Monday, 26 March 2012

A Dog's tale...


Lots of people. Big. Scared. New smells. TONS of them. What do I do? Scared. Strange room. Bright lights. Cage. Newspaper. Sick. LOTS of it. Whimper. Water. Food. Don't want it. Scared. More sick. More newspaper. Drink a little. Scared.

Howl. Howl. Howl. Person. Newspaper changed. Bed taken. Lots of hands. Eyes. Smiles. Curious. Food. Outside. Grass. New smells. Scared. Poo. Picked up. Back in cage. Bed. Tired. Sleep. Newspaper changed.

Lots of legs. Table. Loud noise. Scared. Toy. Chew toy. No. Shoe. Yum. Other dog. Play! Owch. Scared. Grass. Post. Wee. Ground. Ball. People. Hands. Pick up. Warm arms. Finger. Nibble. Person. Jump on. Yawn. Inside. Cage. Drink. Sleep.

It was comfortable...


Inside. People. Lean on. Shoe. Chew on. Human food! Big eyes. Stroked. No food. Aww. Outside. Hear a noise. Bark! Bark! Bark! No threat. Relax. Other dog. Take toy. No fun. Bored. Bug. Pounce. Eat. Sunshine. Lie down. Sleep. Sleep. Loud noise. Jump.

Person. Ball. Pick up. Run and get. Pick up. Run and get. Pick up. Run and get. Lead. WALK! Muzzle. Aww. Road. Smell. Mark territory. New scents. Grass. River. Water. Stick. Puppy. Growl. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Run. Treat. Pat. Stick. Chew.

Home. Hose. Water. Urgh. Shake. Person. Lean on. Door. Lean on. Lie down. Tired. Sleep. Rattle. Food! Sit. Wait. Come. Yum.

Don't I have such gorgeous brown eyes?


 An insight into the life of Alfie. Do you have a dog as sweet as this one?

Gina x

Unforgettable Memories ~ A Series

So although I’ve been silent for a few days up until today (two in one day... Radical, right?!), I have been thinking a lot about what I want to write on here. I thought it might be nice to start a little feature for a week or two. I haven’t run this by the others, but I just thought it might be nice to write down some of our memories from the last 18 (or so) years…

I’d also like to take the bold step of opening this up for reader submissions. If you’re reading this and have a memory you’d like to share then leave a comment and we’ll be in contact ASAP!

I’ll start…

On Wednesday the 7th of June 1994, Edward Lincoln Balshaw landed on the shores of Normandy. As a terrified, homesick and very wet (he was lowered over the side of the boat to test the depth of the water… he couldn’t swim!) 19-year-old boy, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to see. Yesterday had been D-day, and today, I imagine, was something like stepping into hell.

60 years later, my Grandad returned to Normandy for D-day Anniversary celebrations. For some very different reasons, he was also unprepared for what he would experience.

On one of the afternoons, they had decided to present all the veterans with a special memorial medal/badge, my Grandad included. Grandad appeared in the morning wearing a light summer shirt, perfect for the blazing French sun, but rather unsuitable to hold the medals that he had pinned to the front breast pocket. Having never worn his medals since being given them at the end of the war, Dad handed over his own suit jacket, and Grandad was made a tad more presentable for the occasion.

We drove as close as we could, but the crowds prohibited much proximity to the main event, so we travelled the rest of the way on foot. As a young girl holding Grandad’s hand, I was relatively unaware of what was going on around me, and in the busyness and heat of the day, so was Grandad. Grandma, Jonathan, Mum and Dad were following us and we soon found ourselves walking down a blocked off road, with people lining both sides. As we walked down the middle we began to hear the pitter-patter of claps. And more. And more. All around us, applause was breaking out. (I’m starting to cry as I write this now!) Grandad looks up and sees crowds of faces smiling back at him and clapping and cheering. It dawns on him… They were applauding HIM. They were thanking him for the sacrifice he made, and the battle he fought for THEIR freedom. Slowly he pulls back his gently sloping shoulders, straightens his back, with his head held high, and grips my hand, walking on with an overwhelming sense of pride.

