Sunday, 30 September 2012

How do you know when you're in LOVE?

   I KNOW you're all dying to hear what Dad and I have been up to so far on our travels across the pond but we've done a lot and it'll take some time (especially picking out which pictures to show!) so you'll have to hold your horses a wee bit longer.

   I did, however, want to share with you something rather specific. We arrived in Henderson on Tuesday evening - staying with a couple Steve and Marie, the latter of which I would like to be able to say was inspiration for my Mum's nickname for me, 'Shelly Marie', but I'm not sure. We'll stick with that story though, as she is a wonderful woman, and an honour to be named after!
   On Wednesday morning we went to Freed Hardeman's chapel, before we were due to depart for Searcy that afternoon. The man doing the devotional at the chapel was really good, very well spoken and gave quite a lovely address. I will share with you what he said, in the hope you will also receive some of the same warm fuzziness in your heart that I did upon hearing his words...
   His task was to answer the question 'How do you know when you're in love?' A rather wonderful question which leads to so many prolific answers it is often considered rhetorically, without much conclusion. But this man seemed to have a pretty good answer...
   He said "It depends what kind of love you're talking about - brotherly love, family love, romantic love..." He went on to describe the feeling of being 'in-love', the butterflies, moist palms, heart-racing, gut-clenching feeling upon seeing, holding or even meeting that special someone. He asked "can it be real?" The feeling itself, of course, everyone who has experienced this will agree. But 'how real' it is, is what he moved on to talking about. "If it changed, does it get less?" Well, that depends on how it changes.
   He said LOVE, not 'love' is an "emotion, devotion and action". He Biblically expresses that you "can not serve two masters" because if you serve - if you devote yourself IN action - one thing or person, you can not do wrong to them even if you feel otherwise inclined. This is LOVE.
   He explains that to LOVE we must "Do good to them in spite of ourselves... It's a feeling, but it's your choice what you do with it."
"Some days you wont feel in love, but you don't stop loving... You never have the right to not act right."

We looked briefly at 1 Corinthians 13. 
He said you are 'in LOVE': "When everything you do is for their highest good. When you're willing I be patient and suffer with them, being kind. When you're willing to lift them up to your detriment. When you put them first, being kind and gracious to them no matter what."

"It doesn't matter what they do, you're responsible for what you do."
"When it gets past the emotion... You'll be well and truly on your way knowing that it's the real thing baby 'uh hu hu'..." He ends in a jovial tone, that last bit sounding like Elvis. It was a gooood chapel service.

    We arrived safely in Searcy on Wednesday and Thursday morning we went to the Harding chapel service. This was brilliant, given by one of the students. I shall tell you all about it later, it leads quite well into one of the points made a minute ago... 
   On a personal note - Today would have been Mum's 51st Birthday, had she still been on this earth. Dad mentioned it in his lesson in Church this morning and I found myself crying a bit in public for the first time in a wee while. It still hits me that she's not coming back in the strangest of ways. It is still foreign to me that she won't have any more Birthdays. And I'm still getting used to the idea that she's already with us, and that she is ok.

Peace and love, as always.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Remember, remember...

   I was going to write up some of my diary entries this week mirroring the last weeks with Mum last year but for multiple reasons I have not. I want to think of this as the anniversary of Mum leaving to be with our Heavenly Father, rather than dwell on the bad situations we had last year. I whole heartedly want to be open and honest about everything I have been through but feel that for this, right now, it would be inappropriate to mention certain things. You'll just have to buy my book...

   June Elizabeth Boyns was a wonderful wife, a devoted mother and a loving follower of Christ. She passed away a year ago today on the 27th September 2011. She loved so many, so brilliantly, I pray her memory and character continues to inspire others as it does me. I miss Mum dearly, every day, and every time I do something she would have loved to hear about. I have written a poem (as us writers do) and thought I'd share it with you budding blog followers.

I sat down around quarter to three
To figure out what was happening to me,
My whole life had been turned upside down,
My smiles turned into timid frowns,
My heart gone cold over emptier days,
My head been muddled with unfamiliar ways.

Pausing for a moment, an hour goes by,
I ask no other question by why, God, why?
As mortal I understand there are things which my hand
Cannot reach in terms of Universal cause,
But she was quite another - angelic, she was my mother,
Perhaps just too good for this place, so you took her, by your grace...

A year on, sometimes it feels like days, sometimes weeks,
Since she was here, but I have a comfort in knowing,
Each moment passed is one more growing
Nearer to our meeting for an eternity.

Perfect peace I strive to gain every time I awake,
That would be fainly taken on if it would come,
'Til it does I'll remain in limbo between the past and what will be,
Or until my Lord decides that homeward is also the route for me.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Safe arrival across the pond!

