Posted in Christian living, gardening, health and wellness, Life, Love, Marriage, Uncategorized

Cruising Alaska – Prostitutes and Marriage

In December 2015 we celebrated our 40th Wedding anniversary and part of our 12 month celebration apart from walking the Camino,  included setting sail in May the following year for a cruise in Alaska.

It was a cruise Paul has always wanted to do and the weather, and cruise liner did not disappoint. It was very different to walking across Spain carrying a pack and almost felt indulgent! It was our first cruise for longer than an over night trip and I really wasn’t sure how I would handle living for 10 days  with thousands of other fellow travellers, eating and doing other “stuff” that I don’t particularly like doing eg drinking or cabarets etc.

But away we sailed! Firstly we spent a few days in Victoria. We would be passing that way later but we really wanted to see the Butchart Gardens without sharing with two thousand other people and for only a few hours. So we walked from the “Waddling Dog” a very quaint British feeling hotel that we fell in love with, including the resident British hound dog – 5th version of the Waddling Dog.

It was a small walk, only about 20 kilometers, but we enjoyed seeing the homes, paths through forests and meeting locals along the way. Walking really lets you see a place from a different perspective.

 

It was a comforting feeling to get the walking sticks back out.

We spent the day walking the amazing paths of flower gardens blooming with tulips and other spring beauties. I absolutely adore gardens and exploring them but the work required to nurture and grown them is colossal. Every sense soaked up the beauty and hard work created by Jennie Butchart and her team.

The next day a great friend of ours from the Camino caught up with us for a little while dropping us off to the ferry to take us to the mainland, with a promise to catch up when we came back with the cruise in a couple of weeks time.

We spent a week exploring British Columbia, staying at our time share in St Ives at Shuswap Lake.  The drive across and the surrounding country were magnificent and just how I always imagined Canada to be.

Returning to Vancouver a week later we then set sail up the Inland Passage.  The weather was amazing each day unveiling breathtaking scenery. Stellar was the word the staff and rangers used often!

One stop was Ketchikan. As we walked around the small town snuggled against the mountains, we discovered Creek Street. Creek Street is a great viewing spot to watch the salmon run although we were a bit early. There was a particular place though that saddened me. It is called Married Man’s Trail. This was the muddy path married men took to visit one of the 20 “houses of ill repute” found on Creek Street in ages gone by. Trust me the street isn’t that long or deep so they must have been falling over themselves!

There is a bridge that crosses over from the main township but the married men followed the trail to the “houses” so they wouldn’t be seen. I watched as many laughed and took photos with “girls” dressed for photo opportunities and all thought it was a good laugh. I didn’t. I thought of the many young girls who would have found themselves possibly trafficked but definitely abused by the men and as well ostracized by the “normal” women of the community.

I found it sad that men felt the need to visit the ladies of the night! The Street was also the place for liquor to be smuggled to in the era of prohibition! So it was definitely a party street.

What I find sad is how men relinquished their vows to visit prostitutes and still do. The Bible says that the marriage bed is not to be defiled. Having to look outside of marriage to be fulfilled is destructive on so many levels. There is of course the physical side of sleeping around which can attract any number of diseases. Then there is the emotional drain of secret keeping as well as becoming emotionally involved with someone else. Finally the spiritual aspect is the most dangerous. Jesus said even to look on a woman with lust was considered adultery! So bottom line looking outside of marriage for sexual satisfaction will lead down the path of destruction!  It will destroy your marriage, possibly your physical life and definitely your spiritual life.

I think of the Butchart Garden and the effort it took to create such a place of beauty out of an old quarry and I stand in awe of that work. Yet similar effort must be given to the marriage relationship to cause it to grow beautiful things. Nurture the relationship, plant good seeds, and keep it fed and watered with love. Also keep the marriage bed fun and faithful!

Don’t find yourself walking down a married man’s lane and heading to a Creek Street – either figuratively or in your imagination.  Marriage is too precious!

Blessings for now

Until next time

NarelleIMG_095020160512_105853IMG_0952

 

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Posted in Christian living, communication, Life, Love, Marriage, Parenthood, Uncategorized

Keeping on Top of Attitudes

How often are we let down by our poor attitude, or those of others around us. Every day we meet someone who challenges our attitudes! It can be as simple as being challenged by our children or spouse before we have left the house. Then as we drive to work or shopping, the person who cuts us off on the highway. Then there is the stand in line or waiting on line for service!

This is not to mention traumatic situations that occur behind closed doors. These are severe stress situations that I won’t broach here too much as they create deeper issues that need to be addressed. However, every day in many ways we are confronted with how we handle testing situations.