Suddenly everything that he had gone through was starting to make sense. The horrors of his time in that place 60 years ago had really counted for something. Without him, these people would not have the freedom to stand in the streets and salute the men who had given their all.

This is probably one of the clearest memories I have of my Grandad. Seeing the releasing of pain and fear that he had held up for so long is something I hope never to forget.

A picture of my Grandad and Brother taken a few months ago on my phone when we went to stay with Grandad for what ended up being his last Christmas.

How about you?

Sunday, 25 March 2012


The enchantment of outfit possibilities...

The therapeutic aroma of a flickering yankee candle...

The rich comfort of a fresh cup of tea...

The luxury of a lazy morning...

The blessing of clean laundry...

The settling smell of home-cooking...

The gentleness of an empty mind...

The peace of knowing the when's and where's, and the how's and the why's...

The overwhelming sense of 'belonging'...


Spring Art...

It was a beautiful spring day in the land of Daffodil-dom. The sun was beaming down, we could feel its smile on our skin, and a beautiful clump of bright daffodils seemed to beckon Kate and I to draw them, as a simple photo didn't seem quite enough.

So, we grabbed all the pencils, paper, rubbers, fine liners we could find, and with Switchfoot 'Yet', 'Your love is a Song', 'Lonely Nation' and 'Needle and Haystack life' playing sweetly in the background we drew and we drew and we drew on the banks of a small stream. Both cats paid us visits, then we had to draw ourselves away from the magical spot and drag ourselves upstairs to add watercolours to our drawings. These are the results....

Kate's pencil drawing - isn't it beautiful?!

Kate's fineliner Dafs before...
... after water!

My fine liner sketch.. colour

I hope you've enjoyed a small taste of our spring afternoon!

~ Sarah and Kate

A Revision Playlist

  1. There Can be miracles- Prince of Egypt
  2. Over my Head- The Fray
  3. The Things we go through- Hawk Nelson
  4. Do You remember?- Jack Johnson
  5. Not Sure- Fiction Family
  6. Here for You- Matt Redman
  7. Best of Luck- Nickel Creek
  8. For the Moments I feel faint- Relient K
  9. Over Thinking- Relient K
  10. The Fight Song- Sanctus Real
  11. Burn out Bright- Switchfoot
  12. Patience- Take That
  13. Almost There- 100hours

I'm not sure I'd advise actually listening to many of these when you revise, but it's a little humorous list to lighten up your working day! The songs I would actually listen to would be wordless (Wordless?? I mean...lyric-less...) ones, such as 'Test Drive'- How to Train Your Dragon, or 'River flows in You'- Yiruma, or the Pride and Prejudice score, etc.
What do you listen to?
If you're working this easter- Good Luck!


Saturday, 24 March 2012

The First Day of Easter in Pictures

Revelation 22 : 7

How will this truth impact your life?
~ Sarah

Leaving the nest...

Hi everyone! This is my very first post, very exciting. 
I'm outside in the beautiful sun, listening to 'little river' by the tallest man on earth, eating chocolate ice cream, it's just perfect!
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the future and trying to work out what God wants me to do. Gap years, university, it all seems to coming too fast, and I find myself panicking and trying to plan every little detail. Last night I was reading the Bible last, and I read a few verses which inspired me to write a short song (I'm not sure I can even call it a song, more like a jumble of words that came to me, blended with a few Bible verses and a hint of a tune):

O my soul, why do you worry,
why do you fret.
My weathered heart, why do you search,
when He is right beside you.
My weary spirit, why do you burden yourself

For neither death, nor life,
nor angles, nor ruling spirits,
nothing now, nothing in the future,
nothing above us, nothing below us,
nor anything in the whole world will ever separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So He will rekindle my flame
I shall fly off into the horizon
rise on His wings, soar,
my heart will soar.
For I am in His hands.