   A week ago I was in Glasgow getting the train from Dalmuir, where I had been staying with friends whose band had performed in Perth the Friday before, to East Kilbride. 
From there an American, Scotland residing, family friend let me hitch a ride home and this is what we arrived to. Intentionally waving the British flag? I think so. ;]
Dad and I departed the house at 0650hrs (GMT) on Tuesday morning and got a taxi to Peterborough train station. From there we went to London King's Cross, got the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Terminal 3 and checked ourselves in to depart London at 1250. 

< Checked in and having lunch before our flight out... 

So exciting. We flew to Chicago where we picked up bags, re-checked in and took the hour flight to Nashville, Tennessee where our dear friends Bill and Anna May picked us up and took us to their house. I got some cracking photos of the sunset and cities on the flight from Chicago to Tennessee, and others from before and after our arrival. Here's just some of the lovely views I enjoyed yesterday...
The sun and the moon between Chicago and Tennessee...
Tennessee near Nashville...
Just like home. I have actually taken pictures enough to show you our trip - in Starbucks'! Maybe something to post later for your amusement...
 This was my wonderful view this morning after waking up SO EXCITED once I realised I was in America - going for a dip later methinks! 

   Carrying on with my original intent for this blog, here is just a brief entry from just over a year ago to remember the set up date for Mum's page on CaringBridge. The page is still running and can be found on if you're interested in seeing it for yourself.
September 18th 2011
CaringBridges page set up for people to check on Mum’s situation/ leave messages/ donations to Papworth/ PHA…
Such a loving response so far… <3
   In their own words, CaringBridge is for 'Connecting Friends & Family During Health Events', it helps keep people updated with progress of treatment, it allows people to donate money to a personalised cause and it provides a bridge of contact to send messages of love and encouragement to those immediately affected by said health event. Through the site we received 257 notes of encouragement which we read to Mum when possible, hearing from so many people in such loving ways was an immense comfort for her at a time when it is so easy to feel so alone.

Dad and I are about to head out for a bit to collect a projector which he will need for his lessons, a pool dip is scheduled for later, and then meeting at a local Church tonight for some good ol' worshipping. God has been good, He is good, and I have faith His will continues to do us well here across the pond.

Once again, peace and love.

Monday, 17 September 2012

There's no goodbyes here...

So this year has been insane. As you probably know - Dad and I are heading out to America - TOMORROW. Yes, the time has come, as it always does eventually. I have some diary accounts coming your way soon, leading up to Mum's departure. So as my Father and I depart from this country it is strange to have said goodbye to everyone, even for just 7 weeks. Wee Eli Duncan will be so big by the time I get back and it's hard even knowing I'm not able to see him grow and flourish with his cheeky personality in this time. Thinking of this, I can't imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye to everyone you knew - forever - so how about 'See you soon', because in one way or another it's true.
   Watching 'The Bucket List' the other day this issue of 'time to say goodbye' comes up. Morgan Freeman's character quotes that 96% of those asked would prefer not to know their date of death. I conquer with that 96% sometimes, feeling it would only make me worry and limit the ambition and freedom I have, other days I lean towards the other 4%, wanting to know just how long I have to make the impact I want to make. But - why wait? Whether you know or not - If you have something worth doing, do it now! 
   I am a passionate person, and sometimes I can make decisions rashly but it is not for lack of thinking. Quite the opposite. I weigh decisions for doing and for not doing something and I always get back to this feeling of mortality - our time on this earth is limited, but we have never ending opportunities to make our mark if only we would get the courage to take them.
   When I wrote these entries I only knew what I was told from what the Doctors could tell of my Mum's situation. Read, and I'll conclude... 

Saturday 17th September 2011
   Last night Dad rang and told me Mum is in critical condition.
The doctors say that is Aubrey and Sara are serious about wanting Mum at their wedding then they might want to think about bringing it forward. I think they mean that she might not last the winter.

The doctors asked Mum if her heart stopped, would she want them to resuscitate her?

    She said “No”.

But who would want to go through this again? Who could?

So Mum may not see Aubrey get married after all. Nor me, or Shanae. She may not see any grandchildren.
    I may bury my Mum before my 21st Birthday. What about my 20th? Will this be our last Christmas? Was this our last Summer?

Do I quit Uni? She could have 2 more years at least - who knows?
    God knows. I wish he’d tell me…

I’d have to pay my rent still, if I quit Uni. And tax. And my overdraft. Financially it doesn't make sense. But again, how can you put a price on memories of your Mother...

I’m going home the weekend of the 23rd/24th, and also the weekend after that for her 50th Birthday.
    So much planning. So much travel - Time, money...
Hassle? Never.
Just is.

Craig is with me this weekend, so I’m not alone. Going to his tonight, coming back here Monday.

