protecting our children

Dear friends

This morning I read the headline that Brady was dead and my mind went back to many years ago.

In 1994 I was serving as a full time missionary for the Lord, assigned to the England Manchester Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of my first areas was at the edge of the Pennines, a town named Oldham.

As we met people on the streets, a question was often raised concerning the nature of God and:

Why did He let that happen to those children?

I didn’t understand at first and then someone mentioned the names – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.  I understood; I explained to my American companion.  This is where it happened, this was the town, our view to the hills was a view to the moors, Saddleworth Moor.  Five children, tortured and killed in the 1960s, buried on the moors.  I was not born but the murders were notorious and 30 years later, even with the guilty ones in jail the community still felt the pain and anger; no remorse was ever shown.

I have not come close to feeling what those parents and the community felt.  But there will be some people who sadly have.

Summer is approaching and growing up it seemed this was the time when children tragically featured in the news – Sara Payne, Milly Dowler, the Soham girls, Jamie Bulger.  This has made me cautious as a parent; I think it’s made many parents cautious and changed the way children play outside the home.  

Today the world has predators, games, social media and wrong influences in the form of images, music, films that can reach right into our homes, through modern technologies.  We can not let down our guard or let anyone else raise our children.  Our children are still vulnerable; they are our treasure – they need teaching, they need our protection.  Its difficult but not impossible.  As parents, I believe, that we must trust God, stay close to Him and His counsel, and everything will be alright.  

The world is incessantly pulled by a flood of enticing and seductive voices.  Overcoming the world is trusting in the one voice that warns, comforts, enlightens, and brings peace “not as the world giveth.” 

Elder Neil L Anderson, April 2017

Spring time…

Beautiful park scene in town, 18 April 2017

Dear friends

It’s most definitely spring and despite a chilly breeze – we’re on the coast – we’ve had some glorious sunshine the whole week and I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t done a good spring clean.  

Last year’s spring clean didn’t really happen and I resolved to make sure I took time off this year when everyone else is at school or work to take care of the house.  Though I’ve took days off in March they were spent doing my second job (reviewing student work experience log books) and only one day I managed to do some work in the garden.

But in the last few days… (the Easter weekend) … we’ve assembled two chests of drawers (to replace the one big one that we’ve had since not long after we married), stripped our sons’ bedroom of wallpaper (that’s been pending since the ceiling was filled in about 6 months ago), and I got my hair done (pick & drop, curly lion mane style – I’ll try taking a selfish and show you) and Friday opticians, I have permission from Daur1 to spend money on myself and get new spectacles, you deserve it she beamed having recently purchased a Chromebook for herself… even though I keep giving her bus fare to get to work because she never has change!!

Anyhow, it is a wonderful time of year! Sunshine yesterday, rained at night, sunshine today.  I took some tree photos and spotted a Norway Maple – I know this tree now because on my latest project the tree officer is objecting to a grade B1 Norway Maple being felled to make way for our development.  So we’re going to work on keeping it… 

Norway Maple – distinct red and cream colour during Spring

Anyhow, I’m rambling!!  Easter weekend was great – though I had an awful piano lesson (too little practice) and my teacher said my cuckoo sounded like it was on drugs – and as I tried to sit peacefully in sacrament meeting on Sunday, to focus on the speakers, the atonement of Christ, His love for us, my love for Him, I couldn’t help thinking which way would an intercontinental nuclear missile be launched from North Korea, east or west? And where would that be intercepted? Where would the fallout be if it exploded in the atmosphere? Over Africa? Over the Pacific? Would we, here in the UK, see pink skies?… troubling times.

And at the moment the BBC news app replaces North Korea and Trump headlines for some UK news on the royal family (Prince Harry coping, or not, with the loss of his mother at age 12 and the reality of mental health), it hits us.  We’re going to have a General Election in less than 2 months (7 weeks and 1 day from when I’m writing this).  

The media is going to be full of it!! But I suspect the electorate are full of apathy. 2014 Scottish independence referendum (phew, we’re all together); 2015 general election (conservative clear win, not a surprise), 2016 EU referendum – WHAT!? I’m still to openly meet more than one person that owns up to voting leave but, I’m told, they are there! Oh, and a new PM; (And 2016 US presidential election, which, although it’s own another country, let’s face it, the whole world got involved! WHAT!?…); 2017 Brexit notice really served – farewell to EU legislation et al 😦 

And now, bring it on, 2017 UK General Election!  Son1’s first opportunity to vote, a cohort unable to vote in the EU referendum and hugely affected by the outcome, gets to vote in a snap general election.  However, the context has changed: Article 50 notice has been served, the UK will leave the European Union; EU residents are openly made to feel unwelcome – sad but true in many places; and there will be changes to immigration laws, something which could have happened without leaving the EU but….  I suspect that whoever chants UK First the loudest will win.  