Most of us can feel we are alright emotionally and spiritually until we are confronted by our own attitudes towards a situation! Its all good until it isn’t!

The Bible tells us to love others as we love ourselves. So many don’t love themselves and are incapable of  loving others in a healthy manner. So we need to start there by loving ourselves and who we are.

Recently I posted about turning 60 and having felt pretty much invisible during my 50’s. It was interesting to see some of the comments. I think women particularly who don’t have an established career which carries them through that period, find themselves once children leave home, redefining themselves and who they are at this stage. When we don’t know who we are or it is in a bit of chaos, we can find our attitudes start to get smelly. We must understand our identity is not found in what we do but whose we are!

When we forget whose we are and loose our identity at any stage of our life, when we are tired, stressed, have financial worries or health issues, we can find ourselves coming out with some pretty poor attitudes.

It’s then we have to fall back in to the arms of our Saviour and say, “Lord help me put off this stench and put on your fragrance!” The stench of the flesh is sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies.  His is the fragrance of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, kindness.

When I place the mirror of His word up to gaze in to, I see that I must constantly move back into the Spirit. This is hard when you are confronted with situations that make you angry, hurt or offend. When we loose our peace and feel that churn within our gut towards someone we think about who has offended or hurt us, we need to forgive and begin to put on that fragrance again! 20151025_115756.jpg

It is our choice. We chose life or death every day when we are confronted with situations. Taking a deep breath and not allowing the overwhelming anger to envelope ourselves, is the first step.  Count to 10 wasn’t such a silly idea! Don’t confront at that moment in anger. Take time to calm down.

There is a lot more to talk about this but suffice to say for the moment is just breathe!

B – Back away, r – resist, e – emotional, a- action, t – think, h- healthy, e – emotions!

Until next time

Let it go – Let it go – (Frozen theme running through your head now?)

Blessings Narelle

Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, the way, Uncategorized, walking

Camino – How to Get There

In my previous blog I spoke on how to prepare to walk the Camino. In this blog I would like to share on how we actually got there.

As I have said it was a process of preparation over a 2 year process. Losing weight, gaining better health, studying, reading, and of course training by walking regularly were all a part of that process.

I checked on many sites to see what the cost would most likely be to walk the Camino as well as cost of food and accommodation.  We were living back in Australia at the time so an airfare to Europe was a great cost.

  1. So the first thing to consider is when will you undertake walking the Way?

As we don’t like crowds, we decided that either spring or autumn would be our preference to walk. Due to time constraints we settled on autumn. I am an autumn girl and love the colours of fall so this was really great for me.

Weather in Northwest Spain in October is usually warm but not hot, we found this to be so with some cooler days and nights. Generally it was pleasant. You can expect some rain (unless you travel with Paul – more on that later).   Galacia is Spain’s wettest region and on average,  rains 18 days out of 31 in October.  Santiago de Compostela averages between 64 degrees and average lows 55 degrees.

We found these temperatures to be pretty accurate with some fog in certain areas. Some times there were light showers as we headed out in the morning but by mid morning it would fine up to become sunny. Paul had a special anointing and was spoiled with the weather. He prayed because he hates wet feet and started believing for fine weather. Almost immediately the sun came out and stayed for nearly 3 weeks! We really only had a few days of heavier, uncomfortable rainfalls early on – hence the prayers. This is not normal, particularly in Galacia! So be prepared with wet gear and good weatherproof shoes!

The wind and changeable weather on the Pyrenees can not be underestimated and you need to be prepared for that.

We also liked that there was fewer people on the Camino. One issue starting mid autumn was the amount of albergues that were closed or closing for the season. Spring also has the same but reversed with some not being open yet for the start of the season. Winter there are even fewer albergues  open so a lot of research and preparation needs to be done! Summer has its own challenges with so many vying for a bed for the night and space on the walk.

2. You’ve chosen the season, now where are you going to start the walk?

Most choose the Frances Camino which starts most commonly from St Jean Pied de Port. We chose to warm up by walking two days from Bayonne. There are many other points of starting and ways to traverse, France and Spain. It is purely up to you which direction you start from and which way you head. We actually met a couple walking the Camino backwards, starting at Santiago and walking back to St Jean! We chose the most common route to begin with but who knows where we will go next time!

Some of our friends flew or trained it from Barcelona. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you want to start from.