2 Timothy 1:7 : 'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of  power and of love and of a sound mind'.

Lots of love

Friday, 23 March 2012

a glimpse of the past

Until this evening, my day had been tiring. I had a coursework deadline this morning, which was stressful. It was also the end of term, which meant that my whole room (at boarding school) had to be completely cleared out... my tendency to create mess meant that this took hours! (The room looked so empty afterwards.) There was then an accident on the way home which meant that the journey home from school took twice as long as normal. I found out babysitting tonight and I have to admit that I felt slightly resentful about it when I got home.

However, the two kids arrived at home with big grins on their faces and excitement in their eyes and my day was immediately brightened. After spending about half an hour deciding what to do with our evening, we settled on making a den. We laboured away, hanging up sheets, rearranging books, gathering toys and duvets, putting up bunting until, voila... we had our den!

This little adventure of ours took me down memory lane. My brother, sister and I used to make dens all the time! Our dens were our sanctuary. Our place to play undisturbed, our place where our imaginations could run wild, where we were adventurers, we were princesses stuck in a tower waiting to be saved, we were knights attacking from the outside, we were intrepid explorers discovering a new cave. Oh the bushes that we destroyed with our outside dens! If we made dens inside, they would last for days and we would insist that every game must be played in the den, every movie must be watched inside the den and on occasion, we were even allowed to sleep in the den.

What are your favorite childhood memories?

Much love,

The beginnings
The kids (don't worry- I asked their parents permission before posting this!)

The finished product!

Giving in.

The frustration inside him built up. It built up like a gradual crescendo of loud and discordant music, scrunching and screaming until it hit it's peak and trembled on the verge of explosion. He could not stand it any longer. He picked himself up and ran, as fast and as far as his shaky legs would carry him, stumbling the last stretch down the road to his house in a blind and teary panic. He wanted to scream. He wanted to shriek into the open, slightly dank, evening air. Let his cries carry over the village. Let them hear his suffering.
But there was silence.
No one could hear his pain, because no one was listening for it.
It had been six months since the passing of Thomas Long's little sister. The medics hadn't seen it coming, the doctors hadn't seen it coming, her family hadn't seen it coming and Tom hadn't seen it coming. No one saw it, because it wasn't foreseeable. Cars don't hit girls of nine years old. And they certainly don't kill them.

It's unbearable the way life goes on once yours stops. Maybe it's a lesson in humility, that the world doesn't centre on you, maybe it’s a lesson of our sin, that we've ruined this world- but that wasn't important. The only thing that seemed to count to Tom, or to mean anything, was the dark ache that waited in his lungs. It crouched in his stomach and it lurked in the back of his throat. It was this darkness that haunted Tom as he attempted, like a watch with failing batteries, to carry on, like moving underwater, like walking through fog.
No, no one was listening out for Tom because they'd all moved on- the card-senders, the church-goers, the well-wishers; they'd all packed up and taken their condolences with them. The Long family was left slightly more dazed than before but just as bereft and Tom couldn't stand it. No one wanted to remember her because it caused them pain- well, he would remember her even if he lived in agony for the rest of his life.

