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  1. Sometimes it’s not God who’s far away

    July 9, 2014 by bekkyb

    The thought drifts into my mind… I haven’t spent much time with God lately. None, really, save the odd one-line prayer for something I need. I know it’s where I need to be: wrapped up in my Creator, letting him carry the burden of my worries so I can focus on what’s real and purposeful in life, so I can hear his voice, so I can be soothed at the soul level. So why is it so hard?

    I’ve lived my life below the surface, quietly contemplating, a glass wall between me and the outside world. Suddenly it’s like I’ve stepped outside, and the wall is still there, but I’m on the outside looking in – or I would, if it weren’t one-way glass. All those deep thoughts, that place where the spirit lives and the subconscious swirls through a mist of symbols and memories, have become a mystery to me. I am cut off from myself, and so I feel cut off from God. I sense his presence, but have no means with which to connect on a conscious level.

    There’s been so much going on, perhaps I’ve just put it all on hold too long and forgotten how to pick it up again. Six weeks of nannying in the most crazy intense job you could imagine – the level of disorganisation of the family, the sheer number of activities the two older children had between them, meant there was no time to live within myself. I had to be fully in the moment, keeping track of a hundred little details all at once.

    Then there was the wedding, my sister’s wedding, where I was matron of honour and there were things to do and the big day came and in the midst of so much going on, my step-dad was in a horrific car crash that he was lucky to survive and he’s going to be alright but it’s left us all shaken. We all had to put that on the shelf for the day, just get through the wedding and cope with so much emotion when it was all over.

    That same night we wondered if our baby was coming early; and the next night, too, and there were hospital visits and tests and last-minute dashes to the shops to get a few more things for the hospital bag just in case. All was declared to be as it should, and we went home, and yesterday I relaxed for the first time in nearly two months. I opened my drawer to find a book, and there was The Book, and I looked at it, and it stayed there. I know I should read it, but what if it’s like so many other times when I read it and the words don’t seem to make sense? What if it doesn’t speak to me? Is there value in simply reading, if there’s no understanding, no gleaning of wisdom, no message to take from it?

    The Message. That’s what it’s called, this particular translation. I enjoy the modern language that lays things clearer, that embellishes for the sake of understanding, that carries the message deep without first needing to translate from outdated phrases. And it occurs to me that I’ll never know if it’ll be worthwhile if I don’t at least pick it up and read it and find out. And that’s not so hard – so long as I can sink a little further back into myself, where I can think and respond, where my heart feels and my spirit is restless and my mind is unraveling great mysteries.

    Here, writing this, I start that process of reclaiming myself…

  2. Counting this chick before she’s hatched?

    June 14, 2014 by bekkyb

    Sorting through invites for my upcoming baby shower, I was madly messaging various people for addresses. One of those people was Grandpa, whose sister is my Aunty Neesie. He sent back a reply with the address – then called straight after. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I answered the phone; nothing could have prepared me for what he said.

    “Don’t you think you’re counting counting your chicks before they hatch?”

    He was asking me if I had spoken to my husband about it, whether he supported the idea, if I thought I ought to get friends involved – shouldn’t I wait til the baby was born? Pretty much he was saying that I shouldn’t celebrate the upcoming birth of my baby because she might die before she’s born.

    All the joy, all the good feeling went out of me and instead I felt cold and empty inside as I tried to explain that baby showers are extremely common, and no you don’t have them when the baby’s born, and yes I was planning to go ahead with it still. He made a weird sound and ended the conversation with a “well, that’s your choice.”

    I cried. What else could I do? It was such a horrible, unnecessary thing to say and so out of the blue. That night I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The whole night I didn’t sleep properly, never got past dreams that were dark and filled with sad, queer feelings. I gave up just past 6 am and spent a miserable day dozing and watching TV, all the while wondering what had possessed my grandfather to utter such terrible words.

    Worst of all, it put the fear in me. I couldn’t think about my child – oblivious, she rolled and kicked as always, and I shied away from previously happy daydreams of what it will be like to see her and hold her for the first time. When I prayed to God, I thought of all the good Christian people – like my grandparents – who nonetheless lose children. How could I find comfort there? And of course the baby shower was tainted in my mind, mere folly and presumption masquerading as celebration. I was paralyzed, tortured.

    Now, something doesn’t make sense in all this. Grandpa is a devout, evangelistic and science-minded Christian. He believes very much in the personhood of unborn babies. Yet here he is, saying that we can’t celebrate the life of our little one before she has exited the womb. His words rung with superstition, suggesting that it may be ill-fated to host such an event as a shower.

