Chewing gum

I don’t ordinarily chew gum. The only time I ever chew gum is when I am sitting on a plane for the take off and landing. It protects my ears. Other than that, chewing gum has no appeal to me whatsoever.

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I am traveling with my husband Keith at the moment and we have been away from home for over six weeks with two more to go. We have done a bit of flying, so I have chewed more gum than usual.

Keith has a peculiar and debilitating health condition called trigeminal neuralgia. If you have never heard of it, you are blessed indeed. The trigeminal nerve is a three pronged nerve in the face that goes to the eyes, the nose and the mouth. Neuralgia means nerve pain. When this particular nerve has pain, it is terrible, searing pain. It is like having an ice pick stabbed into your cheek, or like continual electric shocks. He had not had an episode for fifteen months and we were beginning to relax. He had even reduced his medication by half and we were filled with thankfulness for good health and no pain.

Suddenly, last week while staying in Washington DC, it returned, a bit like a thunderstorm. It erupted out of no where and created havoc. This episode is different to the last one. The pain is constant making eating and speaking almost impossible. I had to ask the question “Why Lord? Why now? Don’t you realize that next week we have all these meetings with people over meals? He needs to eat and speak!” We both felt overwhelmed with not knowing how we would cope so far from home. I could feel panic welling up in my insides.

I began to read Psalm 27 (one of my favorites) each day and reminded myself of deep rich truths about what God is like.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? “

Three things I know to be true about my God – he is my light, my salvation, He is the stronghold of my life. Reminding myself of these truths is a great counter to fear – and I had much fear rumbling and tumbling around.

I was also challenged by David’s single longing – to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life and gaze on His beauty. My longing at that moment was for healing – complete healing for Keith. This made me stop and think about what really mattered to me.

The conclusion to this Psalm is both soothing and challenging.

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

We had met with this wise and godly man earlier in the week, Curt Thompson, a Psychiatrist and a Christian who has written a couple of books. We met at a Starbucks and had an amazing conversation with him. I mentioned in passing about learning to wait for the Lord. He stopped and asked me to elaborate. Before I knew it, I had shared briefly but deeply about my personal experience of pain and difficulty. He sat and listened. Keith then shared about his health condition and how it looked like it was returning. He sat and listened. We spent an hour together, and he asked if he could pray for us and he did and then we parted with hugs. A Christian brother on the other side of the world was there for us to help us unpack “waiting for the Lord”.

We were staying with very dear Christian friends when Keith’s pain erupted spectacularly. The three of us sat and watched Keith as he valiantly and bravely attempted to eat and continue to speak normally as if nothing was wrong. Oh it was hard to watch. We joined hands and Melinda prayed.

On our last night with our friends, they invited another couple over to pray over Keith. This couple have a unique ministry of prayer. It was an amazing and incredible experience. We prayed for healing, we prayed for mercy, we were reminded of deep truths from the scriptures, we were held, we were loved.

I returned to my original question about “why now” and could see the why clearly. We were staying with friends, we were in a safe place where we were loved, and with people who walked with us. They listened to us. They prayed with us and for us. My heart was filled with thankfulness at His amazing provision and reminder that He loves us and that we have an abundance of blessings to be thankful for. I felt like I had been given a taste of gazing on the beauty of the Lord.

So why did I begin by writing about chewing gum? We left Washington DC early the next morning. As we sat on the plane, I got out the gum and offered a piece to Keith, little thinking he would accept it as chewing is like eating shards of glass. He took a piece and began to chew. After twenty minutes, he realized that the pain had eased sufficiently that he could eat.  Speaking is a different matter, however, that is why we are a team, as I can speak, I can ask the questions. I am his helper and friend.

In three days, Keith has chewed more gum than his previous lifetime. Who would have thought that the Lord would answer our prayers so creatively, by giving him a lifeline of managing his pain.

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New York – 2

To survive in New York, I found I needed to focus on tiny things. In a city that is large, brash and self-confident, it is easy to walk so fast to keep up that you fail to notice small tiny things.

