Posted in Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Love, Parenthood, Uncategorized

The Birth of

I wrote this while waiting for my 6th grandchild to be born in 2012. What was it? Tell you later…

Well today is D-DAY Delivery day. What a long 9 months it has been. But we have so much to be thankful for.

Where do we begin with this past 12 months? Josiah’s diagnosis of A.L.L. Acute Lymphatic Leukemia saw us in and out of hospital until just recently. We have traveled a long road; diagnosis; shock, treatment, ecstatic as responses to treatment, and pain of watching him go through the distressing mucositis which ulcerated his entire mouth and esophagus down to the anus; loss of hair; ballooning and gorging from the steroids to all the fevers and sicknesses from a compromised immune system.

After finding out in April this year intensive chemotherapy was over and maintenance would begin we were shocked to discover Sherri was pregnant.

They were not sure how it happened. Come on – after 3 children! But the treatment of Josiah had caused a bit of a mental block as is often the case with parents with children undergoing treatment. So number 4 is being awaited. We are sitting here in the labor ward as I reflect on the past year and its highs and lows.

After the high of Josiah finishing his intensive program early, and discovering Sherri was pregnant, we were hit with another blow. Sherri was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension: A disease of the heart and lungs that ultimately and worse-case scenario ends in death of the mother, or perhaps requiring a heart lung transplant. However, after weeks of levels climbing we called for prayer!

Doctors were amazed when after only a few days in hospital undergoing bed-rest and no other intervention, her levels came down! Doctors went back to the drawing board because the levels of this disease, NEVER go down. Despite another diagnosis of some “Anomaly”  levels have not gone back up over the past 9 months. After a projected delivery date of 28 weeks, here we sit at 36 weeks awaiting the birth under very calm, happy conditions with Sherri’s strength intact and in fact stronger than at the beginning of the pregnancy with no symptoms of breathlessness or fatigue.

So we stand amazed at the hand of God over her life. I remember after spending a night of research lying, crying in the arms of my husband saying, “I wish I could take this on myself – I have had our family she has 4 little ones.” When all of a sudden even as the words came out of mouth I remembered that I didn’t have to take it on myself…that is what Jesus did at the cross. He took our sicknesses and infirmities upon Himself!

That same morning Paul came in to my office and said, “No one has to die to give her a new heart and lungs – Christ died to give her those.” With those two revelations we have been able to stand in faith and in her healing, praying and believing for safe delivery for not only her but her child also.

We also heard a tape on how Satan wants our Seed. But that is another story…Oh by the way – it was a boy!

 

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Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, Life, Parenthood, Philippines, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?

Philippines Journey – Whose Your Daddy?!!

Again this post was written in 2014 after a nice trip up to Manila having a hot shower and sleeping on a comfortable bed (actually a bed and not a piece of foam on the floor) as well as putting on some glad rags for an amazing evening of celebration of the work accomplished in East Samar.

2014 reflections continue….

This week we had the privilege to meet some amazing world changers. The Alverez Foundation set up Pinoy Relief as their disaster relief foundation.  They have affected change using their influence to raise dollars towards amazing projects including, rebuilding schools, homes, and boats to re-establish the fishing fleets lost to the typhoon.

Appl.D.App was there cheering the family foundation on. Who is Appl.D.App I hear you over 50’s ask? Oh…Oh…(hand raised) I know……A singer from the Black Eyed Peas! You know the ones who sing, “Tonight’s going to be a good night!” I have to admit I didn’t have a clue. I know the song and had heard of Black Eyed Peas but didn’t know who Appl.D.App was. But what a nice guy! His story is amazing. He is a Filipino boy who was sponsored by an American and grew up to see his dreams fulfilled.  It’s a great story and he is now giving back to his homeland through promotions and support.

He was just one of the rich and famous at the “Thank You Gala” we attended on behalf of Pinoy Relief and Operation Blessing. So many influential people and for the two of us from the land down under it could have been just a little intimidating!

Paul and I arrived early (actually the first to arrive) which we didn’t mind. We had met the Alverez family the day before as they came for a tour of the work their support had made possible in the Guiuan area. We met the sons and daughter and other family members from New York- A world away from our “place.”  They were lovely people and keen to make a difference in their worlds.

