Monday, 27 November 2017

Small and wonderful things . . .

"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But who gets excited by a mere penny?...It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. what you see is what you get." ~Anne Dillard  

A few of the small and wonderful things from the past week which brought untold joy into my life. It's the small things in life which truly mean the most. Simple abundance . . . it's the best. 
This is my good friend Audrey with her husband Peter. I know you will remember them. They came down to Kent to stay with us for a while when we lived down there and we went to the South of France with them must have been about 15 years ago now.  Audrey has been one of my best friends since I moved over here to the UK, and Peter was Todd's best man when we got married.  Audrey passed away quietly yesterday afternoon in the care home where she had been living for the past six months, with Peter by her side.  Audrey had been in hospital since last January and we had spent many an hour visiting her and spending time with her.  She was never able to come home in the end because Peter was just unable to care for her as she needed to be cared for.  She had no mobility left and near the end was unable to feed herself.  I went a couple of weeks back with my friend Tina to visit with her and I was devastated to see my good friend having deteriorated so much.  Audrey has been a great example to me through the years of a loving and devoted wife, mother and sister in the church, and a great friend. I loved her dearly.  We were Visiting Teaching partners for many years, as well as friends, and I had the priviledge of working with her as one of her counselors in Primary. She set the standard and bar for me in the church, and was someone that I have always looked up to, admired, and strove to be like. I am grateful that her suffering is over now and that she is free, but I mourn for Peter's loss.  I know he will be able to take comfort in the Gospel and knowing that they had been sealed together as man and wife and as a family in the Temple, and that now she is with their child that they lost a very long time ago, but He will miss her so very much.  You never saw a couple more devoted to each other.  Peter has spent morning, noon and night with her these past six months, attending and ministering to her every need that he could. Please pray for him and their family.  Thank you. 

 The Christmas Season is upon us.  This is my favourite time of year.  I love celebrating the birth of the Saviour and all of its attendant customs and traditions.  I love singing the carols in church each week, preparing the Christmas cards, decorating the tree, cooking the special foods we enjoy at this time of year.  I was always known as the Christmas Queen . . . . Christmas's are much smaller for me now. They are a lot quieter than in the past.  But they are still good.  I still have someone to share them with.   So many are on their own and lonely. This can be a really sad time of year for them.  If we could try to remember even just one person that we might know who will be on their own, or in need, and try to make a difference for them, that would be a very good thing. It needn't be a grand gesture, just to know you are thought of, and that someone cares, is a blessing to many. 


Advent.  I am not sure if yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent or if next Sunday is.  I love the season of Advent, although it is not something which is generally practiced in my church.  It is a time of remembering and bringing the holiness of this special time of year into your life daily in the weeks preceding Christmas. It is more than a chocolate calender that gives you a treat each day as you count down the days until Santa comes.  It is a time of spiritual preparation, and joyful anticipation.  The candles and their colours are packed with rich meaning, each one representing an aspect of spiritual preperation for Christmas. The three main colors are purple, pink, and white. Purple symbolizes repentance and royalty. Pink represents joy and rejoicing. And white stands for purity and light.

Each candle carries a specific name as well. The first purple candle is called the Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope. The second purple candle is the Bethlehem candle or the Candle of Preparation. The third (pink) candle is the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy. The fourth candle, a purple one, is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. And the last (white) candle is the Christ Candle.

When we lived down South, we used to take ourselves to the Village Church each Christmas Eve to the Christingle Service.  It was beautiful. All the children would be dressed in costumes for the Nativity and they would present a Nativity play.  Each child would also be given a Christingle. 


We really enjoyed this service and it was a big part of our Christmas Celebrations when we were living down there.  I am a traditionalist at heart.  I love the traditions surrounding these special times of year and their religious symbolism.  Even though I celebrate Jesus in my heart every day of the year, I love the opportunity to be able to celebrate and remember Him in a more overt way through these festive and sacred traditions. 


Christmas Movies.  Scrooge McDuck, otherwise known as Todd, thinks we should only watch Christmas movies on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  I have news for him. This year we are going to be watching them starting with the one we watched on Saturday night.  hehehe  Maybe he won't notice.  I need to get my jingle on. 