It’s Spring, Jesus did rise from the dead and is alive today, and one day will come back, meanwhile let the games begin… again.

And the prophet said…

Dear friends

This past weekend (first weekend in April) was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member.  This happens twice a year, six months apart, and is when the general (world wide) leaders of the church address the general membership and the world.  With satellite and internet technology, wherever we are in the world, we can receive the messages, virtually instananeously, through live streaming, audio and/or video as the conference takes place at church HQ conference centre in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

As a Latter Day Saint I believe in living prophets and I trust that, for our spiritual safety, when they speak, we should listen and follow.  For me it’s​ no different to the trust the ancient Israelites had to have in Moses, that if they followed him, they would gain their freedom from the Egyptians where they were in a state of slavery.  Which ultimately is what happened.

So the conference actually all began last weekend with the women’s session where female church leaders spoke on trusting the Lord and not leaning (Proverbs 3:5-6), the beauty of holiness and being faithful, certain women, in the New Testament sense.  And then an Apostle (Henry B Eyring) spoke on the peace that we can only receive from the Lord Jesus Christ; it was sublime.

When you prepare yourself for conference, it’s as if the speakers are speaking to you, personally.  The words resonate within my spirit as I hear words of truth.  There were admonitions to be kind, charitable, true, faithful, how to recognise and follow the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, how to not live by fear, how to overcome the world. 

And the prophet, Thomas S Monson, in his Sunday morning address, asked: We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? And the answer: I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety.   And to develop and keep a strong testimony: read the Book of Mormon, each day 🙂  And the promise if we do this? 

As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.

I am very grateful for the simplicity which is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ – it is a the greatest blessing in my life and that of my family.  I love our Saviour, Jesus Christ; I’m grateful that He speaks still through living prophets, same as anciently – all things have been restored.  

next appointments…

Dear friends

The next appointments arrived at the weekend – pre-assessment and then an admissions appointment for surgery.  The latter under the care of Dr R, not the same consultant, and the procedures are not listed.  

I looked up Dr R.  He’s a gynaecological oncologist.

At least it’s only a few days to wait now.  I called to confirm the admission appointment, a week after the pre-assessment.  

I’m trying hard to not be anxious.  I’ve told my boss what’s happening – I don’t know if I’ll be in work towards the end of the month! And I’ve told a colleague I’m working with – our youngest son’s were born within days of each other. His son was diagnosed with retinal cancer months later.  We can talk.  He did say to me you’re religious, that will be a great help.  It is.  He understood that it’s the waiting for now; the not knowing what, if anything, is wrong; the silence from every health professional – we agreed that they must be trained not to mention cancer unless they’re fairly certain. The first medical professional to say it with their son was when they sat in Great Ormond Street hospital!  

So I’m hoping that next week they’ll be able to give some answers, let me know what will happen the week after, and what happens from there.  I’ll let you know 🙂

for the ladies… update

Dear friends

Not long after the last post about this, I received two appointments in the post; one for December and one more urgent one, for last Friday, for a hysteroscopy to rule out any more serious condition, such as cancer.

(I decided not to post about my feelings leading up to this appointment, in an effort to reduce anxiety and not appear alarmist. We all have different ways of dealing with anxiety and stress!. The idea is to help someone with my posts, not to create more stress!)

I went to the appointment on my own, my dear husband was working and the younger children needed picking up from school.  I’d met with my Mummy at lunchtime – hot chocolate (with a couple of ibuprofen for me!) – who was very pragmatic about everything – oh, there used to be a very nice gynaecologist at that hospital a few years ago…  it’s probably just a polyp or cyst or something…

A few minutes before my appointment time, Dr M called me into his office where I met Dr H and medical student G. After some banter on comparing lengths of training for doctors versus architects, and the salaries, I was asked to explain everything, in my own words, the situation, everything, and I mean everything.  It was like opening up the bedroom door when my dear husband and I are together.  I knew the consultant needed to understand but still… awkward!  Dr M did a hand drawing of a womb and lining – clearly he had done this many times – and explained the procedure and what he thought, from the ultrasound, the problem was, a 16mm polyp on the womb.  They would remove that during the hysteroscopy.