This was the determination that circled his head as he strode through his front door and climbed the stairs to his room. The door swung open and he turned on the light in the hands of monotonous, gloomy-routine. Inexplicably, the roving feeling of dark nausea swelled in Tom's stomach. It surged again, with increasing momentum. The sight of his room was becoming repulsive- it was the feeding-ground of tears and anger and unexplainable pain and bereft longing and missing and curses and hate and jealousy and depression and all the things that erupt from the hole death tears within you. Tom stood there for a few motionless minutes, dust floating in the air around his head, caught in the evening sunlight.
"God." He whispered.
He didn't really know what he was saying. Only that words were ebbing from a place without a shore- a terrifying ocean of endless pain that he knew waited at the edge of his subconscious. He knew it would consume him. He wasn't sure if he cared. He wasn't sure about anything. He only knew that this wasn't fair. And if this wasn't fair- someone was responsible. And if someone was responsible- they had to be brought to justice.
"God, was this you?" He whispered. Was it God? Wasn't God meant to be loving and all powerful? Wasn't God good? Wasn't He in control?
Tom had thought he'd known God. He thought he'd understood...didn't God understand? He'd prayed to God constantly, he'd accepted Jesus, he'd loved Jesus... he knew God had cared for him then... but now. Now everything was shaking. Everything that he thought had been as firm as rock was cracking, crumbling like the tower of Babel. The only thing that remained constant enough to latch onto was rage, a throbbing red haze that seemed somehow tangible when all else shivered in and out, halfway between something that made sense and nothing at all. The anger. It made him want to scream at God. To accuse God. To fight back.
But somehow...
He knew he couldn't.
A groan rumbled from the back of his throat and in despair, he sank to his knees and felt the short bristles of the carpet acutely as they rubbed against his skin. There lingered a smell of dust and the familiar feeling of tears in the back of his throat. He moaned. The pain. The constant, wearying affliction of pain that just wouldn't abate. He couldn't stand it. He missed her. The frustration boiled over in his stomach and he doubled over under the pressure, placing his head on the carpet and digging his nails into his arms with intense ferocity, the tethers end dangerously close...
"God?!" He was calling out. He knew he needed help. He knew he couldn't cope on his own. Everything was wrong. He was wrong. He could see that. He couldn't shout at God because deep within himself, deep between the needles of remembering and forgetting was the knowledge that he was wrong and God was right. God knew his pain. God felt his pain and God was in control. He knew it.
"God!" He cried. He cried into the carpet. Tears and more tears mingled down his cheeks.
"God! Where are you?" He needed God. The strain on his voice cracked-
"God, are you here?!"

I Am.

The answer rang like a clear bell into the mist. It peeled off, but Tom still felt the echoes run down his spine. He shivered, his eyes wide in astounded silence. Nothing happened for a moment, and he lifted his head slowly from where he lay. Seconds turned into minutes. He felt each breath like it was a disturbance. Then, gently, words began to float into his head, a whispered sentence that came back to him. They felt familiar, like an old friend, like something he'd lost and found again, something he'd wanted returned but had given up searching for...

"For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

It was a verse his sister had sung months ago. The sing song voice still lingered against the verse, her small, slightly tuneless tones fluttering against the words. She'd believed it. He could still picture her steady, level gaze as he'd teased her singing for being whiny, shaky. Listen to the words Tom.
Tom did now. He let them lie. He let the verse sink in and soak up the rotten emotion pooling inside of him. It worked like a sponge. There began to be something unintelligibly different. There, amongst the foaming dark, was the tension of relief. A spot of white in the black. It was like suddenly gulping in air when you hadn't even realised you'd been taking such small, suffocating breaths. God knew. God had taken this pain, absorbed it, when he'd died on the cross. Of course God knew what it was like to lose someone you loved, his own son died. He died for Tom. He died for her.
She knew that.
She was there.
She was safe.

Tom lay on the carpet and abandoned all sense, abandoned all anger, and abandoned all grief. Six months on and finally he was giving up. Not on life. But on death. He surrendered himself to God who lifted the pain of his shoulders and held it himself. Then he picked Tom back up, brushed him down, and put him back on his feet.

'I got some dreams...'

Last October, my family, some friends and I went to Ireland. We had a wonderful holiday there. We walked along the beach at night. We ate out every supper time, just because we could. We discovered new caves and spent a lot of time sitting and chatting. We also went round a lot of ruined castles. It sounds really boring but it was actually really fun to think about all the people who used to live there and imagine the wars that were fought there.

We were in one such castle and it was in a beautiful location by the sea. The castle was massive and you could just imagine the vast courtyards and the elegant decorations inside. I wanted to be back in that day, sitting by the tower window as the sea lapped onto the shore. Anyway, I suddenly had a deep desire to get inside this one beautiful tower, overlooking the sea. We tried every window and door but couldn’t get in so finally my Dad and I climbed round the side of the tower (much to my mum’s dismay!) trying very hard not to fall in order to see the beach, which was stunning!

