I have had the most amazing year! It started with a trip to Palmerston North, New Zealand, for the birth of Robin’s and my fifth grand child Ella in February. Then in March came a trip to Sydney, Australia, for the birth of our sixth grand child Luke. And following that in April our seventh grand child Sophie was born in London. Yes that’s right! Three grand children in three months! How often does that happen?
In May I had another trip to Sydney to catch up with that lovely new grandson, as well as two sons, two daughter in laws and three grand children, including Luke.
In August five of us left New Zealand for Poland. We had a wedding to go to! Second son Daniel was getting married to Marysia and nine family members were travelling over for the celebration. That meant I was meeting up with Matthew and grand daughter Casey, and Ben and Chloe from Sydney, as well as travelling with Robin, Judy (my sister), Len and niece Teresa. And, we were meeting little Sophie for the first time!
We stayed in Poland in a Palace! It was a fabulous place. Somewhere buried deep in my blog (around August 2014) is a picture of the palace. The wedding was amazing!
From Poland we went to Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. This was all part of an ‘Insight Vacations’ tour called ‘The tour of the Balkans’. It was a marvelous experience and fully covered in previous blog posts as well!
After the tour I flew to London (alone) and arrived on the 15th of September. The rest of my family who did the tour flew back to New Zealand. I have had the most amazing three months here looking after my grand daughter Sophie while her Mum and Dad went to work. And I have made the most of that time! I have connected with a local Church and the super friendly people there by attending some Sundays, but also by taking Sophie to their playgroup most Friday mornings. It has been great! I also took Sophie to the local library most Wednesdays for music and movement in French! I loved it, and so did Sophie. That child just rocks to every beat of music with a huge smile on her face!
At every opportunity I went into London to ‘Hillsong London’ church and I would spend the whole day wandering around the popular tourist spots in the city. I spent a couple of Saturdays in the city as well so I could see everything! I have thousands of photos! I also took Sophie into London and met up with Dan and Marysia. After work we explored London by night. So completely different than during the day. The lights and sights are superb!
From the 4th of November until the 26th of November, my sister Judy came over from New Zealand to holiday with me. The second weekend she was here we flew to Switzerland for three days. We stayed in Zurich and discovered the city. We also did a tour of wonderful Lucerne and then went up Mount Pilatus by the cog railway. Oh my goodness those places are a must to visit! I have loaded heaps of photos here on my blog as well. Go have a look and be inspired to go there yourself! You won’t regret it!
Judy and I also went to two shows, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Billy Elliot’, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wandered through museums, shops, the winter wonderland and went on the London eye together. So many fun and memorable moments!
Dan and Marysia also took me to Oxford, and then Judy and I to Winchester to see the Christmas markets there! So many wonderful, amazing experiences! And it hasn’t ended yet! On the 19th, Dan, Marysia, Sophie and myself are flying to Sydney and meeting husband Robin, daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Conner who are flying the same day from New Zealand. We will all be staying with eldest son Matthew, Rebekah and grandchildren Leeara, Casey and Luke. And eldest daughter Joanna who is in Sydney already, waiting for us to arrive! We will be meeting up with youngest son Ben and Chloe before they fly to New Zealand to meet Chloe’s family for Christmas. We will be having a fabulous Christmas in Sydney together! It certainly will be a time of celebration.
When I think of all that I have experienced this year and of the wonderful provision from God to be able to do it all (and an understanding, loving husband), I feel amazingly blessed! I feel so full from all of the most wonderful experiences and relationships in my life, and feel so emotionally satisfied and happy. Sometimes I feel like my heart could burst with joy from all these experiences 🙂
Now I am not sharing all this to show off, or to make you feel jealous of me, or to make you think that I am perfect, have an amazing personality, a great character, are better than others and somehow deserve this life. I am human, I make plenty of mistakes and I fail at times, my life hasn’t always been this wonderful in fact it has had many troubles. I am only in this place at this time because of my gracious and merciful God!
Here is the reality of my life, and a little of my past and the sadness I have experienced….
In 1989, when I was 33 years old, I was living in a half finished house and I was solely paying the weekly mortgage payments. I was a single mother of four young boys and I was supported by the New Zealand Domestic Purposes Benefit, which was barely enough to survive on. My ex-husband had left me and the boys and he wasn’t making life easy. I was continually under pressure to ‘hold it together’ for the sake of my children especially when their emotions were also in a mess. They couldn’t really understand the changes that had happened in their lives, and to be honest neither could I.
Emotionally I was a wreck! Not only was I suffering huge rejection from my ex-husband, but I also felt rejection from those who thought I was somehow not worthy of their friendship any longer as I was now a solo mother. I had lost the title of being a wife and had also lost status in society, as I was now officially on a benefit! Some women couldn’t associate with me any longer as somehow I became a threat to them. As a single lady, I was seen as available, I could maybe attract interest from their husbands (even though I had four children). From men, they felt it would ruin my reputation to be seen with me? Of course, having suffered the devastation of a broken marriage I wanted to go break another marriage and cause damage in their life as well! Really? And being a single women with four children, it actually hurt to be with couples and see their happy family, knowing our little family was broken and suffering.
My ex husband played the blame game often (of course it was all my fault), and I developed the habit of needing to defend myself both to him and to the many he had convinced of his innocence, and to our past friends. And I’m not saying that I was completely blameless, but I was completely faithful!
Divorce leaves behind broken lives! And it can take years for those lives to be restored. And even when you think you have it sorted, something happens and before you know it, you find yourself back in the middle of an emotional crisis again! And as a survivor, you do get yourself back on track eventually, but it is a process, believe me. And I have fallen many times over the years. I am a whole lot better than I was, but it is still very sad how deep rejection, or the feeling of being unappreciated, can wound the very soul of a person! It’s also very sad to suffer at the hands of those who have never experienced the hardships of divorce and all that goes with it, and they cast you aside when you show any degree of weakness in your emotional life. I take hurts very deep, and have reacted upon that hurt spirit, rather than see myself as God sees me… totally loved unconditionally, and totally understood. And, I have had prayer and ministry for the brokenness, and I believe that God has helped me incredibly. The upsets from the past come further and further apart now and are much less severe.
As you would know (if you have read ‘About me’ here on my blog) I am a Christian. I know the love, value, acceptance and belonging that comes from receiving Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I know peace and joy, and I live a very rich and fulfilled life. I’m not saying that if you become a christian, you will have problem free living. I haven’t had life easy as a Christian, but I have a God who says ‘Cast your cares on me for I care for you’. And He never fails to bring comfort and joy. Yes… it is well with my soul! That doesn’t mean that the echoes of the past don’t come back to haunt me, and that you forget the events of the past, but with God’s help you can forgive and the memories are much less painful.
Many years ago a lady came to me in church, and said that she felt she had a scripture for me. It was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Well I think God has blessed me with the reality of that scripture for a few years now but even more so in this year. Yes I am so very thankful for the wonderful year I have just had and I thank God daily for it! And I am so thankful for my wonderful family who I get to share this life with. And, I am also so very thankful for the friends I have, who have stood by me and loved me no matter what, and still encourage me to be the best me that I possibly can 🙂
I love you all xoxoxo
I wonder what God has in His plans for us in 2015!
Isaiah 61:3 To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of dispair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.