3. You’ve chosen the season and the route, now how much is it going to cost?

The average day:

  1. AIRFARES – Of course this depends on where you are starting from. We flew from Sydney to Paris. From Paris we took a train trip down to Bayonne in the South of France where we actually walked two days to the jump off point of St Jean Pied De Port. From Santiago De Compostella, after having spoken to some people on the Way we decided to self-drive through Portugal and then across to Barcelona where we flew back to Paris. These are all costs that need to be allowed for.
  2. HOTELS – We slept mostly in the Albergues, the hostels that you will find in nearly every town you come to.  At that time of year and in 2015 the fees were about Euro 10-15 per bed per night. I see that some are saying currently it has risen to nearly Euro 30 per night We paid more for the odd hotel stay but rarely more than Euro Euro 30- 35 per night. We wanted to experience being with others but did enjoy the alone nights as well. Some paid much more when they arrived in Santiago staying in an up market hotel to celebrate their completion. On reflection I would do that too next time.  Because we hadn’t pre-booked we had to take what we could get. Summer would be much worse! It is up to you what you choose to pay but I would suggest getting more up to date costs before you head off. Some chose to camp along the Way too but I would be considering what you need to carry to do that!

3. FOOD – We set ourselves a 30 Euro a day budget each, but probably would be closer to 35 Euro per day. We found the Pilgrim meals, a three course meal most towns offer, for 13-15 Euro were fine and economical. We often bought lunch, cheese, bread or other foods, from the little food places or markets along the way. Sometimes we ate at a restaurant but they were fairly inexpensive. Tapas bars are a great way to eat economically too.  It’s your choice on your budget.

4. INCIDENTALS – We probably allowed 10 Euro per day for these including pharmacy items, but I would suggest shopping at larger stores as some of these were very expensive particularly when dealing in Euros.  Mostly I brought medicines and other items from Australia but you must consider the weight factor of carrying as opposed to buying along the Way.

All up our total budget for the two of us was 4000 Euros exclusive of return air fares to Australia and doesn’t include the cost of setting up your kit or travel insurance. This did include our train fare, hire car and flights to Paris to fly home and we had some cash left over. I would have preferred to train it back to Paris but we left the run too late and from an overnight fare costing 100 or so Euros, booking on the day of travel would have cost over 500 Euros – each! So we booked a cheap air fare and flew to Paris for lunch before our flight that night back to Australia. I could then say, “My husband flew me to Paris for lunch!”

These are suggestions and there are a lot of sites with up to date information which I again suggest you read. Some of the forums give great information but ultimately half the adventure and fun of the Camino journey is working it out as you go along!

Bein Camino!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Walking the Camino – How to Prepare

The Camino de Santiago is an 800 km or 500 mile walk through France and Spain. It is a pilgrimage walk that has been around for thousands of years that has many trails originating around Europe. It was said that you could step outside your door and begin the pilgrimage from anywhere in Europe. During the time of occupation by the Ottomans in Jerusalem the Way of St James became a safer pilgrimage and acceptable in the eyes of the church for pilgrimage absolution.

St James was supposedly buried there after having floated there from Jerusalem on a ruder-less boat. I don’t know about that. There are many beliefs surrounding the pilgrimage that many believe or don’t believe but there is one binding factor with nearly all pilgrims who we encountered or spoke to had one thing in common: the sense of being called to walk The Way!

Many including myself when they find out about the Camino Way have a strong sense that not only would they like to do the long walk but there is a strong feeling of “having” to do the walk.

For me it started after I watched the movie, “The Way”, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring his father Martin Sheen.  It is the story of a father who completes the trek after his son dies on the Way getting caught in bad weather: something that is a common occurrence as seen by the memorial headstones dotted along the pathways.

Once I saw the film I knew I had to do it. But at the time I was pretty much chair bound with illness and pain. However, within a couple of years I set the date to make the journey.

It was 2 years down the track, the year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and Paul turned 60. Also, it would give me time to gain my health back, while starting to train for the walk.

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In training in the Philippines. Early hours of the morning because past sun rise, the heat was too much.

One of the first thing I did was buy a pair of comfy training shoes. They were light, a size larger then I needed (to help with blisters), and didn’t confine my feet and cause pain. The first pair of shoes that didn’t cause me pain!

I walked in rain, in the cold, the heat, the day, the dark, by myself, and with others. The time rolled by as the miles did.

So here are some of the preparations myself and Paul underwent to prepare for the Camino.

