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Archive for July, 2014

A fragrant memory

 

A fragrant memory

 

December 13 - April 14 108

I t was the first thing I noticed as I walked through the sliding doors into the foyer of the large Sydney Adventist hospital – the rich enveloping fragrance of a multitude of flowers drifting from the florist shop beside the lifts. I stepped into the lift and rode up to my floor, and as I walked along the corridor to my room a faint echo of that same fragrance came from the flowers in other patient’s rooms.

My five-hour operation for bowel cancer was scheduled for early the next morning, and although I was extremely nervous, somehow the sweet perfume of those flowers lifted my spirits and reminded me that God is on His throne and that there is love and beauty in His world.

When I finally managed to get my eyes to focus a few days after the surgery I became aware of that fragrance once again. I saw that my room was now filled with the colors and perfume of beautiful floral arrangements lovingly sent by friends and family, like a vibrant wallpaper bringing the bare hospital walls to life.

Over the next two weeks as I gradually regained my strength and began to cope with the ugly colostomy and the huge scar that the surgeon had left when he removed the tumor, those flowers helped to sooth my heart and spirit with their perfume and their beauty. Somehow they are linked in my memory with the cheerful little nurse who took the time to rub my back and sing hymns to me while she did. I felt so fortunate to be in a hospital where prayer began every shift and operation.

When I returned three months later to have the colostomy reversed, that same perfume greeted me as I walked in through the doors of the hospital, like the warm welcome of an old friend.

This time when I awoke from the surgery I became aware of a more delicate perfume. When I turned my head I saw on the  table beside my bed a small but beautifully crafted glass swan filled with pink water, overflowing with pink carnations tied with pink ribbons, its image reflected in the small round mirror it sat upon — like the still waters of a glassy lake. I was transfixed by its beauty and the thoughtfulness of the friend who had given it to me, particularly as my favorite color is pink.

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Each day as I battled to cope with the after effects of the surgery and the fear that my bowel would never function properly again, the pink swan with its frilly dress of pink carnations sat serenely beside my bed and brought comfort to my heart.

Today when I walk past a florist shop in a busy shopping centre that same perfume catches my attention and takes me back to that time, reminding me of the goodness of God. I am thankful that He has given me more than 26 years since then to enjoy His blessing and good health, to see my children grow up, marry and have their own families, and to delight in my beautiful grandchildren.

 

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To everything there is a season

To everything there is a season

Autumn seemed to be late in coming this year, but finally summer decided to depart in a blaze of glory. This tree in my street had a luminous quality about it, almost as if showing off before shedding it’s finery and hunkering down for the rigours of winter. phone pictures 292

The last of the roses drooped sadly as the first frosts confirmed winter had definitely arrived. I had so enjoyed their individual beauty and perfume this year, with a longer than usual season, but now it was time for them to also have a rest.


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I look forward to the daffodils poking their heads up through the frost encrusted ground, like small green armies bobbing up in clumps around the garden. With a little encouragement from the warmth of the sun on bright winter days their cheerful splashes of  yellow and gold will soon be brightening those gloomier days when the clouds hang heavily over the city and the icy winds whistle off the snowy mountains and chill us to the bone.

Everything has its time. To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Let’s not live our lives worrying about yesterday or being anxious about tomorrow. Better to seize the day and enjoy the moment.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.

What makes your heart sing?

We are all very different. For many years I tried to be like my clever creative friends, and undertook a variety of craft activities.

I started a patchwork quilt when I was 16, cutting out little octagonal shapes of material, backing them with paper, then hand stitching them methodically together one by one. The idea was that I would use scraps of material from different eras of my life, and the quilt would be a lovely reminder of times gone past – sound familiar? Well, by the time I was in my early 60’s it had grown to about a small cot quilt size – so I figured it wasn’t ever going to fit my queen size bed as I had planned, and took it to the Op Shop. Perhaps some other creative person would pick it up and run with it.

In my early 20’s I tried my hand at making hats, when hats were in vogue, but I don’t remember ever being brave enough to wear one of my creations. I even tried singing in a trio for a few months. Definitely not a good idea! I can hold a tune, but harmony was definitely not one of my talents!

I did have a little more success with china painting. After all, with each firing of the plate you get a chance to improve the design, and with 7 firings for each plate the results weren’t too bad at all. But really, how many decorative plates does one need in the china cabinet?

Another project I took up with great enthusiasm was candlewicking, which involves sewing designs on calico with tiny knots and stitches. I was inspired by a neighbor who had made a beautiful candlewick quilt for her daughter. My daughter became pregnant so I told her I would make a cot quilt for the new baby, bought all the materials, the cute teddy bear patterns, and began earnestly knotting away – until she told me she was having twins, which meant I would need to make two! That finished that. One was a challenge. Two would have been climbing Mt Everest. I gave it away to my sister-in-law to finish. She’s very clever with craft projects.

Of course, through the years I have found other things I love to do which bring me great pleasure, such as growing beautiful roses in my garden, and public speaking, using humour to help people relax and see the lighter side of life. But by my mid 60’s I had finally figured out that a lot of craft was actually more stressful for me than it was relaxing.

The words of a preacher who came to our church many years ago, come to mind – “What is it that makes your heart sing? That song has been put in your heart by God. Find it, and do it well.”

In my early 60’s, with a little more time at my disposal, I discovered, or perhaps I should say re-discovered, that I love to write. For me writing is relaxing. It is sheer pleasure. I have to drag myself away from the computer because I get so involved in the writing process.

I decided to try to record the life stories of some inspirational women who had touched my heart and life over the years. I had endeavoured to prod and provoke them into writing their own life stories, but nothing seemed to be happening.

I had no idea how to go about it, but as I began to interview, question, and record, I discovered my fascination with the creative power of the written word. In my various roles in the church I had written numerous studies, children’s programs, articles for magazines and such like. But this was more intensive stuff. As I applied myself to bringing these stories to life, I began to appreciate the creative power of writing. Words were magic. Words could paint pictures. I was fascinated, and compelled to find new and better ways of saying things. I was glued to the computer for hours on end – playing with words. I discovered that perhaps I did have a creative bone or two in my body. It is the craft of writing that makes my heart sing!  I was hungry to improve my writing skills to do justice to the stories entrusted to my care.

In 2006 and then in 2009 I published two books, firstly Australian Women of Grace and then Australian Women of Courage, each recording the inspirational life stories of five women. In my third book, Inspiring Stories of Life and Faith, released in 2012, I recorded more remarkable stories – this time of both men and women. I was encouraged by the feedback I received from readers, one lady writing … “Thank you for your book!  All the stories were fascinating and inspiring.  What an incredible bunch of women you all are and how brave to share your life with all of us. Each story was so well written and precise, that I found it impossible to stop reading once I had started.”  Details of these books can be found (and books ordered) on my website: www.inspiringstories.net.au

Rather than comparing ourselves and our gifting with others, and beating ourselves up because we can’t be like them, let’s celebrate our differences and enjoy doing the things that make our hearts sing. They’ll be the things that bring us the most pleasure and fulfillment.