I love the Impressionist artists, in particular Monet. I remember when Keith and I visited L’Orangerie in Paris, we sat in the water lily room for what seemed like hours. Monet painted his water lilies again and again and again. He never tired of them and managed to make them look different – the light, their size, their shape, their colour. It is no longer just a “water lily”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a wonderful collection of art, breathtaking in its breadth and beauty. It contains some Monet, including his water lilies. I could have spent hours in that place, slowly meandering from painting to painting, however, you get pulled by the crowds and need to dodge and dash and are forced to move in a perpetual loop from one gallery to the next – ah, yes there are those water lilies and then they are gone as you move onto Renoir and then Degas.

There is another artist, who lived and worked in New York  – Georgia O’Keefe, who also painted flowers. This is what she said:

“So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”

I can’t paint, but I love to take photographs. So I spent time taking photos of little things that gave me pleasure. I am sure that most New Yorkers don’t notice many of these things, but they are there if you look for them.

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New York – 1

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I had always wanted to spend time in New York. It was one of those “must go to” places that I had stored away for one day. There are landmarks there that are familiar to me as if I had been there already: Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, Times Square and more recently Ground Zero. The idea of a week in this city appealed enormously. In my head, I had decided that I would love to stay in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan.

I have just spent a week in New York. We stayed in Brooklyn. I visited all those places and then did more – img_3419

 

I walked across Brooklyn Bridge, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Museum.

We queued at Times Square and went to see Jersey Boys. I went to church at Redeemer. I got to hear Tim Keller preach. We walked on the High Line that passes through Chelsea. We managed to see President Obama. I did all this with my husband Keith.

We had seven days of clear blue skies and hot temperatures. It was amazing, it was awesome but it was also overwhelming and exhausting. We were in New York when a bomb exploded in Chelsea a day after we had passed through this neighborhood. We awoke to numerous texts from family and friends asking if we were ok. We were ok, but it shook us.

This is not a city to visit if you don’t feel strong. A week earlier, I had broken my toe, making walking difficult and painful. You need to be able to walk when in New York. We had to walk and walk and walk and I didn’t feel strong at all. I craved open space, open horizons and silence. Mostly, I craved a quiet seat where I could sit and stop.

I found it crowded, busy, noisy and utterly perplexing. Traveling by subway confused us. We would emerge like scared rabbits up into Manhattan, never completely sure if we were at the right place and then struggle to find the right entrance to take us back in the right direction. Uptown, midtown, downtown are meaningless until you are familiar with this place. The C line has more than one number and if you get on the wrong number you go to the wrong place.

Walking the streets of Manhattan sounds like fun. But it takes forever to get nowhere and the island is enormous and goes on and on. There are traffic lights at every intersection, so it is stop start for cars and pedestrians and we were never confident to ignore the red stop signals like other pedestrians as the cars drove in the opposite direction. There are so many high rise buildings that it is hard to get a sense of perspective or space and I felt like I would suffocate as I walked up Fifth Avenue or Seventh Avenue hoping to reach Central Park.

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Almost every iconic building is tall, majestic and glorious. You have to look up. It is a bit like being surrounded by man-made idols that say “Look at Me! I am invincible!” 9/11 changed that and the twin towers that were supposedly indestructible fell and disintegrated into nothing. While at the Ground Zero Memorial, listening to a fireman speak about that terrible day, he recounted how he couldn’t believe that everything from both towers turned to dust – no desks, tables, computers, debris, simply a pile of dust.

I read this verse from Proverbs while in New York and found it comforting:

“Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2

While in this city, it is easy to think that it is the rich, the powerful, the young and energetic who have it all. But you will also find the poor, the marginalized, the vulnerable, the homeless, the elderly in this city. You see them in Central Park. You will see them in the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. The homeless and the trader play ping pong together. The sprawl out in the sunshine on the same grass. They sit at the same long tables and read books.

Whether rich or poor, He is our Maker, He is our Lord. This prayer of praise captures this truth succinctly:

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

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Making a lemon tart

Today I am making a lemon tart.  Lemons.  Ever since I met Amelia Bedelia as a child I have had a thing about lemony things.  Lemon meringue pie without the meringue.