  1. Set a date – Setting a date  brings the goal into focus and plans will begin to take shape.
  2. Train – Set up a training program and stick to it. I tried to do at least 6-8 kilometers a day more on others in any kind of weather, wet, cold, hot, everything except for thunderstorms – They were a no go!  I would also recommend stretches to build strength. The one I didn’t do enough of was to door more hill climbs.
  3. Carry a pack – The more I started to walk I would add weights to a pack to increase my ability to carry a pack. I even used coral rock in the Philippines to get used to the added weight.
  4. Study – Increase your knowledge of the paths you will follow. Understanding the terrain and what is ahead in terms of weather, and accommodation. Also understanding how diet and water affects walking.
  5. Purchase the correct equipment –

       –  Pack – We changed Paul’s pack right at the end. It has to have a waist band to                 take the weight and not pull on the shoulders.

–  Rainwear  – A good rain coat is important. We will probably go with the Atalaa next time. Our ponchos were ok but not great. They needed to be longer although they were light weight – always a consideration. The Atalaa people seemed to just cruise by unscathed by the weather on themselves or their packs.

Footwear – Of course it goes without saying – correct footwear is a must. I was told to go a size bigger and it worked. Two pairs of socks fill the gaps. Duct tape is a must. Prevents blistering!

Underwear. We opted mainly for bamboo socks and jocks. I would hope for a better fitting pair next time that dried quicker. Also undergarments that wick moisture away from your body too.

 – Poles – this is not last for any reason but they definitely were our definite bring along. Some did walk without them – good luck to them. I would never think of it! They were invaluable. Spring loaded were good but not particularly necessary. We didn’t go very expensive due to financial constraints and it really didn’t seem to make a difference, except the tips do wear out after 40 days of pounding. They can be purchased along the way.

6. Stay the course – There may be  road blocks or at least detours so persevere. Keep focused. Don’t give up!

 

 

 

Auto Immune – It’s not in your head – It’s in your body!

There is so much to write about today I feel a little concerted. I will start with Auto Immune Secrets first though. Auto Immune diseases. As I have said before on a previous blog found here it has taken me years to recover and discover just what was happening within my body. Two burnouts took its toll on my immune system. Finally a diagnosis of Hashimotos and then a realization that food allergies, (night shades) primarily, were creating havoc in my system and finally as I undertook methods to heal with diet changes, medication, prayer, life style changes and I felt like I was a renewed woman

A crisis within my system this past week and a flair up of inflammation caused me to look again at just what is happening and then I found this!  AutoImmune Secrets . If you click on here it will take you to a link that you can join up. So far they are not selling anything except the understanding of what is happening to your body. I related particularly to the story of the first guy Arthur’s story at 1:32. It is my story! Even to the point where suicide became an invasive thought despite my strong belief about that being any sort of option! Praise God He showed me years back how to walk in healing and health that is why this weeks crisis was a real bummer!

I would encourage anyone who is struggling with autoimmune problems such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, lupus, or un-diagnosed issues or been told it is in “your head” when your body is screaming another reality, check this out.

I believe in Jesus as my healer and also believe we need to take care of this body we have been given in maintaining health. This is so hard to do in this day and age with the amount of environmental toxins, and food additives etc, not to mention the stress levels we live under.

But God is good and led me to this site!  AutoImmune Secrets   has come at a great time. I want to see my body completely healed – and this video offers insights and hope to the millions who like myself struggle with keeping on top of  living a healthy lifestyle.

I look forward to Episode 2!

Until next time

I will write the next blog while sipping my golden milk. Thanks Jo Kelvin and Naomi Darg for the recipe!

Blessings Narelle

Posted in Christian living, communication, grief, health and wellness, Life, Love, Uncategorized

Re-living the Pain of Tragedy – Grief revisited

crying lady

With all the blogs, posts and comments regarding the latest mass shooting of people in the United States, it is tempting to enter the debate on why? but I will not get into that. Evil is evil! The tools to deliver evil intent will always be found.

My thoughts run to those who have walked this path before – too many of them. The LA shooting, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the list goes on. So many have lost so many!  Can you imagine the pain each of them feels when something like the Valentine’s Day tragedy occurs again?

It would be like an almost healed wound being torn open again with fresh bleeding gushing out.

The reliving of dread as you hear through social media or friends or television that there is a shooting. The pain of the wait to know if your child or loved one is among the injured or dead. The agony of having to identify the shattered body of those who you saw only that morning wave their last farewell or kissed you on the cheek. The perpetual internal and external screams as you realize the finality of the outcome. Then the ongoing daily pain of grief flowing over you, only to be followed by anger and bitterness toward whoever is to blame for your loss.

Walking the path of the broken as you buried ones whose lives were cut short: Comforting others as you yourself struggle for answers and the what-ifs: Struggling with the knife of grief cutting through your heart every day as you struggle with survivor guilt and the pain of loss: The pain of obscurity as the focus shifts to the next group of victims and your pain is shelved with the faces of the quickly forgotten: These emotions are all that you have to look forward to in the aftermath.