So then it was time for the procedure.  They were pleased I’d prepared myself with ibuprofen and then 2 nurses came in, screen pulled, strip of everything from waist down and have a seat, use the towel to cover yourself … and there I was, seated on a half chair with leg supports, in my socks (was that a hole in the toe?), when I made known I was ready and the screen was pulled back to reveal the 5 medic people.  I began to focus on ceiling as, with my legs in the supports, not a dignified position said the older nurse on my left, and Dr H began raising the seat up and tilting back (though I honestly couldn’t sense the back tilt).  Speculum….  (attempt 1) … can I have another, long speculum, gel again… (attempt 2 and I recalled a practice nurse telling me to always mention that a long speculum is needed for cervical smears) – let your knees drop down more… you have long legs… Dr M, there’s a polyp right by the cervix opening, you should come see?  So Mum was right, I think, as I hear Dr M come closer and I focus on the ceiling tiles (why are they so unattractive in hospitals when ceiling manufacturers have so many options for so many situations, it looks so dated…) OUCH!!! And I grip the hand rests.  That really felt like a needle went in!!  Ohhhh, I touched it with a cotton bud! (Dr M)  

The older nurse starts making conversation with me – were you at work? what do you do? what kind of buildings do you work on? at least you can go home after this! (Sympathetic smile!).   I join in knowing there’s a long way to go, they’ve not even given the local anaesthetic!! 

OUCH!!! That felt like a needle too!!! Ok, there’s no point continuing, we’ll do this under general anaesthetic. Said Dr M, and that was that! The screen was pulled, I could hear the room empty and when I emerged Dr M was alone, writing notes.  

Give me a minute and I’ll explain all.

Then back to his hand drawn womb to demonstrate what he saw – polyp at cervix opening and area of abnormal cells on the other side which started bleeding when I touched them. So, considering how uncomfortable you were I feel it best to do the hysteroscopy, biopsy and polypectomy under general anaesthetic. Any questions?

I had many but asked him only two.  1. Since these have to be done under general anaesthetic, can’t the right ovary situation be looked at at the same time – surely that’s more efficient? (He had explained earlier that a laparoscopy – small incision in abdomen plus camera – would be required to do investigate the right ovary).  So that’s the plan – he was a little concerned about the length of such a procedure but agreed it made sense. 2. was any of this related to age? Only the irregular, shortening of periods; not the womb thickening, bleeds in between or the pain. 

Dr M did say he’d try to get a date within the next month.  Older nurse came back with form to fill, writing the procedures as Dr M listed – she’s having an MOT – he drily said to the nurse. (MOT –Definition from the free dictionary online for my friends not familiar with UK terms. MOT. [not an acronym] (UK term for a full-body scan medical exam; derived from the Ministry of Transport test car inspection).   Pre assessment were closed that afternoon so it’ll probably be another visit before the procedure.  And then I was free to leave.  

That evening I read up on possible diagnoses (bad idea) … cancer survival rates seem to be measured in chance of living five years… in five years our youngest will be 13 years old…  I read up on how a laparoscopy is done… I also discovered that not all abnormal cells are malignant…  I think you can find anything you want to on the internet if you look hard enough!

Following a priesthood blessing a couple of days later, which my dear husband administered, I no longer feel so anxious! Heavenly Father knows me and I do trust Him that he’ll guide the doctors in all the investigations and procedures. Ultimately, I know everything will be alright.  For now, I need to learn to be patient and wait… 

seeing the good, tender mercies

Seeing the good and tender mercies can missed, like seeing the juxtaposition of old and older in this Normandy village

Dear friends

My last post – small things -set the scene of last week’s events – it was a difficult week! But I should say that during this, I did notice the Lord’s hand and his tender mercies, protecting our family – I especially felt this when the clutch on the car failed.  It could’ve been a lot worse!

It could’ve failed the day before, on our way to church (children and me in the car, we would have all missed partaking the sacrament), or on our way back home from church (all five of us again and none of us took coats – it wasn’t raining but it’s not mid summer!), and we live about an hour walk from church.

It could’ve failed on Saturday when I use it the most – Son2’s piano lessons, Daur1 work (drop off & pick up), Son1 pick up from late shift at fast food restaurant.    

It could’ve failed on Friday, the chauffeur evening, when the three older children were in the car and we were traveling on the motorway at 60 miles per hour on our way to or back from the stake centre in the next city.

It could’ve failed on Wednesday when I had the pelvic scan and in the afternoon I took my dear husband, down the motorway at 60 miles per hour, to an eye appointment at an out of town clinic, before coming home to take oldest siblings to evening Seminary.  

The leak could’ve been nearer the middle of our room, rather than the corner.

And the mouse, well, that could’ve gotten to the front room and scurried all over my dear husband and I during the night… nibbling toes…. eeewwwww….

From Apostle Elder David A Bednar (April 2005):

the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).

hymn humour…

Dear friends

Today there was an awkward, but funny, moment in sacrament meeting.  

While the bread is broken before being blessed and passed to the congregation, a hymn is sung by the congregation – the sacrament hymn.  These are some of the more reverent hymns, leading our thoughts to the Saviour Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, the bread and water being emblems of His gift, and how we show our renewed commitment to follow Him.

Today, the sacrament hymn was number 173 in the hymn book ‘While of these emblems we partake’.  On the facing page lay #174, ‘While of these emblems we partake’.  Same lyrics, different tune.  