Pastry.  I have made pastry all my life.  Sometimes it works while other times it is a disaster.  It either won’t roll, it sticks to the bench or it crumbles as I try to put it in the pie dish.  Last time I forgot to put the beans into the pastry shell while baking and then wondered why the pastry rose and filled the dish.

Ground almonds, I need to grind the almonds, I need to grind the raw sugar.  Then I add the flour, the butter and create fine breadcrumbs.  Cold water is added ever so slowly.

Today the pastry rolls perfectly, it goes into the flan dish and then I reach for the beans.  They are in a jar with a pretty lid.  I bought this jar soon after I married and have used these beans each time I have made a pie or a flan or a quiche or a tart.  They are over thirty years old and look at them. Misshapen, burnt, smelly, but they have lived in my cupboard in this jar all this time.  This time I open the jar and pour the beans into the flan.

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The beans really should go out.  Memories of other pies, fruit pies, the time I added salt not sugar to the pastry time, meat pies, lemon tarts, countless lemony tarts.  Not once have these beans complained about losing their beauty. Silently they have filled empty pastry shells, gotten hot and dry in the oven and then been poured back into a jar and thrown carelessly into the back of the cupboard until next time.

“Beans, I really need to get rid of you.”

“I am going to use you one last time and then put you in the bin.”

I pour the beans onto the pastry shell, and put the dish into the oven.  One last time.  Then they are going.  I go to my shopping list and write “dried white beans” for my next shopping trip.

I put the jar into the dishwasher.  Its never been washed, not once and it is like I am about to erase its relationship with these beans as it has watched them age.  In my mind I see the lid covered with luscious fruit that is red, orange and blue with German writing around the edge. I remember the jam in the jar from thirty years ago.  It was rich and delicious.  It was the kind of jar I wanted to keep forever.  A perfect home for my blind beans.

I pick up this lid and look at it closely and see faded fruit covered with rust. It looks jaded and tired. I hold it in my hand and wonder when that happened and how it happened without me noticing.

A new jar with a new lid with new beans is too much.  A new jar will get buried and hidden in my crazy cluttered cupboard.  This jar, and this precious lid are a part of making pastry and I am not ready to replace it. When I need my baking beans, I know what I am looking for and I can find it without thinking.

While the pastry bakes blind using my beans one last time, I turn to making the lemon curd.  I juice the lemons, crack eggs, cut butter and add them to the bowl. As it cooks, I can smell the lemon and the thick buttery texture is begging to be tasted.  I get a small spoon and scoop some out of the pot, into my mouth and soak up its lemon richness. I think about Amelia Bedelia and her lemon meringue pie.  If she came for dinner tonight, I am sure she would ask for the largest piece of lemon tart, even though there is no meringue and then demand an extra large serving of ice cream.

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Going home

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Well, I have still struggled to find words, so I decided that I would pick a photo and write what comes to mind as I look at it.
This week I visited a woman who had returned from two months overseas.  She had spent most of that time sitting beside her brother as he died.  She had emailed me the night before he died saying that it would not be long now.  I prayed as did other friends from our church that the Lord would be with her as she held his hand and watched and waited.
In the last month I have been to three funerals.  Two for people who had lived long full lives and lived well.  One woman leaves a remarkable legacy. They will miss their daily interactions with her.  Her departing will leave a huge unfillable hole.   The third was for a tiny baby who lived for thirty minutes lying in the arms of his loving and devoted parents.  His was a short life.  But he was loved.  Deeply loved.
I took this photo when I was in Singapore in 2013.  This city is not known for its quiet or stillness or tranquility.  You have to search hard to find these giant lily pads.  They are found in their Botanic Gardens in a giant pond. We came here on a drizzly rainy day, heavy with humidity and I longed to take giant leaps across each lily pad to the largest one and lie outstretched and soak in the coolness, the gentleness and the quiet sounds.  It is a place we have since revisited and sat and stopped.
Listen to the quiet drip drip drip. Hear tiny bird sing songs of joy unfettered.  Look at those water lilies and their vibrant splash of colour.  We sit and stop and start to breathe slowly and deeply.
I have watched dear friends weep as they watched their loved ones die.  Their tears are like the drops of rain that fall upon this pond, sometimes they are visible, but others fall softly, lightly and silently.  And yet, with each death, they have all shared a deep hope that their  loved ones are now in a  better place.  Each of my friends said to me “they have gone home”.
“How lovely is your dwelling place Lord Almighty!”
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”  Psalm 84:1-2
Going home will be even lovelier than sitting on this lily pad.
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When will I have words?