There are few words to say at a time like this for those who are re-living all of those emotions. I have not walked in your shoes. I can not offer wisdom into a situation I don’t understand. I can offer the professional advice for grief management and these are helpful but your journey is your journey.

All I can offer are the words of the wonderful and truthfilled Psalm 23:

Yea though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil because You are with me.

Evil can try to crush but love will prevail! He is with you at this time.

There is also the truth of His name – The Comforter, the Healer, the Prince of Peace.

Nothing can prepare us for the separation of death – It was not what we were created for. It is part of the death sentence of sin, but we can be assured that Jesus said, “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The Devil comes to steal and destroy but He comes to bring us Life. He is Peace and although it may not feel like it right now, Peace and life will come. He is with you during this time of loss. It is times like this where your faith can bloom or shrivel. Faith is comfort.

Know that although I don’t understand your pain completely, myself and many others stand in prayer with you and those around you as you grieve again. We stand with you as you remember your loved ones and their loss. I may not know your name or who your loved one was but I still stand with you to offer you love, and prayer for strength as you face the tragedy again.

In love

Narelle until next time.

 

 

 

Posted in Beekeeping, Christian living, energy, gardening, health and wellness, Hobby Farming, honey, Life, Uncategorized

Tragedy of the Bees!

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Happier times!

So sad this morning as we approached the silence of the remaining hive. The recent blizzard conditions did the damage! The poor girls succumbed to the severe weather.

The wonderful aroma of honey left untouched, wafted up as we finally had some warmer weather when we were actually at the property. We lifted the lid on the bees to check out what happened over the severe weather.

It is an extremely sad sound not to hear the beautiful hum from an active hive.  As we lifted the boxes we came across the odd dead bee until finally we lifted the final box to the sight of our beautiful ladies unceremoniously piled in a heap at the bottom of the hive. I couldn’t believe how disappointed I felt at the loss.

So our first foray into bees this season has become part of the huge statistic percentage  of failed hives. The varroa mite is the largest contributor to a failed hive and we did have our share of them. Someone suggested “Whiffer” pads to trap them and we did find that worked.

However, I think our loss was the problem of lack of time to really “keep” our bees and pay closer attention to them, as well as the severe storms that we experienced on the Eastern Shore, Virginia and East Coast in general early, in January.

We will need to research the insulating of hives more thoroughly this year and do more homework on how to keep them from fleeing and freezing!

It was sad though and I can only imagine how farmers feel when they lose their herds or flocks as seen during some of Australia’s harshest drought seasons!

Anyway we will borrow a spinner and rob the hive of what honey was left by these before other hives become active and rob the honey.

The other hive was picked clean by the “cleaner team” who worked tirelessly for weeks to ensure nothing was left in the abandoned hive – not even a smidgen of wax or propolis  (the “mortar” they use to seal up the boxes) was left. When you consider the effort and time used to build a hive and produce honey I don’t blame them for not having to repeat the process if they don’t have to. This last hive didn’t have time to clean out.

I did find a site that discusses the aspects of insulating which we did attempt but didn’t follow through on, for various reasons. One of his comments is that the moisture content under the roof can sometimes layer, freeze and then in the melt down from warmer whether, fall down and drown the bees. I am wondering if this could have been a major contributing factor as I looked at the mildew at the bottom of the boxes. A link is provided lower down to the site that details more on insulating.

Here are a few lessons I hope we have learned and will remedy this coming year. They are also a reflection of life –

  1. You have to spend the time in “keeping” the bees.  – You can not leave it until you are able or feel like it. Paul  laughed at my blog about bee keeping. He said, “We are bee losers  not keepers!” Time in any animal husbandry is of the essence. You can’t put caring off. 
  2. Learn more. – Bee keeping is a science and we need more understanding and guidance. We have to be ever learning.  
  3. Learn more about wrapping hives particularly for winter – There is a lot of discussion regarding insulation.  I found a great site that explains some aspects of insulating. Click here to check it out  There are many opinions but you have to work out what works for you and learn from others’ wisdom.
  4. Don’t neglect the small things in every day life – There are so many little things in every day life that add up to the greater plan. These bees each only add a small contribution to their hive but each bit adds to the larger scale. They are content and faithful to their “call”. Do we have the same sense of purpose in doing the small things each day? Do the small things with purpose and sense of duty and destiny. 
  5.  Persist – Failure is bound to happen you have to keep persisting and try again.

That’s all until the next bee keeping adventure – Part 2

Until next time

Blessings Narelle