The beach that we saw on the other side of the tower
As we climbed back to safety, we noticed a nook in the wall. When we reached inside and lifted up a rock, we found a load of sheets of paper with people’s dreams written on them. They were written by an American (I’m not sure why we thought they were American, maybe they wrote ‘high school’ or something) Christian Youth Group. They had such beautiful dreams, like ‘meeting a wonderful woman with whom I can spend my life building and loving a family’ and ‘leaving the world a little better than I found it.’ The most superficial of the dreams was from a girl named Diane: ‘To own a blue zippy convertible!’- it didn’t quite have the depth of the others! We wrote down our dreams and left them under the rock, too.

Me, my sister and our friend reading the dreams we found
As we’re thinking about leaving school, we’re having to consider what comes next. Making uni plans is a little scary and I have no idea what I want to do when I leave school. It’s great to make these plans but I also love thinking long term- you know, what do I really want from my life? I can’t remember what I wrote on that piece of paper existing somewhere under a rock in Northern Ireland but I’m sure the dreams are very similar to the ones I have now. some of the others and I wrote down our top 5 dreams to share with you:

Me (Megan):
1.     Bring more people into the Kingdom of God and be in a relationship with Jesus all my life. To learn what pleases the Lord.
2.     To fall in love with a man who will bring me closer to God. To spend my life loving him and a family
3.     To graduate from law school and maybe pursue a career in this area.
4.     To enjoy playing the piano. To spend time reading and searching old second hand bookstores. (By the way, I found an amazing one in Lyme Regis which I want to do a blog post on one day- I could spend hours there!)
5.     To see as much of the world as I can- and go on a massive road trip. Maybe even visit each continent (except Antarctica)

When I was little I dreamt of… being a ballerina.

1.     To get to the stage where I can talk to anyone and everyone about the love of God without fear or hesitation (become like Hadassah- if anyone gets this reference I will be amazed!)
2.     Work for a charity
3.     Have a family who I can love unconditionally, a family being any
4.     Write a book
5.     Travel to South America and go on a road trip around America.

And when I was little I dreamt of… being a doctor.
Another adventure

1.     Tell everyone I’m ever close to about the amazing love of Jesus.
2.     Become a Mum J
3.     Become a speech and language therapist
4.     Build an orphanage
5.     Meet Switchfoot

And when I was little I dreamt of… being a cat.

1.     To follow God’s plan for my life without any fear- to become fearless so that my own insecurities don’t hold me back from leading the life that God has planned and called me to.
2.     To me a wife and a mother. I believe that faith and fellowship starts in the home and I just really believe in the importance of showing God’s love to your children and that’s one of the major ways that, as a woman, I can express God’s to the world.
3.     To get a cat named ‘Mr. Darcy’ and a turtle named ‘Speed.’
4.     To decorate my own home and to make it a place that not only expresses my personality and my creativity but also that I can use as part of God’s ministry to welcome people in. It would be a safe house so that people can feel that they can come to my home if they are in need or they need comfort and shelter. My parents have a sign that says “bidden or not bidden, God is present.’ I want him to be bidden in my house and to dwell in my home.
5.     Nurture my passion for creativity. It’s so hard to put into words what I feel when I see gorgeous blog posts and pictures of cute, adorable… such pretty things. Like vintage dresses, perfect cupcake recipes and tutorials on how to make life lovely. I just want to have the creative flair and patience to make my own dress, to make presents for my friends, to bake, to persevere with the guitar, to experiment with photography and to delve into the world of creative bliss.

When I was little, I dreamt of… being a princess (and finding my prince.)

1.     To serve Christ in everything I do. To live spiritually and to always have the right perspective.
2.     To meet someone so perfect for me, so that I can honour God and enjoy his blessing of marriage. To be a mum.
3.     To master the guitar.
4.     To experiment with music, photography and literature and to realise my full creative potential.
5.     To write and record a song to professional standard/and to write a book
The whole of the Ireland crew!
When I was little, I dreamt of… being a writer.

  1. To serve Christ to the best of my ability all my life- talking about him with others WITHOUT fear or inhibition.
  2. To write a book about something I care about (maybe even an allegory of the gospel?!)
  3. To meet the 'someone' who appreciates Jesus more than me, but loves me and respects me, and will create a God-loving family with me!
  4. To persevere with guitar and piano, making music, publishing music, enjoying music.
  5. To be what God wants me to be. And nothing else.