Silence for over six months.  Am I really a blogger?  From my output, it would appear I am not. So then, when I begin to write, where do I start?  What do I say?  I really have no answers to these questions.

I am still reflecting on the words of Psalm 18 that I wrote about in my last blog post and parts of it have become a daily prayer.

“I love you Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” v 1-2.

They are a source of much comfort when facing change and this year I have had plenty.  I have lost a job that I loved, I have started a new job that I love.  I have left a church that I loved and now attend a new church that I love.  Put all the emotions associated with that together into a mixing bowl and start stirring. And then we have had family issues that have given me much heartache.  I have done a lot of weeping.  And yet, I have experienced such joy at the same time and I have had a heart of thankfulness through this entire year.  My life looks a little like a bitter-sweet chocolate cake.  I have learnt to eat and enjoy dark chocolate and have discovered that from bitterness it is possible to extract much delight.

Five years ago I made a quilt for my mother-in-law which has sat on her lap or on back of her chair every day, a bit like a travelling companion.  It went with her to her new room in a nursing home in June as her health has deteriorated significantly.  It has been one of the few things that has made her room homely – so who would steal it?  But it has vanished and she has shed tears.  She has lost the ability to communicate with words.

This week I have made her a new quilt and it carries my tears, my joys and each stitch has carried love for this remarkable woman.  She is a woman who knows that she is loved by God and precious in His sight.  I am hopeful she will enjoy the beauty of its colours – they are her favourite colours and that it brings comfort in her final waiting days.

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Here is her new quilt ready for pinning and hand quilting. I discovered this wonderful radio program as I sewed these pieces together.  It is called “Soul Music” and it is on BBC Radio 4.  Each episode is based on a piece of music and people tell stories from their lives about how this music has influenced and shaped them or acquired a significance and become a part of them.

In the last month I have spent time with a woman  on a journey of understanding grace.  She had listened to the episode on Psalm 23 and been deeply moved.  She told me her story of searching for faith and it included this Psalm.  I gave her the Jesus Storybook Bible which she read from cover to cover in one sitting and for the first time in her life began to comprehend how much she is deeply loved by God and saved by His marvellous grace.  (Incidentally this is being republished with an “adult” friendly title: The story of God’s love for you )

That is enough words for one post. I am tired of waiting for words to come, it may never happen, so I will simply write what comes out.  Who knows, I might yet be a blogger.

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Strong ankles

Thank you to those of you who supported me during Dressember.  Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, I raised over $1500 – all of which will help rescue girls out of sexual slavery and help them recover.  These rescued girls face a new life filled with hope!  Thank you!  I thoroughly enjoyed wearing dresses for a month.  Thanks to my daughter, I had plenty to choose from and enjoyed wearing her dresses so much that they permanently live in my cupboard – if I am not wearing them.

Dresses for Dressember

Dresses for Dressember

Three months have elapsed since I last wrote.  I have not had words to share or even the inclination to put fingers to keyboard.  These months have been full of happenings that have taken up my mental and emotional capacity.  I have had nothing left.  Since my last post, this is roughly what has been happening:

Our son Jonathan got engaged to be married to Shelley and their wedding is in two weeks.  I lost my job – was declared “excess to requirements” and had my last day there on 1 December.  We have had various health issues to address for different family members.  A potential new job has arisen – which has required much thought and prayer.  At times, I have felt that one of those events would be enough to face. That is some of what has been heavy in my heart.  But weddings are exciting and I am excited about this event!