If only the missionaries were not the chorister and organist.  If only our 80+ years organist was playing the organ today. If only the Bishopric realised the mistake. If only the whole congregation were more musically literate. If only our congregation knew the tune to hymn 173…

So many if only’s… The result, after the first verse the congregational singing fell to an all time low volume…  there was some recovery by end of the final fourth verse.  I didn’t hear anyone speak of it afterwards – it was so shockingly bad, I think we were collectively too embarrassed!!

This is how it should sound. Enjoy!!

Tender mercies

Dear friends
This past weekend has seen some miracles in my life, not large scale like parting the Red Sea but equally meaningful to me and I know the hand of the Lord was involved.  A prophet (Thomas S. Monson) has said:

The Lord is in the detail of our lives

I truly believe that and these are the details where I saw Him in my life the past few days.  I encourage you to look out for the Lord and the Holy Ghost at work in your life – Father is always there.

1. Finding matches: Some weeks ago we noticed the match box (we use them for lighting the gas cooker) was low. They were on the shopping list but last week when we went shopping we couldn’t find them in the household goods section. None. This wasn’t critical until this weekend but my dear husband still didn’t buy them.  Yesterday, Sunday we used the last few and I checked with dear husband that he still had a lighter (he’d bought them to light to cooker but I find them difficult to use without lighting my thumb!) So early this morning, resigned to using a lighter, I went to my husband’s desk to find one. As I dug around the top drawer, lo and behold!, I find a small box of safety matches!! 🙂

2. The conference talk: last Sunday, after sacrament meetwith as I was getting the classroom ready, for the youth Sunday School class that I teach, I was asked to give a 10-15 minute talk on the Saturday evening session of stake conference, in 6 days.  (For those of you who are not LDS, this is a large local area meeting for the church, the Saturday evening for all adults, so typically around 200 people in attendance).  The presiding area seventy had made some changes to the proposed programme and asked me to speak.  No topic – I was to be inspired, like general conference (from Salt Lake City, for everyone #LDSconf).  I looked at him and said “Me?” I was a little incredulous but was assured that this is what the Lord wants.  So last week I prepared a talk, completing it in the early hours of Saturday morning, the theme being who are we and what is our relationship with God and each other.  I timed it, 11m 30s, and practised reading it a few times.  When I was asked to sit on the stand, beside another speaker (who said she’d received her assignment some weeks ago, with a verse of scripture to base it on), I still has no idea when I was speaking or the other topics.  As the meeting began, I peered forward to check the programme held by the stake president.  I saw my name, after the intermediate hymn and right before the visiting seventy.  I was the penultimate speaker, eeekk!!  I did, however, feel a great calm as each speaker spoke. And by the time the stake president had finished, I knew that the talk I had prepared was in fact the perfect summary of the previous three – right down to the stake president using a phrase which I had written.  It was one of the most sublime experiences that I’ve had and I am humbled to know that the Lord knew that I had the personal views and experience that would meet the stake’s needs for that meeting. (I’ll post my talk separately).

3. My tablet – I have a Samsung 10.1inch Galaxy Tab 3 tablet and since a little after Easter it has not charged, at all.  I had bought some new cables, left it charging, returned from work, and nothing.  The children were interrogated. I’ve never understood the full story – “Son1 killed it” “Daur2 switched it off!” “I didn’t touch it!” You know how it goes!  I took the back off, back on, left it to rest, tried again but nothing. So, I reluctantly decided to take it to a fixer shop at the end of this month (payday!), dreading how much I’d be charged.  This morning, as I was about to go to work, I thought, let me try again, and I set it to charge.  I’ve already learnt to be patient with devices… seconds later, the screen lit up with the battery symbol, charging!!  Yeah!!! 🙂

PS – when I told our daughters about the tablet charging again, they gave each other a knowing glance and Daur2, we thought it might – maybe Heavenly Father took it away so it wasn’t a distraction while you were writing your talk!!

spring is back!

Dear friends
This weekend is Easter #Hallelujah and the clocks spring forward so we are heading into long, long evenings.  We have virtually 7 months of British Summer Time… it’s almost ridiculous to me that Greenwich Meridian is based in the UK, given most of the year we spend in BST!  Anyway, spring it is – grog spawn has been seen in ponds, daffodils are blooming everywhere, pumps are replacing boots, and Son2 left (abandoned!) his jumper at school!  We’ve had the school Easter concert – a great, stirring rendition of Bring him home from Les Miserables by the school concert band (not featuring Daur1 on flute who has been committed to revision sessions) and the Glee (interesting!) version of Homeward bound by the student led A Capella choir, featuring Daur2 singing alto. 
And today is my last full day in the office until early April – I have to go in next week to get a new, long awaited, laptop, but that will be the morning only.  And I think tomorrow we have a cinema trip planned – Batman vs Superman and Kung Fu Panda 3!  And I really must do some Christmas preparations!!  🙂