• Faith,  Family

    Quick, shut the door on 2020!

    Auf weidersehn 2020! I am not alone in hurridly ushering out the worst year I can remember.

    I haven’t written here for several months – mostly because my brother-in-law was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in October. We’ve been so busy dealing with that, and then with Christmas things at church, that I just haven’t had the headspace for anything else. But I’m doing better now.

    I will never forget the shock of learning Eric had been killed. You know when you can’t believe the words that are coming out of someone’s mouth? It was exactly like that.

    If Tigger from Winie the Pooh was a person, he would be my brother-in-law. Full of energy, zest for life and fun, it still seems utterly preposterous that Eric is gone. His passing is made worse by the fact he and his partner were scheduled to put an offer on a house later that day, and they had recently decided to get married and try for a baby. It is the loss of that potential that has devastated us all.

    His partner is Korean, so of course thanks to Covid-19, her family are unable to come to support her. She is broken, and so is my mother-in-law and Rev G.

    Rev G and I were suprised at how many people said ‘Oh, this must have really tested your faith.’

    Let me categorically state that NO, it hasn’t.

    Do we think it’s unfair that a young man in the prime of his life has been killed? Of course we do. Are we angry and sad and devastated that it happened? Yes.

    My husband has lost his only sibling; my children have lost their fun-loving Uncle, and any chance of having cousins. We grieve for ‘what should have been’.

    Do we think that it’s God’s fault? Of course not. I know people who think God is up there playing Russian roulette with our lives, like he’s picking and choosing who to save and who to smite. I hear this type of thinking all the time. “If God exists, how could he let [insert atrocity here] happen?” I think you’re blaming the wrong guy.

    Bad stuff happens pretty much every second of every day around this broken world. Sometime it’s the result of greed, or violence. Sometimes it’s because we’ve stuffed up the environment, polluted the air, the waterways, leached toxins into our food. Sometimes there’s a pandemic raging around the planet.

    And sometimes people die because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    What happened to my brother-in-law was an accident. The Police may lay charges against the truck driver who hit Eric’s bike, but did that driver deliberately set out to kill someone that day? Of course not.

    I have seen Rev G feel nothing but compassion for the truck driver. As much as he wants his brother back, he knows what happened was an accident, and has forgiven the driver.

    We have been uplifted and carried by the body of Christ throughout it all, with unswerving support from our church. The first people at our door with a meal were an older couple from our congregation – both of whom had lost a sibling in accidents at a young age. We didn’t need to cook for several weeks due to the kindness of others, giving us meals.

    Rev G was told to take as much time off as he needed, and the church quietly set to organising the services and filling the sermon slots. We were prayed for daily, and a couple even gifted us some money to take a wee holiday.

    I had daily cause to thank God for the other friends that He has placed in my life, and for the way He has taken care of us throughout. I thank God that we were in Whanganui at the time of the accident – meaning that we were at my mother-in-law’s side within minutes. Rev G and his mum were immediately able to head for Napier where Eric and his partner lived, to be with Eric’s partner.

    I thank God for my friends A-M & J who we were staying with at the time. They took over looking after my kids for me; they comforted, cried and lamented with me. J even drove 6 hours to pick up Rev G from his brother’s house.

    I thank God for my family, and for the many messages of support we got from friends. They meant a lot.

    Shutting the door on 2020

    Despite all the sadness and grief, I feel as if I ended 2020 on a good note. Much to my gratitude.

    I spent hours working on a Christmas Extravaganza day at my church, and organised/directed/wrote the Sunday School play for the following day. It was exhausting, but SO MUCH FUN. I loved working alongside the creative souls from my church who took my ideas and ran with them, and made them into something wonderful.

    The weekend of the extravaganza shifted something. Everyone felt it. New life was breathed into the church, and the weeks following have seen renewed energy and enthusiasm and fellowship in a congregation that has been without a minister for several years.

    I have also had some new life breathed into me. I signed up for Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project over 2021. I have not been dreadfully unhappy over this year, but it has been hard, and I figure any help at improving my happiness would be great. I love Gretchen’s work, and her evidence-based approach to making small changes that have a big impact on one’s happiness.