This morning I had one of those amazing moments when “God spoke” to me deeply and personally.  I love walking and I wear one of those wrist devices that counts how far I walk each day.  My goal is 10,000 steps and most days I average more.  To walk, you need strong and well supported ankles.  I have been blessed with slender ankles that regularly complain that I expect far too much of them and the feet they hold and support. With slenderness comes fragility and vulnerability.

Psalm 18 is filled with amazing imagery.  David wrote it in response to his deliverance from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.  I can’t relate to the physical fear of death that David felt, but these last months, I have had moments of mild panic as I have thought about the different things happening in my life.  Yes, I have worried.  Yes, I have not slept.  Yes, my mind has had anxious thoughts swirl and buzz as they have fought for my attention.  One image David uses jumped out at me this morning and made me take notice and read the rest of the Psalm more thoughtfully:

You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not give way. (v 36)

Tired ankles need a rest!

Tired ankles need a rest!

So much depends upon strong ankles.  David says that with the Lord’s help he can scale a wall.  Not with weak ankles!  I don’t think I can scale a wall and have no plans to attempt such a venture, but with the Lord’s help, I can more than cope with what is in my life at this present moment.  David expresses deep confidence in His great God.  He is the creator of this world, He reached down from on high and drew him out of the deep waters, He rescued him, he brought him out into a spacious place:

he rescued me because he delighted in me.  (v 19)

Despite our flaws and failings, we have a God who loves us and hears our cries for help.  He not only hears our cries, but He answers!

I love how David starts this Psalm – he has such confidence in His God and filled with praise:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved…. (v 1-3)

I look at my ankles which remind me of my fragility and vulnerability.  Now they also remind me that in His strength they are made strong and will not give way.  What an amazing God we have!

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Dressember and IJM

As a little girl, I loved wearing dresses.  I had a Mum who was ahead of her time who thought that shorts and tee-shirts were far more practical for a little girl.  I hoped that one day I would have a little girl who I could dress up in pretty dresses.  My daughter had other ideas and hated wearing dresses and between the ages of 7 to 15 wore no dresses at all.

I have to be honest, I still don’t wear dresses very often.  I have a few dresses, but mostly to wear to weddings or special events.  My daughter now has more dresses than anyone else I know and wears them most of the time and looks gorgeous.

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Did you know that there are more slaves today than at any other time in history?  Nearly 30 million people are held as modern-day slaves.  They will be found here in Australia, the US, the Philippines, India, Cambodia…everywhere.  I find this disturbing.  As a Christian I find it unsettling.  Did you know that when little girls are rescued from a brothel, they are often wearing no clothes at all?

I first heard about the International Justice Mission or IJM back in 2006.  They are a Christian human rights organisation.  My husband Keith gave me a cd called Add to the Beauty by Sarah Groves.  She wrote it for the IJM and the song with this title resonated with me profoundly.  It began a journey of facing the confronting reality for so many of the world’s poor – that they face violence and oppression and injustice.

It is IJM’s vision to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible.  As a Christian, I am inspired by God’s call to love all people and seek justice for the oppressed and protect the poor from violence.  Two of my favourite verses are:

“Seek justice, rescue the oppressed.  Plead for the orphan, defend the widow.” Isaiah 1:17 and “What does the Lord require of you? to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.

I would love to see the end of slavery and this will not  happen overnight and will not happen until it is made to stop.  The work of IJM rescues victims, restores survivors, helps bring criminals to justice and strengthens justice systems so they work effectively to protect the poor and vulnerable.  Their work has rescued more than 18,000 from oppression and over 770 convictions.  You might want to watch this clip about the results of their work in Cebu, Philippines.  Truly amazing!

This month, I am participating in Dressember by wearing a dress every day for the month of December to raise money for IJM.  Can I ask you to partner with me?  My goal of raising $500 is not huge, but I do believe that small things can make a difference.  You can support me here.  All money donated will be forwarded to the IJM office in Australia to support their work.  And I get to wear dresses for a whole month!  I will let you know how I get on – especially finding dresses to wear.