As we sat on the open roof top of the building, only knowing a few people, everyone rocked up and we were feeling a lot like fish out of water – Then we looked up..

We saw the moon and the stars and the reality hit both of us at the same time! We may not be famous or have worldly wealthy but our Daddy made the heavens and earth that we are all sitting under and on: He measures the UNIVERSE in the palm of His hand!

Is 40:12 asks the question, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, marked off the heavens with a (nine-inch) span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance..?”

Whose my Daddy? The one who does that! How big is He? He marks off the heavens with His hand width. That’s pretty cool!

God really doesn’t have a problem with people being rich. His problem is when they forget who enabled them to get wealth and also warns us not to be consumed with riches. He instructs those with wealth to use it well and not wastefully. But we must all realize how infinitesimal in the scheme of the universe we all are!

Our God is big but also cares for the smallest sparrow that dies and knows the numbers of hairs on our head or lack thereof in some cases.  How can we ever feel intimidated by anyone in this world knowing who we belong to?

Today look up see the sun, see the moon, see the stars, smell the air, watch the waves, and know that Your Daddy is the one who made all that and you are His Heir!

Until next time

Look up and remember He’s your Daddy!

Blessings Narelle

A fun video for a fun night – Appl.D.App working the disco for the night!

 

 

 

Posted in Christian living, grandparenting, health and wellness, Life, Marriage, Parenthood, travel, Uncategorized

Achieving Goals – Change Now!

Again I wrote this in 2015 but still as relevant today two years later!! It doesn’t have to be the New Year to start to change your life!

The way to achieving your goals – START

I saw a great post the other day that basically said , “In 2015 I am going to complete the goals I set in 2014 that I didn’t finish in 2013 that I had set in 2012 etc”

How many of us do that? Set goals and then life gets in the way and bang before you know it the year has flown and nothing has been done to get you toward your goal. We should say we are setting up our good intentions!

One day a few years ago when I was jalking (jog-walking) along the beach I noticed something about focus.

As I headed up the beach I kept my eyes focused on a cliff that overshadows the beach area. Whenever I stayed focus, I could look behind me and see my footprints in the sand were fairly straight. When I strayed in thought and started to wander off , I could look behind and see my foot prints straying all over the place. I was still heading the right direction but I was deviating off course considerably without noticing.

I realized how important focus was to not waste time or energy or direction.

Last year was one of those years. As a couple we had determined a few goals. However, immediately, I became sick in the first few weeks of the year and was flat on my back. I read a book by an old missionary, Praying Hyde. It was inspiring to hear of the amount of prayer this faithful intercessor did: Praying all night, for hours, for days. I was inspired and determined. Things were going to change.

I set myself to focus on prayer, fasting and studying the Word. The days turned to weeks, turned to nearly 2 months. In that time I can honestly say I really didn’t “feel” like I had broken through to any great degree yet within a couple of days I was amazed how quickly God moved. One of those areas was for Paul to get work he loved and opportunities to open up before us.

We shouldn’t have been but we were surprised when literally a day after praying that way the phone rang and he was asked to go to the Philippines to help with the rebuild after Typhoon Yolanda.

He headed off while I planned to go to him after getting a few things sorted in Australia. Then a few weeks after that we received some very challenging news – our grandson Josiah had the leukaemia he had been in remission from, return. It was a blow to us all but our daughter told us to continue to make plans to go thinking they had another 2 years left of chemotherapy. However, a few weeks later it became evident the cancer was not going into remission as well as the doctors liked, enough to say it would never come back.

Bone marrow was really the only option in the natural to follow up on for him to survive – in the natural.

In the spirit we continued to believe that as his name says, Healed by Jehovah. Josiah was an amazing little trooper and literally from March through to October his life and the family’s life revolved around hospitals and doctors. For a 4 year old he was inspirational!

As I reflect on just what goals I set myself during that time of prayer I realize just how much we did achieve what we set out to do despite the challenges and forced change of direction!

Reflecting on goals these are my 5 steps to achieving them in 2015

  • Check your progress.

One of the keys to setting goals is to look behind.  Watch just how far your footprints have deviated off course or stayed on course depending on your focus.

  • Celebrate the victories along the way.

One of my goals was to lose 20 Kilos by Dec 2014. I managed 17. Am I unhappy with that? Of course not but I am still inspired to complete my goal this year and in fact need to add another 5kg on to that amount to achieve my final goal weight.

