Thursday 18 March 2010

Lessons learned . . .

The Gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice.

~Gordon B Hinckley

All the packing materials arrived last night and the move became all that much more real. Our laundry room is filled to overflowing with cardboard boxes, paper and bubble wrap. Now begins the real work of packing everything away and getting it ready to move. It doesn't seem possible that in two short weeks from today it will all be over and we will begin the business of sorting everything out at the other end.

Oh how very much I will miss the good and kind people here in our church congregation in Tundbridge Wells. Oddly enough when we first moved down here we did not like the Ward at all. We found them to be a bit stand offish and hard to get to know. Of course having come from the North part of the country, that is to be understood . . . Northerners are a completely different breed of people. Open and gregarious . . . five minutes at a bus (boos) stop and they know everything about you, including what you had for breakfast!! Todd and I are quite shy people and we had a really difficult time at first fitting in down here.

We came to church week after week, and would go home feeling empty and sad. We really missed our friends up North . . . we really missed feeling a part of the Ward. On one particular Sunday we decided not to go. I said to Todd, why didn't we find a local church where they did a Sunday Evening Song of Praise Service . . . and so . . . we decided that is what we would do, for if nothing else, we would at least enjoy the music. I went upstairs to our bedroom to change, while Todd began to search on the computer where the closest one of those might be.

I got as far as my bedroom door and all of a sudden the thought came into my mind. Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?? The answer came immediately. Of course I do! If I believed that to be true then . . . how could I go anywhere else to church. Little did I know that downstairs at the very same time, Todd was asking himself the same question. I turned around to go downstairs to tell him what had come to me, as he began to come upstairs to tell me the same. We met each other halfway and the first thing we said to each other was . . . Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God???

There was nothing else for us to do but to continue to come to the Tunbridge Wells Ward . . . where else could we possibly go??? There was nowhere. We took up the attitude that if we were not a part of the solution then we were a part of the problem and we decided to try to move outside ourselves and reach out to others instead of waiting for them to reach out to us, and in no time at all we felt completely at home and at ease with everyone. I was inspired to do a monthly newsletter for the ladies in our Ward, which was instrumental in me getting to know them better. Little by little we wove ourselves into the fabric of the Ward and began to love it's members. Now, some almost 7 years later they are family to us and we can clearly see that they were not cold and stand offish at all at the beginning . . . it was only that we were missing our Chester friends . . . and feeling a bit homesick, and holding ourselves back and aloof.

Now . . . it will be very painful for us to bid them farewell and leave. We will be leaving a huge chunk of our hearts behind here in the South. It is a well known fact that the Ward in Tunbridge Wells is a special Ward, filled with kind and special people, filled with love. This Ward has a wonderful reputation for being one of the nicest, kindest and warmest, most loving Wards in this whole area. We have been so blessed that we got to be a part of them, and we will miss them dearly. They all know that there is a standing invitation for them to come up and visit us at any time and I hope and pray that they will. (Just not all at once though!)

Where love is, there God is . . . and He is surely present in the Tunbridge Wells Ward. We may give without loving . . . but we cannot love without giving.

This is a delicious, comforting casserole that will become a family favourite I am sure! Adapted from an old cookbook my mother gave me years and years ago. Todd just loves this.

*Heaven and Earth Casserole*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Sweet potatoes make a change from regular potatoes here. It may sound like an unusual combination to put together sweet potatoes, onions and apples, but trust me when I say they go together beautifully! Heaven and Earth because it epitomizes all the best of both . . . the apples from the tops of heavily laden apple trees, and the sweet potatoes and onions from the earth . . . and everything else in between.

1 pound of pork sausaages (I use cumberland)
3 cups peeled and thinly sliced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup peeled and sliced onions
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 peeled and thinly sliced apples
1 TBS packed soft light brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a casserole dish and set it aside. Begin by browning the sausages over medium low heat in a heavy skillet. Continue to cook them, turning them often while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Layer the vegetables in the prepared casserole dish. Start with some sweet potatoes and the apples, Sprinkle with some seasoning. Then layer on some onion. Repeat the layers until all are used up, ending with a final layer of sweet potato. Pour the stock over all, and then sprinkle the brown sugar over top. Cover with a lid and then bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and take off the lid. Top with the sausages. Scatter the cheese evenly over top. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for several minutes before serving. Delicious!

Over in The English Kitchen today . . . a scrummy Milky Way Cake!


  1. Such beautiful things learned, Marie! I think we've all felt that way moving into a new area & important to open up to those around you--and SO very hard to do at first!

    I know you'll do a beautiful job of it back up in Chester, because you already feel at home there...isn't that a blessing?!

    Wish I could help you with the packing and moving--not an easy job! I'll be keeping you both in my prayers as I have been. I love you loads and know all will go more than well!