    The course challenged me to think about what I want to change or improve upon, and what fun to inject into the year ahead. Because I’m Angela, I started my goals on Boxing Day, and have been making some small changes already. I have been religously doing my back exercises given to me after it was decided surgery on my spine (injury due to car crash) was too risky. I can be a bit sporadic with these exercises in times of busyness, but I’ve set up reminders throughout the day so I don’t forget!

    Rev G and I have been ending the night with a guided prayer of Examen (check out Pray As You Go under retreats and resources). The music and talking is so soothing it gets my brain ready for sleep.

    And, just for fun, I am spending some time each day learning Norwegian. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and amuse myself by declaring “Jeg snakker Norsk!” as often as I can to my startled family.

    Each month through the course I’ll be doing with Gretchen has a different focus, and I am very much looking forward to trying some new things this year.

    I don’t think 2021 is somehow going to magically fix the Covid-19 situation, nor make all my problems and worries disappear. It’s just a year. But I am glad to shut the door on it.

  • Family

    Life Update

    Gosh, it’s been a while since my last post! Not planned, but life has been busy.

    I’m enjoying my job managing social media and marketing for a local church. The work lets me unleash my creativity, and I have almost total autonomy, which is how I love to work. It’s a high-trust environment – if only all workplaces could be like that!

    I find myself baffled that it is September already. Covid-19 has interrupted the yearly flow of life. I have not done half the things I wanted to, nor caught up with all the people I want to see. My brain still struggles to comprehend the pandemic. The fear, the masks, the social distancing, families separated. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’d like to just take a nap until all this is over!

    On our way to catch the bus – Level 2 style

    I was on a retreat by myself in Kerikeri when it was suddenly announced that NZ had moved back into Level 2. My ‘break’ turned into a very stressful time as my flight home was cancelled…then put back on but with no guarantee it would go ahead…

    As you can see, my retreat wasn’t all bad!

    I made it home just fine. And eventually I got to relax, just not in Kerikeri!

    So far this year has been spent in lots of pain, thanks to the injuries from my car crash. My knee is mostly better though, and I’m able to get around without noticing it now. I have seen the surgeon who thinks my spine and knee require surgery, but I am awaiting more scans before he can proceed. I find out in three weeks.

    The pain has made me tired and irritable and not very social. So if you’re one of the people on my list to visit with, sorry. I will get to you eventually.

    All four of us have spent most of the winter catching everything that’s going around. This is normal for us the first year we move somewhere new! Different bugs I guess. Rev G has been very rundown, and has been dealing with coming to grips with his new job, and dealing with settling estates for his father and aunt, and now is in the process of selling two houses! We’re praying for a quieter year in 2021.

    But having said that, I’ve met lots of new people through church and the two Bible/Prayer groups I’m part of. My faith has grown tremendously this year, and I’m about to start a discipleship programme that I’m really excited about. More to come on that in the future.

    We are enjoying our new church, we feel like we relate well to this congregation, and it’s been a good fit. I’m enjoying the wide variety of theology they embody and the things they are passionate about. I have many ideas of things I’d like to do there, but they are shelved until after I have surgery.

    Our church
    Matariki decorations at church

    Rev G and I have taken great comfort in our old friendships. It’s nice to just be Donald and Angela, and not the Minister or the Minister’s Wife to our mates. I was reflecting the other day how I find life in Wellington is much more stressful than I remember! I guess I prefer life in smaller places where the traffic isn’t so mental and most amenities are all in one spot. But here we are as a family nonetheless, and I trust that it’s for good reason.

    Miss E and Master D are thriving at their new school. Master D went through a phase of not wanting to go to school, after they returned in Level 2, and I was worried that perhaps the Montessori method didn’t suit him. But he got over that, and is happy as Larry now. Miss E has a BFF (her Mum runs an after-school forest playgroup, yes!), while Master D’s teacher says he’s friends with half the school (he’s very, very extroverted). He is now a sophisticated six-year old and likes to leave me little notes saying “Mum you I love.” and “poo”. Poo is hilarious when you’re six.