  • Be realistic.

A building has to have a plan, projections, a budget, a time frame and resources to see it happen. A plan doesn’t happen just by writing it down but that is the start and you need to start. Be realistic in terms of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve. But by the same token – dream big. 

  • Let go.

  If it turns out you didn’t really want to do or become something, be prepared to let it go. Keeping on keeping on for the reason of staying the course is senseless. 

  • Don’t Give Up or In.

 Just as important as step 4 is to keep moving forward despite road blocks and humps. Despite life’s challenges goals can be achieved they just might look a little different or be on a different time line.

The Chinese are calling this the year of the sheep…We proclaim it the year of the Lord’s favour. As you wait on the Lord you will be successful in all you do!  Let’s get started. Blessed in 2015….

Now that I look back over that year I am in such amazement at just what that year produced…more on that later!

 

 

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Achieving my goal to walk every day! Something I struggled hard to achieve after years of inactivity. 
Posted in Christian living, Life, Love, Marriage, sexual issues, Uncategorized

A Good Marriage Does Good Like Medicine

I wrote this at 39 years married. We are now approaching 42 years! I wrote this blog in health and wellness for a reason. Having a healthy marriage can improve the health of people – note I say healthy; as a sick marriage can cause some major health issues, both physically and emotionalley. Here are my thoughts on maintaining a healthy marriage.

I think if you have a good marriage you are less prone to many of the other stresses of life which cause dis-ease and sickness. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. I am not saying that married couples are healthier than singles I am just saying that being in a happy relationship is definitely a healthy way to live.

Someone asked me the other day what did we do to have a good marriage?

I had to stop and think about it. There are quite a few answers to that one but I guess the first one comes from what I carried down the aisle on our wedding day 39 years ago instead of the traditional wedding bouquet – A Bible. A bunch of flowers is lovely but are a bit like some expectations after the wedding – Nice for a day but die quickly thereafter. I wanted something that would reflect what I wanted from my entire marriage not just the wedding day…a foundation of Truth.

We had decided that at the very outset, the Word of God was our foundation. We also really only sang one song during our service – Turn your eyes upon Jesus which is what we have done over the 39 years (41 now).

Has it been easy? No. Have there been tears – on both sides? Absolutely! Have there been fights? For sure! Has there been anger? Of course! Has there been love? Lots!  Fun? Insane amounts!

We never started off on an easy footing. We were both young. I was 17. He was 20. We were dirt poor. We both carried incredible baggage. We were both insecure in many areas. We both were determined – in good and bad ways. We both loved the Lord.

There have been some really hard times where divorce could have been an easy out. I guess I was particularly proud and determined not to have my parents and others say, “I told you, you were too young.” I was also determined that the enemy would not have his way in destroying yet another marriage.

I believe the enemy, Satan, has been trying to destroy two institutions ordained of God for millennia – marriage and the church. So we did not want to be a statistic and we have fought hard to keep our marriage together and strong.

I also know we are often our own worst enemies, desiring our own ways, living for ourselves and not desiring the best for others above our own needs. This spells disaster to any relationship.

There have been a lot of learning experiences but these would be my top 10 steps if applied, for a relationship to survive .

  1. Keep Christ number ONE – by being in relationship with Him and keeping the Word of God as your guide and praying together. We always say to each other there is Someone we love more than the other. He is our #1.
  2. Forgive, forgive, forgive, Keep short accounts – 1 Corinthians 13 saved our 4 year old marriage when I realized I didn’t ‘love’ my husband anymore – meaning I didn’t feel like I loved him. I had to learn what true love is. I learned not to keep a record of wrongs…more on that in a later blog. Never forget; You are not perfect – neither is your partner!
  3. No/Know you can’t change the other person – you can only change yourself and how you behave or react.
  4. Give 100% without expecting anything back – When you give with that kind of love you will receive it back. I know we are told it is a 50:50 arrangement but when you only give 50% there are bound to be some issues down the track.
  5. On the same token – love yourself – Don’t neglect yourself and become a doormat. Know what you want and express that as well. Don’t lose yourself in the other person.
  6. Communication is a must. Learn how to communicate effectively with your partner – we are not all the same and have different ways to express ourselves.
  7. Keep passion alive – This is a blog in itself..but if you lose the passion in your relationship you set yourselves up for looking elsewhere for excitement. After the kids leave home the two of you are left and that is a lot of years looking at each other if you don’t find fulfillment in each other anymore. Don’t let the kids and life, dictate your passion. Fall in love with each other frequently.
  8. Keep intimacy alive – different to passion…Non-sexual touch and kind words are important. Learn to do things you like together.
  9. Be kind to one another – Spiteful, critical, demeaning words do damage and are hard to take back.
  10. Keep humour alive in a marriage – have fun! Life is hard enough without losing your ability to laugh at yourselves and the situations you face together as a family.