My mother wasn't quite ready when I called her yesterday but that gave me an opportunity to have a lovely conversation with my sister, which I really enjoyed.  There was a time when we used to speak to each other for an hour at least every morning, on the telephone. That's just not possible now I know, with the time difference and all, plus we both have busier lives for some reason.  So, spending the time talking in this special way yesterday was a real treat for the both of us. (I hope!)  So yesterday I had the extra bonus of not only talking to my mom, but also being able to share some time with my sister.  I miss her probably more than she knows. When my marriage was breaking up and everything was going down, she was pretty much the only person in my family who was communicating with me.  Christmas that year was a very lonely time for me, and took me from Christmas's that had been full of people and activity to a very sedate Christmas living on my own in a rented bedroom in a stranger's house. My sister took the opportunity that year to send me a lovely white flannel nightgown as a gift, which I still have.  It meant the world to me that she would do something so kind for me.  I appreciated it so very much, and while the nightgown is now a bit threadbare and not so white anymore, it is a symbol to me of a Sister's unfailing love and support for me, no matter what. Whenever I wear it, I feel like I am being hugged by her. 

As a cheese lover, this sounds like a very nice idea. Maybe I will get one for Todd.  He loves cheese.  The other day when I did my Cheese tray tutorial on the food blog, he had cheese and crackers, etc. for his lunch and he really enjoyed that a lot.   I think you can get these at Asda.  I am going to have a look anyways.  They are probably really expensive though . . . 24 days of cheese.

With that I best leave you with a thought for the day.  I want you to know that all of you are very special to me as well, and I appreciate each one of you very much.

Its a picture one.
Advent begins on the 3rd December this year.
(I checked)


BOOK OF MORMON CORNER - Today's Reading -  2 Nephi 2:11-21 
Talk - Howard W Hunter: God will have a tried people.
Question -What have you learnt from the reading today? Why is opposition so important? Has opposition ever helped you?
What I learnt - I love the thought that Lehi expresses to Jacob that God will consecrate (make sacred) our afflictions for our gain. I haven't had any really huge trials, but I do feel that when I have tried to do what is right in hard times and be open to learning from them,  God uses them to make me a little bit better and more like him. I hadn't seen this talk by Howard W Hunter before, he explains it really well when he talks about the boat race and how the rowers need the resistance of the water to be able to move forward.  Verse 11 has always been a favourite scripture of mine, and one that I clung to during those first few months after my ex husband and I had separated.  It was a very difficult time for me, but somehow I managed to scrap through it and had enough faith to know that ultimately this was going to benefit me in some way, and that God would use it to bless me and make me into a better person.  We all have to meet opposition in our lives, how we react to it can be the making or breaking of us.  I love this video here, called the Refiners Fire.  I highly recommend watching it. When you see what that women went though, you realise that anything life might throw at us is probably quite pale in comparison. That she could hold onto her faith through all of her loss is a wonderful example to me of the tenacity of the believing, faith-filled spirit.
Tomorrow's reading (Day 39) -   2 Nephi 2:22-3:5 
Question - What have you learnt from the reading today? What do you think is the purpose of Heavenly Father's plan? 

In The English Kitchen today  . . .  Easy Oven Mac & Cheese.  Deliciously simple.

I hope your week is filled to overflowing with small and wonderful things.  I think I might put my Christmas tree up today. We'll see.  Don't forget along the way of your week!

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And I do too! 


  1. I'm so sorry Marie that your friend Audrey has passed away. I will pray for her husband and family.

  2. Thanks Jan. She was a very special person. I know you would have loved her. She had such a kind heart for everyone. xoxo

  3. I hate what sickness and ill health can do :(
    Very sorry for your loss..:(

    We used to go to mass Christmas eve..but when the Littles started arriving it became was packed..and we fell out of it all..
    I used to love had boiled down to the only time we went.. we started again a few years back..every Sunday..and fell out again.

    This is us...

  4. So sorry to hear the news of your friend. Will pray for comfort for you and her husband. So hard to lose those close. Advent ill begin next Sunday. I found my wreath and will be setting it on the table and light 1 candle each week before Christmas. I'll take pictures when it's set.

