubby had emailed me.  All the shops in the mall were decked out in red and black, as were the staff.  Every counter had a red cross tin collecting for Christchurch.  The lump wedged itself back into my throat, and there was a hint of tears behind my eyes.


Just a short post at a library computer.

Got a bit emotional seeing all of Wellington decked out in red and black to support Canterbury.  Thanks for all your support everyone around New Zealand, it really does mean a lot.

Will do some more detailed blogging when I'm back at my home computer.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rant at Air New Zealand – Wellington Day 0

The problem with the special $50 fares that Air New Zealand were offering as “compassionate” was that they were only available on stand-by.  The flights between Christchurch and Auckland were already fully booked, and the airline then sold an additional aeroplane’s worth of “stand-by” tickets on top of that, that could only wait until someone cancelled, or just didn’t show up.  I was travelling by myself with three children, so I knew it would be a long wait to find a flight that had four seats available.

I didn’t realise it would be a 10 hour wait, most of it in a stuffy, windowless, claustrophobic stand-by area, filled with people that were desperate to leave, and already stressed and anxious from living through the aftermath of a major natural disaster.  There was no seating, and part of the corner we were in was also the queue towards the group check-in.  A flight got cancelled part way through the day, so suddenly flights were coming and going, and not one stand by passenger got their name called.

In the end, the check in staff suggested that if I could get myself from Palmerston North to Wellington, there were seats available on the flight to Palmerston North that was leaving right now, and that would be the only way I could fly out of Christchurch that day.  If they couldn’t put me on a plane, I would just have to come back tomorrow and start again (not likely).  Stand by fares are not refundable – that’s just the risk you take flying stand-by.  I took it.  Hubby got on the phone to my hosts-to-be in Wellington, and organised for one of them to drive the hour and a half each way to Palmerston North to collect us from there.  Above and beyond the call of duty – I had been thinking I would need to find a bus or train, which was probably slim pickings by 6:30pm.

In the end it was 12 hours after we left home before we arrived at Porirua.  I phoned Hubby to let him know we’d arrived, and there was no way I was ever going to go through that again.  The return trip was rebooked (writing off the stand by tickets WINZ had already paid for – they’re non-refundable remember).  If it’s going to take 12 hours to get there, I’d rather take the ferry and the bus than sit around in an airport (at least I’d be moving).  There wasn’t much difference in price between the two modes of travel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Little things – 1 week after #chch #eqnz


Yesterday I biked across suburbs to have a coffee catch up with the boss and other staff.  The long and short of it is that we still have a job, it just won’t be back in the CBD for a long time.  Boss is sorting out temporary premises in the suburbs. I’m quite glad about that.

Biking seems to be the best way of getting around these days.  The roads at this end of town are chocka.  It’s the west side of the city where everything is starting to reopen, so people are travelling across town to get here.   I had to unbury my bike from the back of the garage where it’s been hiding since I got pregnant with Miss Seven.  I was impressed – it only needed some air in the tyres, oil on the chain and one nut tightened.

Miss Seven after observing this work, wanted to have a go at riding her bike without training wheels.  It took 10 minutes with Daddy helping her and she had the two wheel thing sussed.  I took her for a bike ride today to find some playgrounds that are normally beyond walking distance.

I didn’t get a very good sleep last night.  There were a couple of jolts just as I’d gone to bed, and I spent the rest of the night waiting for the next one.  Mister Two was restless as well, and after getting up to him a couple of times I brought him into our bed, where he continued wriggling and squirming, so Hubby didn’t get to sleep very well either.

The lack of sleep is definitely taking its toll.  At this stage I’m feeling an undercurrent of anxiety the whole time.  It’s not overwhelming in its own right, but it just doesn’t go away.  We went shopping the other day to Smith City in Bush Inn, and walking into the shop the first thing I do is look around for the structural columns and figure out where I’d need to be if it started shaking.  I don’t like walking past tall buildings at all.  I’m always partially keeping my distance from any wall over head height. (Another reason why biking’s good – compared to walking you’re that much further away from those six foot concrete block fences that some posher suburbs in Christchurch are so fond of.)

The Urban Search and Rescue teams are starting their suburb sweep.  We had a team of two knock on our door to see if we were okay.  I mentioned our cracked chimney, and they reminded me of the risk of it coming down inside the house.  I was already conscious of that risk, so felt even more anxious after that visit.  Phoned Housing New Zealand again about the chimney.  Yes, they could see that job had been logged a week ago and referred to the contractors.  No, they had no idea of how long it would take.  If you’re not feeling safe perhaps you need to consider finding somewhere else to stay in the meantime (but no offer of assistance to find that alternative somewhere to stay, nor are we in the right part of town for a credit on our rent).

Hubby suggested taking advantage of one of the many offers of accommodation from our friends all over the country.  By the end of the afternoon I was in possession of a WINZ grant for return standby flights to Wellington for myself and three children (Hubby will stay to look after the house and his business).  The goal is to get a few nights of good sleep so I can return to Christchurch refreshed and ready to carry on.  The irony of considering Wellington as a destination to escape from earthquakes has not been lost on me.  My host-to-be assures me they haven’t had one in a while.  Don’t know if that helps or not – does that mean one’s due?

It’s all those little things that add up.  The chimney’s not a big deal in its own right, but it’s on top of my own “nerves”, the children are showing signs of being unsettled and scratchy, Mister Two still won’t let go of me without a fight, and a lack of good sleep.  Just having a change of scene, and maybe a chance to reduce that list of little things will help.