I don’t want to get married, or have children, or grow old, without her. I don’t know if I can.

I don’t want to have to close her eyes. I don’t want her to go. Even if it’s to a better place.
September 17th 2011 21:06
Spoke to Mum briefly on her phone next to her bed in hospital. 

She said “I Love You. Always remember that.” 

She said 'Always', as if she won't be here to tell me herself...

She speaks with whisps, I can’t really hear her well.

She says she doesn’t know what God has planned for her. Neither do I.

   Mum didn't make her 50th, or my 20th, and that was our last summer. When I first re-read that entry, after the fact, I burst into tears, my chest clamped over my heart and I physically hurt with a stabbing pain. Utter shock that mere days could change my world so much, and I re-evaluated my life plan. What I dreamed of having eventually - husband, children - I wanted instantly and thought 'Why wait? We might not have time to wait!' Whilst this is true, I have remembered that patience is a virtue, and everything will happen in God's time if only we let Him. 
   Let go and let God. And if you can't make a decision based on his Word then follow your heart, and let Him guide you from there.

That might be the best advice I ever give you, so you might want to make a note.

I don't know where I will be, who I will be with or what I will be doing for my 21st this year - thought I'd slip that reminder in - in November... But I know I'll be sound in knowing wherever I am God will be with me, and my friends and family won't be far behind. 

 *   *   *   *   *   *

   I'll tell you about our trip more when we actually start it. Though 'til then, here is a ROUGH outline of where we'll be going...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Some days are good days, others are what you make of them.

   I said I would be typing up diary entries from a year ago and here's the next one, from a year ago today, which is my parent's Anniversary.

   They are the best parents anyone could ever ask for. You may disagree and say I'm biased - I am - but it's still true.

Facebook status: ‘Ah pathetic fallacy, true for me in Dundee…’ (Dull, cold and dreary)
Night of 15th September 2011 
   Having had a power cut - *TV Shrine* with Anna - I rang Aubrey, who’s visiting Peterborough at the moment, finally got through to Dad’s mobile as they weren’t answering the home phone at 10.30pm! - Turns out Mum is in hospital. Papworth.
    She’s not good.
Worst she’s ever been, even Dad admits it.
    Dad says he thinks the doctors are beside themselves. He thinks the next thing they’ll do, if they can’t do anything else, is say ‘make her comfortable’.
    At the same time, he says it’s not a call to round up the family for last orders, but it’s pretty serious.

“I’m coming down next weekend.”
    “I don’t want you to miss classes.”
“I’m coming.”
    “I understand.”

I would do anything for Mum to be happy.
   She’s got a tube in her neck for something to lower her potassium(?!) and her kidneys are kerplunk. And they did some blood tests on her today, but a tube up her artery and it hurt her. Dad says Mum had just wanted to forget it all and go home. I totally understand that. Dad kept saying that the only thing that gives him hope is knowing that this isn’t it. He said “her condition isn’t certain - in this world at least.”
    So true.
Today was their 27th Anniversary. 15th September 2011. 27 years of marriage. <3 Best parents ever. And they really are.

   I almost wish I could be angry at her for something, so it wouldn't seem so cruel...
But she is so blameless, so true. It’s just life.
Fragility, mortality, sickness, lack of something or another…
    Not her, it’s just her body.
They were meant to go to the Theatre tonight, but had to cancel. Dad said “Well, at least we got to a theatre” (surgery).
    Funny man.
Well, we all have to be, don’t we.

This year has just been strange. So often I feel like I'm recalling someone else's life whilst living another. I have had some great memories and some great sadnesses, it will certainly be a year to remember. I have learned so much from others through their wisdom, comfort and encouragement, and I sincerely hope I am giving something back in way of experience, inspiration and hope. Whilst many of my posts have light hearted endings, I'm afraid that some may not - as is the way of life. Some days are good days, others are what you make of them.

   Today is the first of my parent's Anniversaries where cards will not be exchanged, nor congratulations given, and it was the first time in 8 months that I visited Mum's grave...

Getting off the bus I feel nervous. I walked to Londis to see if I could get flowers but they've stopped selling them. Down the path, on which I grew up going to school, it suddenly feels like I'm walking to an exam, butterflies in my stomach. The older graves become visible and I give a thought to all those souls I'll never know. Along the path and the moss has disappeared, cleaner stones emerge and I take a moment to consider all the families still affected by these slabs. Even further, nearing the parked cars I swallow the lump in my throat - I can't believe I have to come here to see Mummy.
   She shouldn't be here. She should be at home, her clothes are ready for her, her card making stuff awaits her artistic hand. Walking down the path to get here I clench my jaw to keep me from spluttering tears. 
   A year ago today she went into hospital. Who could have known then I'd be here now? If I had been given a vision of me sitting beside her like this then, I wouldn't have believed it. That her story could end up like this. That 365 days would link one image to the next.
   I should know she is in heaven, I should know that she's not coming back.
   But I just can't believe it. 
And I haven't been that honest with myself until now.