Keeping your marriage healthy and fun will aid a long way to keeping you each healthy. So plan to make this year a turning point in your marriage and enjoy the experience.

 

Until next time

Narelle

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Celebrating 40 years with our zany Josiah and family!
Posted in Christian living, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Bucket Baths and Bombs

It was fun remembering this time! The “war” of fireworks were fun although possibly a little reckless due to the nature of housing surrounding us including bamboo walls and the Nipa (or thatched roofs).

Recently we had our 39th Wedding Anniversary and decided to take two days over the holidays to visit a nearby resort – hot showers, different food, good signal…or so we thought!

The food was gourmet Italian, with lots of it and no rice! The shower..well let’s just say our bucket bath gives us much more pressure than their cold shower heads and I have a great husband who boils my water for me in the bucket to take the edge off, especially when I am washing my hair. No such joy from a cold shower!

What is a bucket bath  I hear you ask? It is just that – A bucket of water with a small ladle usually, to tip over yourself whilst standing on top of a small toilet in an concreted area for a bathroom.

So the method goes something like this.

  1. Soap up all over.
  2. Once soaped ladle water all over; as quickly as possible if slightly chilly.
  3. Continue process until clean.

Here is where the going gets tough at times though especially married to my pyromaniac husband.

  1. Dodge firecrackers or have a heart stoppage as he sets them off in the small CR (comfort room) while you are bucketing the water over yourself.

He is having a ball with all the fireworks he bought “for the village kids” for Christmas and New Year. So far we have had wars between himself and the carpenters in the bunk house below us; Firing rockets over the tops of the village kids and shooting at them them across the housing.

I have loaded a few of the carpenters and kids up with boxes to retaliate but think it will not be to my advantage as no doubt they will come back to terrorize me as they attack Paul.

You hear it all over the village. “Kuya (Respectful Uncle) Paul!!!!” as we drive, walk or stand on the verandah. Everyone knows it’s him setting little bombs off around the village and town.

But he loves it! The carpenters all cheer each time he bombs their room. He led his little apprentices today with their Picalos and Weeties (the rockets that go Weeee and then explode) showing them how to light them with mosquito coils and send them out through PVC piping!

I am to the point where if I take a bath I try to do it with him in the cubicle next door at the same time, just so I don’t have to experience the shattering of ear drums.

These are some of the happy challenges we face here on our Philippine’s Journey. I really don’t mind doing life with this crazy pyromaniac but just remember if you are anticipating coming for a visit don’t expect most of the creature comforts you may be used to – not here in Pagnimetan anyway..bucket baths and bombs await!

Happy New Year! And enjoy your fireworks wherever you are..

Until next time

Narelle and Paul

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Great Tiramisu but cold showers to celebrate our 39th Anniversary 2 and bit years ago!
Posted in Christian living, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Monkeying Around

In 2014 Paul had been asked to help rebuild a village in the Philippines for Operation Blessing, after one of the largest typhoons on record wiped out many villages and islands. Separated for many months as I stayed to assist our family in Sydney, Australia, I finally joined him in the September of that year.

These are some of the blogs I wrote and posted on another site during that time. I share them again in no particular order.

It’s raining – still! Another tropical storm has caused torrential weather for the past week or so and our tiny room provided gave us little shelter from the wind and rain.The previous nights were hilarious as we woke during the night shifting our small foam mattress and mosquito net around the room, to find a place that was dry and no potentials for drips from the roof or over-spray from the driving rain coming through the walls. Yesterday between wind gusts Paul and one of the boys surrounded two weather walls with tarpaulins. Oh blissful sleep!