    I’m determined to evict this cloud of negativity that took up residency with Grandpa’s unkind words. Our baby is a real, live person, whether she’s hidden away by my uterus or out in the open where we can see her. She gains little when she’s born besides a birth date – everything else is already there. We have every reason to celebrate her existence, and there’s no time like the present, while she’s conveniently tucked away, her every need met without my conscious attendance.

    I’m still waiting to get to the bottom of it all – I need to talk to Grandma (and they just happened to go away this weekend, together!) and find out what’s going on. I won’t hold it against my grandfather what he said, but I have been deeply hurt by his words. If there’s one thing you don’t say to a woman who’s nearly 8 months pregnant, it’s anything to do with the possibility of her baby dying in the womb.

    Little one, I look forward to meeting you face to face – the biggest celebration yet to come :)

  3. Looking back on growing up

    May 31, 2014 by bekkyb

    When I was a kid, there were two things I wanted to be (mainly): the smartest, most well-read person on the planet (including having read every book in existence) and a writer. Other ambitions included becoming a horse trainer, a horticulturalist and a farm owner.

    I am now 23, nearly 24 – still near the beginning of the “grown up” part of life. Looking back, I can see that I haven’t really changed much in all these years. Well, I don’t read much (though I wish I did – unfortunately I have the attention span of a goldfish and rarely pick up a book) and I’m smart enough to know that I’ll never be the smartest person on the planet. But here I am, writing away – less assured of my writing ability than I was a kid, but still unable to lay down the metaphorical pen and walk away from this identity I’ve clung to since my earliest sense of selfhood.

    Horses are still very much a passion, and for a while around the age of 10 I attended pony club and enjoyed it quite thoroughly. Alas and alack, horses are very expensive and I have yet to own a horse, and haven’t been able to afford lessons since that wonderful year of pony club all those years ago.

    Plants are another of those passions that has sat on the back-burner for some time. Living a gypsy lifestyle in a seemingly endless string of rental properties does not lend itself to pursuing the horticultural arts. I do remember the devastation of being some 12-13 years old and ripping up my beloved garden in the hopes of taking it with us to the new house, but it was not to be so. We waited six weeks with my grandparents for a new house to become available, and all my dear plants died waiting in unsuitable plastic tubs. I have dabbled here and there since, but have yet to rediscover the commitment and energy it takes to build up a garden, nor had much opportunity. Perhaps, in this house where the lease won’t run out on us, I’ll be able to get back into it.

    And as for the farm? I have married a guy who is just ITCHING to buy our first “smallholding” (he’s watched all of River Cottage and Gourmet Farmer) and grow our own food and keep livestock and all that. So it’s still a work in progress, mostly in the dream stage at the moment, but it’s definitely something that will one day be brought to fruition.

    It hasn’t turned out like I imagined as a kid. Indeed, my first reaction to the writing prompt “as a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?” was to think that really, I hadn’t come close to my vision at all. But looking back, thinking about growing up and what it looks like now that I have grown up, I realise I never really strayed too far from those early dreams.

    Thayne Rodrigo liked this post

  4. Accepting help

    May 30, 2014 by bekkyb

    Tomorrow we arrive at the 30-week mark in the pregnancy. Third trimester has brought with it an end to the breeziness that was the second trimester – now it’s all aches and pains and fatigue. I overdid it yesterday (five minutes on the cross-trainer at gym proved too much for my back and hips) and ended the day shuffling around like an old granny. Today wasn’t much better, and I paid a visit to the myotherapist in the hopes of getting things back on track.

    It was last night at mentoring that a friend and fellow mentor offered to help me with some housework. This came after I unsaddled my confession that Sean desperately wants me to be keeping on top of the cleaning and I’ve become physically “less than able.” In the split second I took to answer, I grappled with the two possible responses: politely decline, or gratefully accept.

    Often enough, it’s the former that seems easier. To accept this kind offer of assistance would mean sitting and watching someone else do the things I ought to be doing, if I weren’t so decrepit. That’s a tough call: the temptation is to get up and join in, to be at least as useful as she – which would defeat the purpose of her being there at all. It can be downright uncomfortable to let someone do you a favour, to wrestle with your own feelings of unworthiness. In reality, we’d all the do the same for someone else and insist the sit and put their feet up. So why is it so hard to be on the receiving end of a good deed?