It is hard for me to type this and click 'Publish'. I do so in the hope that maybe I'm helping somebody understand something a little better, whether it be love, life or death. Maybe that somebody is me or maybe it's you, either way I'll keep writing and sharing, and hoping.

Love and peace.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Making a move.

   As I get ready to go home for the first time since New Years I feel anxious, and then confused. I have written already about 'Home Sweet Home' being where the heart is, and I do believe this, but Mum isn't at home anymore so it changes the place as a whole. It'll be strange going in and seeing her hand painted plaques, 'mumsie' magnets on the fridge and country home ornaments dotted upon various surfaces. It'll be strange visiting her grave and seeing how the grass has gown over evenly, giving her flowers that she'll never be able to really appreciate. It's just strange. Almost a year on, and it's even stranger so. It feels like Christmas, the air is thinning, and an anxious excitement has been creeping up on me for the past week. 
   I had said that I was going to write up entries from a year ago, see where I was this time last year and here's one from the 9th and 10th September... 

9th September 2011
Dundee Church Retreat September 2011
Frank Worgan - “But of course you’re Mum will never die, with you alive you’re a spitting image of her.”
<3 You will never know the lump in my throat that came, and went, before I cried into your shoulder.
10th September 2011
 Mum got the stair lift put in 2 days after I left them.
It’s the 10th September - 3 months before the wedding. I’m at the Dundee Church Retreat in Arbroath and I was falling asleep yesterday thinking about the wedding. About how Mum might be at Aubrey’s, about how she might not be at mine or Shanae’s - so she should be documented, so we can play it back and live it with her there in some form.
    Then I thought, well, how it could be done, and who could do it - Brittney Cameron. She is an amazing photographer, really waits for the shot, naturally... maybe she could film a bit as well…
    I’d have to ask Aubrey and Sara and Dad for permission, and maybe Mum? But that might make her self conscious and not act naturally… Imagine preparing testimony to those you love because you know you’re going to die... That’s no way to live the time you have left, is it?
    I’d pay her and everything, who can put a price on memories of her Mother?
   I don’t know how I will be when she goes. Be it a few months, years or decades - losing your Mother is much the same how ever old you are.
I’m reminded of Tawny Owl from Brownies. She dies last year at the age of 42 or something close, her daughter was Oswald’s house at school and I didn’t even realise at the time. Tawny Owl didn’t have anything wrong with her, and she wasn’t even the victim of a crime. A bubble of air got into her bloodstream, she complained of a pain in her knee - she collapsed hours later and died, the bubble got into her heart. There was nothing wrong with her, she just died.
    At least I’ll be prepared for grieving.

Ah crazy. Well, I think it's time for me to make a move and get my suitcase in the car. 
   Readership - I'll see you in England.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

We are all we have.

[Caution: Contains Spoilers...]

   I have been watching a LOT of One Tree Hill lately, and over the last few episodes watched there have been tears in my eyes and a gentle tugging in my heart. One of the characters Peyton has suffered through the deaths of both her biological and adoptive Mothers - these issues tug particularly deep considering I understand all that goes with that type of loss. The other major thing which catches me is the relationship Hayley and Nathan Scott have - one which brought them to marry at 17 and have a baby boy the day of graduation. I understand these events are fictional, but only in the sense that those characters don't exist - but those people do. 

   I said in a recent post that I love films, TV shows etc. because I love the resolve, and I do. But I love most of all that they (again, the good ones) address real scenarios and situations and somehow prepare us for our own lives, and can inspire us to do some things in reality and make a real difference. I have always believed in the power of words, and from comments I have had about this blog, I think a lot of you believe it too.

   Martin Luther King Jr gave many inspirational speeches but only 4 words stick universally in people's minds - "I have a dream..." And that's OK. They are good words. The context in which they were said makes them Great. So I wonder what words people will remember from me. 

   On the other hand I once heard this phrase, "People may not remember what you say, they may not even remember what you do, but they will always remember how you made them feel." So maybe it's not all about words and maybe not even the actions you take, maybe it's about how you love.
   If there is anything I have learned for certain this year it is that people matter; Who you chose to let in to your heart, who you share your life with, who you worry about during the day and think about before you go to bed. I firmly believe that God created us to have relationships with each other. In His image we are family to each other just as He is Father, Son and Spirit.
   So imagine a faith strong enough to move mountains (Matthew 17:20), and aim for a love so strong it makes the world go round. Don't give up on each other. We are all we have.