    YUMMY casserole, by the way! Looks so delicious! I love the name, too--just perfect! Have a wonderful day, my friend--I'm off to dreamland!

  2. Every time I move I say never again. I am sure it is very difficult to leave but there will be new joys awaiting for you.

  3. I love what you've written here, Marie. Having moved many times, I can really relate to being the newcomer and waiting for others to reach out first, and then realizing I have to do my part too in order to settle in somewhere new. It's not easy but the rewards are so enormous! I agree with you that the T Wells ward is special, we miss you all like crazy!! It's hard leaving little parts of your heart scattered all over the place, isn't it. I know they will miss you both too. I hope the packing goes smoothly, wish we were there to offer a couple of extra pairs of hands. xoxo

  4. My dear and lovely Marie, Im sure where you go God is with you, because God walk with us and dont let us alone never. I believe in that. Blessings my dear Marie to you and Todd, gloria

  5. The recipe look awesome dear Marie, huggs! gloria

  6. Such beautiful, heartfelt sentiments, Marie... Leaving is so hard sometimes, it is never easy. And neither is moving. How much you will miss your church-family in Kent. But I am glad that you are going where there are friends, church community and people you know in Chester. It will make the move easier. Or at least I hope so! Wishing you all the best with the packing and all that needs doing. Two weeks is not long! I'm still struggling a bit with this cold--not much fun. Our anniversary celebration yesterday was very quiet & at home as a result--but very lovely, with many a walk down memory lane. :o) Speaking of lovely, these photos of springtime glory are gorgeous! Happy Day, dear friend...miss you! LOVE YOU HEAPS ((BIG HUGS))

  7. Good luck with the packing Marie. For me that is the hardest part. I do find that it is nice to go through everything -- kind of like a huge Spring cleaning. It will be so nice to get to your new home.

    What a wonderful story. You and Todd are so blessed to have each other and to believe in the same things.

    Love you my friend. I wish I could come over and help you pack! Jeff is in London right now - I am sad I wasn't able to come with him and pop in to say hi!


  8. I'm so sorry to hear about Jess. You and Todd are having such a rough time. I had read your e-mail, I just wasn't sure how to respond. I'm so sorry.

  9. Amen to every word. I too know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Wish I could come help you get all moved in and settled! Take it "one bite at a time" and it will all get done. The recipes sound very good...have a good week! :D

  10. Thats sounds a great recipe Marie..not sure about the sugar but if you say it is ok. it must will give it a try soon.
    (I have often said when friends have said they did not feel welcome at this or that chucrh, nobody had spoken to them etc etc. I say well did you speak to them? it usually makes them think !!)
    I hope the packing goes well. when we left Scotland for Bath Mum was much to ill to do any packing so friends help me till we got rid of all but the most loved goods ! who can leave books behind !! however we moved from a 3 bed to a 1 bed some had to be gievn away. In the end we had the removal men come and whilst Mum and I sat and had a cuppa they packed everything around us leaving our chair till last !!
    All will go well with your packing I am sure
    Love Sybil x

  11. OH Marie...I know how you feel. We've had our fair share of moving about, mostly when our kids were tots. It's always so very hard to leave behind the old world. But...all of your friends will still be your friends'll make new ones in your new world!!

    I don't know how much longer you'll be blogging until you pack up the computer and make your move so...

    I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that, when things calm down and the loss of Jess has softened a bit, I'd like to do a custom piece with a dancing Jess. Jess' head on a vintage body. Not to sell in my shop, but to make just for you. So...when time allows, you can gather up some photos and send them onward in an email, at your leisure. We'll talk about it more after you're settled.

    Love to you both:
    Gerushia's New World

    P.S. For anyone interested, I'm having a big give-away on my blog right now ~ 5 of my art prints.

  12. beautiful job of it back up in Chester, because you already feel at home there...isn't that a blessing?!

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  13. what a wonderful story marie-i think so many of us get wrapped up in how we feel in a ward and people we don't like and stuff like that that we lose focus on whats important and why we go to church. because its the true church! and to worship our Savior the way He would have us do. what a great example you are.

  14. I heard a story about a couple that moved into a new ward... when they met with the Bishop to introduce themselves they asked him what the ward was like. "What was your last ward like?" the Bishop asked them. They told him that it was a wonderful ward with very friendly people. "You will be happy to know that this ward is exactly the same"

    The very next day the same Bishop met with a different new couple who asked him the same question. When he asked about their last ward, they told him that it was an unfriendly ward and they never felt like they belonged. "You will be disappointed to know that this ward is exactly the same." replied the Bishop.

    It has more to do with how we interact with others than how others treat us.

    It's a lesson that applies to so many situations!

    Sending love to both of you!


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