When I was little, I dreamt of... being a farmer.

(This is tricky for me to choose only 5 dreams....!!)
To love like God loved me, and be compelled of this sense, deeper than words can describe.   

      1. Hear Jesus' voice so clearly and depend on His presence  
      2. Be an artist  
      3. See the Holy Spirit move in France and Spain
      4. Have a beautiful husband with a heart sold out for God, with who I can run with the Lord, who                          is bonkers for Jesus and a world-shaper. 
      5. And to have children that love God.

When I was little, I dreamt of... being a vet.

Don’t they all have great dreams!

On a side note: Check out the difference in length between Abbie’s dreams and Eve’s! When Abbie was writing her’s, we were about to go and watch an episode of ‘West Wing,’ so it was a little rushed to say the least!

What are your dreams? 

Love, Megan 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A special gift

Receiving your first bouquet is a special thing. Mine was a surprise, wrapped up in tissue paper to be revealed at the right moment.
There was a reason; it wasn’t just a random act of spontaneity, and it was a special reason...Abbie, Milla and I have all just been confirmed. It was a great moment, declaring to the world that we love Jesus Christ, we realise that he loves us and died for us and that we want to spend our whole lives serving him!
So the next day, unbeknown to any of us, Megan shepherded us back to the house and revealed three bouquets of flowers, nicely wrapped, with a large smile. They were beautiful!
Partly for the sake of some interesting pictures, and partly for aesthetic value, Milla and I arranged them chaotically in some different vases and placed them all over the house. Their lovely smell lingered over the kitchen for days, washing over everyone as they entered into the house. So really, this is a post to say thank you to Megan!

Love and prosperi-tea :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Spot of Tennis...

Frolicking! It seems to sum up what we have been experiencing this afternoon.... images of sunshine, joy, hysterical, uncontrollable laughter, adventure and non-elegant FUN spring to mind. Of these listed, all were experienced.

Let me begin with the late arrival of bubbling friends, trundling onto the spring-green tennis court, and with one flourished flick of the hand, tennis balls come flying out of the tube and onto the ground and little bubbles of uninhibited giggles erupt.

Sunlight hits the strings in a Beautifully English Spring scene.
The gasped "noooo" after a mis-hit and the hysterical arms waving of 'yeeeeah' when an ace fired the line contolled our afternoon. It was the "euoo-euooo" (Monster's Inc reference for anyone that's a fan) that got me the most.

There literally was a symphony of laughs. It's the only way to describe it...I feel sorry for those playing football below us, in a calm, collected, motivated, inspired, sporty, competitive, NORMAL way...

I hope you enjoy the taste of really a very normal, but as always colourful afternoon of ours!

Natural Light
Love, Sarah (sorry, signed in on Milla's...)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A question

This is a question that has been asked to me and had been going round my mind.

It's not a comfortable one.
It's not an easy one.
It's not one that you will have an instant reply to, not if you answer it properly.
But it IS inspiring.
And it IS motivating.
It's challenging.
And it will make you wonder on it for a long time...because it's the kind of question that deserves a good answer.

What would your life look like if you were ten times bolder?

Think about it. Seriously. What inhibits you now? Do you make decisions out of a fear of punishment or from a place of love? Because the Bible tells us that 'Perfect love casts out all fear' (1 John 4:18) - 'There is NO FEAR in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.'

I don't want to make decisions out of fear. I want to make them in love, because God IS love. (1 John 4:8 and 16).

I'll leave you with the question once more, and I dare you to allow your mind to REALLY ponder it.

~ Sarah

What would your life look like if you were 10 times bolder?

Some beautiful people

This is my gorgeous sister, her beauty is enhanced by an incredible, God-given personality. She agreed to do this photoshoot for me for my A2 Photography, so thank you Milla!

 This is my first proper experiment with portraiture, so I'm sort of making it up as I go along and copying what I think it might be. Eve here has kindly conceeded to be my model - Doesn't she look stunning?
'Beauty is a fragile gift' - Ovid.

One of my favourites - such a genuine laugh.

Love and prosperi-tea :)