I woke this morning dry, with dappled light of our sawali walls beaming little spots of light and was so excited! “The sun!” Grabbing my sarong I raced outside to see grey clouds rolling in from the sea from the north and the sun trying pitifully to shine through the clouds from the south.

sawali
Sawali walls

We took a chance and decided to get out and climb to the top of the hill where the evacuation cave is situated. Paul used to climb near to the top with the boys and help them carry all the chain-sawed coco-lumber, down to the village below. The most he said he could do was five times up and down! He became a bit of a legend as the other guys only managed a couple or so times up and down in a day. It is a long way up and even longer coming down carrying timber on your shoulders. They were some of the challenges they faced here in Pagnimetan as they rebuilt the village.

We set out to walk up the hill, check out our evacuation cave and just get fresh air. Our walk was a bit slippery over the jungle grasses and vines scattered across the coral rock and fallen coconut trees but not too difficult.

To our delight we spotted a couple of troops of monkeys higher up the hill – babies and all. The main issue though was making sure we didn’t step into hidden sink holes or cave openings in our excitement to follow them trying to get a decent photo.

Huddled under our umbrella, perched on large coral rocks, sheltering beside some trees to shield us from driving rain, I felt the ghosts of past “explorers” in these hills.

These areas were navy bases for the Americans during the war and there are still remnants of their building foundations and pathways in the village area. I am sure they would have set out on more than one occasion patrolling in the region and perhaps up this hill for a good lookout position.

We heard and saw a monkey coming down one of the coconut trees and decided to follow him, except he disappeared over the cliff to his family further down. It was worth the detour from our trek up the hill to see the view out over the reefs and toward “my” radar hill. We always look towards this hill from Radar Hill, but this morning we turned the table.

It was a spectacular view but we were a bit concerned with the continuing showers and after exploring a little further up the hill decided not to risk losing our footing and falling into a sink hole so started to trek back down. Paul couldn’t resist and pulled a couple of his Piccolo fire crackers from his pocket throwing them down two sink holes – in the name of exploration of course just to see how deep they were! The smoke billowed out of various hidden openings so guess it did prove a point. Just not sure what!

Back to Operation Blessing base for a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and swamp spinach and a warm coffee..a great start to a couple of days enforced holiday due to the rain and holidays for New Year.

Until next time

Narelle and Paul

Posted in Christian living, internet marketing, Life, sexual issues, travel, Uncategorized

Haiti – Quick visit

Recently I paid a return visit to Haiti. As an Australian staying in the United States we are required according to our visa waiver conditions to leave the country for an unspecified period of time every 90 days. My daughter who runs a not-for-profit organization in Haiti had been trying unsuccessfully for quite a few months to get back down to see her girls. So we all decided to head down there as our exit strategy.

The last time I was there it had been an extremely challenging year with our grandson newly diagnosed and under treatment for leukemia and I was exhausted. I was also not personally feeling well so this trip was nice to follow up with.

Haiti is a country that defies many minds and hearts. It was the first country where slaves gained their freedom but it came at a great cost. Countries set embargoes against them, during that period in the 1800’s until recent times, causing incredible challenges to this small country.

Slavery although abolished still thrives though with children and women at risk of exploitation. Greater minds then mine have tried to find a solution but despite all the huge financial amounts of aide this country has seen come and go, it still suffers with insane poverty and all of the issues that festers.

Naomi and the many other organizations though that create work and good working conditions for her girls, including health and regular income, is helping to change the lives of those around there.

There are so many complex situations though including the one of escouad  or pooling of finances. One person gets it all one month and so one. So virtually you would get paid once a year in the case of Naomi’s 12 girls!

My heart breaks when I see the hardship of so many families around the world who all they want is a better life for their children!

I loved visiting with them but now starts the hard work of selling their goods so that we can send more of the profits down to them. Our next goal, is to build them a functioning kitchen that will provide a place for them to cook out of and sell food.

They are also keen to learn hair dressing skills to supplement their incomes and help provide skills to improve life for the next generation.

So lots to consider. If you can consider purchasing some of the amazing jewellery and metal work from our site! You can change a life!

https://www.facebook.com/KadoGift

Until next time enjoy the laugh of this little one. He was tickled with the blocks of wood cast offs Paul gave him!

Blessings Narelle

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