  • Uncategorized

    Back to school feelings

    The children’s school has been great at helping them process life in a COVID pandemic, without dwelling on it or scaring them. For their schoolwork today they are asked to draw a picture and write about how they are feeling about returning to school next week.

    Master D gets to work and draws a picture of himself and a friend driving a robot each. I’m not sure if he was trying to make a statement about the increased use of technology in the classroom or the perhaps the perils of artificial intelligence (as one of the people in the robots doesn’t look too happy)? I’m sure one of those options is correct. Deep, Master D, deep.

    Miss E draws a thumbs in the middle (neither up nor down, my little Roman historian). She writes that she doesn’t feel that good about going back to school.

    Worried about her anxiety, I ask some probing questions before she finally reveals her reticence about school…she won’t be allowed to trade Pokemon cards anymore.

    Yeah, I think my kids are gonna be fine.

    We potter about. I make two batches of cheese scones – it is a pain to be gluten free. We are cheese scone addicts I confess, although I must make a batch of plain ones after discovering you can actually buy clotted cream in NZ now. My mother has been waiting to try it for her entire life after reading about it in books.

    Our mail brings a nice surprise for me, a supermarket voucher as a thank you for participating in a university study. I ALWAYS participate in uni studies whenever I meet the criteria as having run several studies at uni myself I know how low the take up rates are. I am also part of a pay-for-taking-surveys site, which is an easy way to make some free money. You won’t get rich, but I have made over $100 this year already just by taking a few minutes each day to take part, and I think that’s not to be sniffed at.

    I spend the afternoon refreshing my social media skills, and taking a few free courses as research for my new job that starts next week. There are some cool new tools I have discovered which will serve me well.

  • Uncategorized

    Level 3: Day 7

    Master D wakes up multiple times in the night. He is scared. He is hot. He needs cuddles. It takes Rev G and I back to the newborn days, and not in an ‘Aw, how cute is it that he needs us?’ way.

    We’re exhausted.

    Rev G is kind and lets me sleep in, and as I try to get going in the morning, it is clear that I am still not over the bug we’ve all had. Rev G got it first, and it lasted for days. I’m so tired I can barely think – just how Rev G was last week!

    Unfortunately for him, my lack of energy means he has to be on the kids today. He has work to do, so you can imagine Rev G’s stress levels and tiredness from the interrupted sleep! After lunch I lie on my son’s bed as he keeps up a stream of consciousness monologue while he colours in an activity book. He just needs company.

    Master D’s room needs tidying quite badly, but neither of us has the energy to do it. I lie there, trying to summon up the willpower for a cleaning frenzy. It does not magically appear. Does anyone else feel like they’ll have to do a massive clean when all of this is over? I find it almost impossible to keep up with the daily tornado of detritus my children leave all over the house.

    Miss E does her schoolwork, some of which is just using reading and maths apps on the laptop. Although we normally don’t let out kids near apps, today I am grateful for these, as they are keeping her happy and occupied.

    She has had her ups and downs over lockdown, but has mostly taken it well. She is keen to do schoolwork, and is generally just a good, sweet kid. I know she is still scared about the virus, but that anxiety has lessened considerably, and she has adapted to our new normal without too much complaint.

    Master D is a different story. Although his behaviour has been better over the past few days, his anxiety is still quite evident. He is just over it. He’s angry and just wants to get back to playing at school.

    Master D finishes his colouring, so we snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. At the moment he HATES being alone. Even though I’m not 100%, I can at least give him some one-on-one time, and my presence.

    I eagerly watch the 4pm update from our Prime Minister. I thought she was giving us details of what Level Two will be like, but that is being left until Thursday. Still, she is in talks with Australia about a Trans-Tasman bubble – perhaps our planned trip to the Gold Coast in July may still happen? I live in hope…

    I am still confident we will move to Level Two some time next week. Now the end is in sight I have noticed I’m more able to do more high-level thinking, even despite my tiredness today. My word puzzles are easier to do, I’m back to watching my favourite murder-mystery shows, I’m back to reading books. I feel peaceful.