    I suspect it’s a pride thing. Until you can see yourself as being that needy, it’s hard to accept that another person should do these things for you. Letting go of the idea that you can do everything, that you can cope with all life is dishing up at the moment, that your own strength and determination will see you through… well that just doesn’t gel sometimes. If I’m honest, if I sit with that niggling feeling that rises up every time I imagine sitting on my couch and watching someone do housework for me out of the goodness of their heart, I feel somewhat degraded. My self-image (as someone who is competent and can look after myself) doesn’t matter the image of someone who can’t do things for themselves.

    Accepting help means letting go of pride. It took a momentous effort to churn out a enthusiastic response of grateful acceptance, and agree to call her the next day to let her know when I’d be home. We’ve teed things up for tomorrow, and I’m still wrestling with this uncomfortable feeling. At the end of the day, though, I need to be square with myself and acknowledge that I can’t do it on my own, and it won’t kill me to let a friend lend a hand. After all, I’d do the same for any of my friends – and am I any better than they?

    Generosity is giving more than you can; pride is taking less than you need.

    - Anonymous

  5. German Spitz – A beautiful breed

    May 17, 2014 by bekkyb

    303Name: Tazzi

    Age: 12 years

    Breed: German Spitz (Kleinspitz)

    The Story

    JapaneseSpitzPhoto1 - hiro.jpg

    Japanese Spitz – these larger, white dogs are closely related to the German Spitz

    We bought Tazzi as a puppy from a home breeder who advertised him as a Pomeranian. As a pup he was a roly-poly little thing with a black stripe down his back and a rubbery pink belly. He was friendly, easy-going, and best of all, got along with our other dog Tangles the maltese x poodle. Soon enough he grew up into…. what looked like a very big Pomeranian!  After years of thinking that perhaps he wasn’t as pure as the breeders said, or that perhaps there was a different kind of Pomeranian that is naturally bigger (not far from the truth!) I discovered the German Spitz. In the same family as Pomeranians, as well as other Spitz dogs (such as the Japanese Spitz and Samoyed).


    The first thing you notice about Tazzi is that he is very friendly, and wants nothing more than to hold your attention and have endless cuddles. As a younger dog he was quite pushy, and tended to jump up a bit (often when I was walking he would jump a surprising distance and lick my elbow). However, he is also quite independent; he will tend to look around to make sure the rest of the “pack” is doing alright, but he’s more than happy doing his own thing. When it comes to strangers he is wary and shy, tending to keep his distance and keep up a steady series of “alert” barks that will nonetheless give way if his need for love and attention looks like being met by the stranger. He is incredibly loyal, and a bit of a one-owner dog, much to the dismay of my poor husband, who has tried to forge a bond with him with little success!

    Physical attributes

    Wikipedia says this about the German Spitz:

    The Spitz Klein has triangular ears and a small, foxy face that is less fluffy than the rest of the body, although the fur is still very thick. The fur around the neck is even thicker, giving the dog a lion-like appearance. The body has a fuzzy, woolly base underneath the straight, smooth upper coat, although it has a tendency to become crimped when wet. The tail will usually curl up over the back and sit flat. The dogs can be a wide variety of colours, including wolf sable, blue, cream, brown, orange, black, white, and a mixture of black/brown and white, and black and tan: gold and black dogs tend to predominate. The Spitz Klein ranges in height from 9 inches (23 cm) to 11 inches (28 cm), and in weight from 11 pounds (5.0 kg) to 40 pounds (18 kg).

    German Spitz

    Tazzi weighs in at about 7.5 kg. His coat is predominantly orange-brown, with a golden front, and black hairs that grow out from the rest of his coat and add even more texture and colour. He grows a fine feathering kind of hair around his feet and the bottom part of his legs, particularly in the colder months – originally Spitz dogs came from snowy regions of Northern Asia and the arctic, so they are designed to withstand extreme cold. How does this fare in warmer regions, you ask? Surprisingly well! In summer he will shed his woolly undercoat, and keeps himself cool by digging a shallow hole in the dirt and lying there in the shade. He actually seems to cope better than my Moodle, who has only a single coat. Although he does tend to shed a bit of hair, it is quite different to short-haired breeds such as the Jack Russel or Labrador. The hair collects in clumps on the ground – it does not tend to fly up and stick to every fabric item it can find. It is very easy to clean up, simply by vacuuming or sweeping, and clothes will come good in the wash.