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

 

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 Life, Marriage

To Have and to Hold

This past week we saw the demise of yet another marriage with the pending divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It was sad, amusing, sad, interesting, and again sad to read some of the comments from those whose lives revolve around the lives of others.

“If being two of the most beautiful people, having millions of dollars and a lovely family of children doesn’t mean you can make it, there is no hope for us (mere plebs) – (inserted by me)!” was just one of the many comments of the news of the split.

I find this sad. Sad that people have to live their lives dictated to by the lives of celebrities or at least feel that they have no options should celebrities not make it; Sad that they don’t have enough faith in their own relationships to hold together through all of the trials of life; Sad that they feel their comments can contribute to the situation they really know nothing about. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Who knows the real reason two people separate? What propels or compels them to terminate a relationship?

I don’t know.  But I find it disturbing that so many married couples young and old are walking out on relationships. I don’t want to stand in judgement because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and there goes me but for the Grace of God! Recently I heard the story of a lady who was married to a “wonderful Christian man”, ‘who beat the “crap” out of me nearly every day’.     No one would believe her. I recently saw a Facebook Meme that says, “Over 3000 women had died since 9/11 but only 2 from terrorism – which one are we still talking about?”

Violence in the home is one of the biggest killers of women particularly, but not exclusively. We don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors!

I am not speaking in terms of this kind of violence. No woman or man should stay in a situation that endangers themselves and especially their children. However, I know that even those challenges of domestic violence can be worked through and a marriage stay together. My parents were one such couple. Dad was an angry man and I remember well the times he hit my mother and my siblings. His anger moods alone were abusive and terrifying. But Mum chose during those years of no government assistance to stay with him. She was committed to him and in his own way he was committed to her and us. I remember a conversation in his later years where he actually spoke lovingly of our family and how he had to provide for us all and to him that was enough to show love. He did change in his older years and mellowed a lot. He was a man who towards the end of his life, as a qualified counsellor, I could diagnose as having a paranoid personality disorder. This diagnosis earlier in life might have saved a lot of heart ache for our family. But my mother was committed to stay with him and as a believer in God she prayed often for strength to carry on and she nursed him right up until he died, with that strong sense of commitment and love,  but not without tears. They were married for 52 years.

Why do I share this? As I stated I don’t think we should stay in dangerous situations but relationships aren’t always so easily compartmentalized – abusive, non-abusive. The point is, it is sad that in a relatively normal relationship, if there is such a thing, many people are giving up very early in the relationship. The struggles don’t end after you have lived with someone for many years. There seems to be a growing number of older people moving out and moving on after 25-30 years of marriage or even more. I remember meeting an older woman who had left her husband after nearly 40 years of marriage.

I don’t know if it is expectation or exhaustion that is the final straw. My mother was exhausted toward the end of her life. I can’t say she had a happy life but she did stick with her principles and persevered and she did miss him terribly when he died. Talk about complex! The older I get the less I feel I understand about life, love and relationships, which is why I go back to the Word of God as my guide.

It says, “Let not man pull asunder what God has put together.”  It is Jesus’s comment to divorce. Asunder is such an old word but has the meaning of tearing in two, tearing apart, tearing in pieces. I don’t think that sounds like a gentle or amicable separation or uncoupling! It is bloody, messy and painful for all involved especially the children, but also the entire extended family not to mention the two parties involved.

The Father’s wish and plan was that we marry for life until death, but knowing the condition of the heart of man, that is not always going to be the case and He gave instructions for divorce in terms of infidelity. However, I have even seen marriages come back from infidelity, including my own, stronger than ever before.

There are danger periods that counsellors look for in couple therapy.

4- 7 years – The first few years of adjusting to the relationship. Children have most likely started coming too so this brings new dimension and perhaps issues to a relationship.

15-17 years – Children again! Teen age years are starting to add pressure to the relationship. Aging parents can start to become an issue too and add pressures. Finances and lack of intimacy create further stressors.

23-27 years – Middle age is upon the couple and they can start taking stock of where they are at, what and whom they have become or not become. A time of reassessing can sometimes cause couples to look outside the relationship for stimulation or more satisfaction. Children are leaving home and chinks that were covered with the busyness of life can become exposed.

And the newer period, 30 -40 years – The newer danger period where couples start to look at the other person and wonder what or whom they have spent most of their life with and ask was it worth it? They feel their lives fading and can feel that time is too short to be unhappy. Hopefully they are heroic enough to see the years to come as further time to stay with a person they can complete their life with and start to work on latent issues. We should be learning and changing until we draw our last breaths! Our later years can be better than our former years!

For the young ones out there newly married, I say, stay the course! It does get better. Not easier necessarily but better! Love grows deep where there was a shallow selfish initial love. The love grows to a caring, heartfelt, selfless love if two people are committed to each other and the marriage. For the older couples, hold the course. You are still able to change until the day you die. If you feel you are growing apart, find common ground and reboot the relationship on that level. Don’t grow weary in doing good, you will see a return on the harvest. Fight for relationships.

For those who have undergone the pain of divorce, I offer the thought that even God the Father, Husband, Lover, to we human beings, knows and understands the pain of rejection, betrayal, and being set aside for the love of others and “things”. We reject His efforts for intimacy and relationship yet He continues to love and forgive. My only advice comes from an old pastor’s wife wisdom, confirmed later by professionals, “Leave at least 2 years (the typical period of healing from grief) before you become involved in another relationship.” Divorce is spoken of as the “living death” as there is never a complete resolution of the relationship such as death, particularly if children are involved. To move on too quickly could lead to areas of life not being healed, and falling into similar relationship issues with the next person.

Stop following the celebrities and tv shows and movies for how to do relationships well. Look to older couples who have made it and find out just what they did or didn’t do. Look to the Word of God to find answers on how to deal with the challenges of two people becoming one! Not an easy task anyway you look at that! Pray – For wisdom and strength. Work – stay committed and work at the relationship. Nothing good was ever attained just because. It takes hard effort. Happiness does not mean joy! We don’t have to be happy every single moment of our lives. We can have a deep sense of joy without the trimmings of being “happy”, but we can also have some good times along the journey of life and learn to laugh a lot more together!

I know Paul and I have been working for the past 40 years to become a great marriage….We still are. We have come through many challenges and heartache but thank God for each other and for our God who has kept us throughout this time.

I recommend if you are having issues in your marriage, prayer, perseverance, counselling, and more prayer, can change your marriage to be the most exciting, loving one you can ever imagine..into old age!

Blessings

Until next time

Narelle

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Celebrating the significant 40 years – coming into the promised land!
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The joys of the next generation..