  5. Thanks Monique, I have lost a dear, dear friend. I can well remember the chaos of getting the children to church, etc. at Christmas. It is such an exciting time but gets so blown out of proportion sometimes I think. It is wise to keep it simple and dwell on the important things of the season. The Saviour of course, but also most importantly family and the love of family! I know you are very good at that! xoxo

    Thanks Pam. Her husband will be out of sorts for a time I am sure. This past year has been taken up with caring for her. I will look forward to seeing your advent calendar! xoxo

  6. Your week looked like a sad but tender sweet one too. I feel so sad to hear about the loss of your dear friend. I will pray for her family. My heart breaks for her dear husband who has been so devoted to her. It's a true love story for sure. I love how you were such good friends with her, visiting teaching partners and served together in a calling. I have some friends like this too.
    I'm like you and enjoy the lovely traditions of Christmas. I love it all. This year will be a little different. My second daughter and her family are moving in with us the first part of December. They need some time to save money to get into a home. We have had them for a brief time before and they are an awesome family. Meanwhie, my oldest daughter is moving back to the states from Perth Australia. They are helping to meet them in Hawaii for Christmas. I can't imagine Christmas in Hawaii. We aren't big travelers so this will be a treat for us. We will be with them which is awesome. They rented a condo; so I hope we at least have a tree. This is a gift from them for our 50th wedding anniversary.
    I am just learning more about advent. I have a blogging friend from Norway that has been posting about some of this. I loved reading about the candles. I think that is so special.
    Christmas Eve will be extra special with it being on Sunday. We will just have Sacrament meeting but it should be a really special one.
    I loved that you were able to talk with both your Sister and Mom. Always enjoy the moments on this one. It sounds like you have an extra special sister. I would have loved ot have had a sister while I was growing up. I had two older brothers. My family have all passed; and it makes me sad, I miss them so much.
    My Roger probably feel like your Todd on the Christmas movies. He is such a champ and watches tons of Christmas movies. I often see a tear roll down his cheeks so I think he really does enjoy them.
    Gosh, I have really been on a roll. Sending love and hugs your way because I treasure you!

  7. Thanks very much LeAnn! Enjoyed your comment very much. Peter was here last night to get a blessing from Todd and we spent some time talking. I was a blubbering idiot. I have still not completely come to terms with it. Sounds like you will have a jam packed Christmas and Hawaii at Christmas sounds amazing! We have the same friend in Norway! ;-) I have known Tracy for yonks and we have spent time together in person as well. She is a lovely girl and I really admire the way she lives her faith. I love how she embraces the traditions of it and so willingly shares them with us. It is somehow quite beautiful to me. Love you much. I treasure you also. xoxo PS Happy 50th!

  8. Hi Marie~

    I'm so sorry about your sweet friend, it's always so hard to lose someone who you love and cherish. Audrey sounds like she was a wonderful person, and isn't it amazing how much you can come to love someone when you serve with them?! Her husband will be in my prayers. I think it's especially hard to lose someone during the holidays, thank goodness for good friends like you and Todd.

    I like to learn about holiday traditions, although we never really did anything with, Advent. I think it's very interesting though, I need to study up on it a bit more. The, Christingle service sounds wonderful.

    I live with the original, Mr. Scrooge...he doesn't like Christmas movies either! I usually have to bribe him to get him to watch one with me...I'm going to work on him! I love all Christmas movies, they just get you in the mood for Christmas, especially old movies.

    How wonderful to have a visit with your sister! I love the story of the nightgown, I can only imagine that you cherish it! I don't know what I would do without my sister, she really does keep me sane and balanced and grounded. I'm so glad you got to talk to your mom and your sister the same day!

    I love cheese!!

    I made your, Swedish Meatballs for dinner tonight...oh my goodness, they were delicious!! We loved them, and there is plenty left for lunch tomorrow, I can't wait to try more recipes, (my husband has marked a few he wants me to make... ;0) ).

    2 Nephi is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. We all need opposition in our lives to appreciate the good things when life gives us bad things. My life is good, but, I have had much affliction and opposition to deal with in my made me appreciate the good things all the more. I have some friends who lost their father last spring, and they just can't get over it. Both have left the church and started living a lifestyle that is so contrary to what both of them believed, it's so sad. I always think of the saying, "life is fragile, handle with care". I think the same thing about faith. We need to nurture it, feed it, and hold onto it for dear life!

    Hugs and Love,

  9. 2 Nephi has seen me through a lot Barb! I think we must be sisters from different mothers. We are so similar in so very many ways! Love your thoughts on opposition! Rowing against the current definitely makes for some strengthening qualities! My testimony is my most precious possession. I make sure that I nurture it and exercise it regularly! Love you! xoxo


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