 

 

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Talia’s quilt

Talia's quilt

A year ago next week, some very bright lights triggered a massive migraine which hung around like a bad smell for six months.  I had a foggy brain for most of this time which made thinking difficult and writing next to impossible.  Since emerging from this pea soup existence earlier this year, I have struggled to write – hence my silence – until now.

It is not that I don’t want to write, it is just that I feel like I have lost my writing voice and have nothing to say.  That might be true.  However, a big part of me wants to find that voice again, so I am going to start – very slowly and write about small things.  You are welcome to read if you want, but this is really for me – so that I can regain some level of confidence.

In August I finished a quilt for my niece Talia in time for her sixth birthday.  She has been waiting patiently for three years and when you are that age, three years is a very long time. Talia’s favourite colour is pink and her favourite animal is a pig.  This has not changed in the three years since I started making this quilt.  Her Mum Julie had some fabrics put away to use in a quilt which she gave me.  I used lots of other small scraps sitting in my boxes for the other parts of the quilt.

I found this quilt pattern in a gorgeous book called Material Obsession by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke.  “Annie’s Garden” was designed by Sarah Fielke.  To be honest, it was hard to give this quilt away as it gave me such pleasure to construct.

For the last year, Talia has been asking her mother “do you think Auntie Sarah has finished my quilt?”  As you can see, she is thrilled with her new quilt and that made it easy to give as I know it will be loved and treasured.

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The Terrible Suitcase

Many children will be starting school in the new year – a time of anticipation and excitement and a little angst. The summer before my eldest child started school he caught whooping cough which ended all plans of swimming lessons, fun outings and time with friends. I do remember his anticipation of finally going to big school. He was five and a half and more than a little ready.

I remember trying to prepare him for his first day at school and buying him a special lunch box. I told him there would be “play lunch” and then “lunch” and there was special food for each. I remember picking him up after his first day, wishing I could have been a fly on the wall to see what he had done. I remember him telling me that there had not been any “play lunch” time, so he had not eaten the special snack I had put in his lunch box and he had waited all day for the magic “play lunch” moment – which never came. They had had “little lunch” and he had sat watching the other children eat their little lunch, but alas, his lunch box contained no little lunch. I made sure that he had “little lunch” in his box the next day.

He then told me that “he had not learnt to read”, that he had done some playing and that that was all he would say about school. I learnt that there were not many questions he was prepared to answer and that he usually came home tired, a little grumpy and unenthusiastic about any after school plans that did not involve going home.

I am sure that he thought his lunch box was “the terrible lunch box”, I don’t remember. However, I am sure there were moments as he adjusted to the new routines of school that were terribly bad and I wasn’t there to rescue him or make things better. A new book has recently been published about a little girl who is about to start school and it is written by an old friend of mine who I knew when she was a uni student. It is called “The Terrible Suitcase“. It is about a little girl who gets given a “terrible suitcase” for her going-to-school present instead of the red backpack with yellow rockets and a silver zipper. And she was mad. Very mad.

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It is a delightful story about how this little girl goes to school with the suitcase she doesn’t want – no her mother didn’t buy a new one, even after her friend Howard’s Mum bought the exact red backpack that she wanted – ever so desperately. This little girl’s anger leads to some terrible behaviour with consequences from her mother – no custard for dinner, and still the mother does not intervene or try to make things better.

I love this mother. The first day looms and she turns up at school with her terrible suitcase and things don’t improve. By the afternoon, she disappears into the imagination corner, climbs into her cardboard box to feel sorry for herself in peace. I love this little girl’s teacher who tells her she can stay in there “as long as she likes”. This is where the terrible suitcase makes its peace with its new owner and the terrible suitcase becomes terribly magnificent – not only in her eyes, but in the eyes of her friends. The children take part in an imaginary adventure in which the terrible suitcase plays a star role.

This book would make a wonderful “going to school” present for any child about to start school. Starting school is one of the many first steps a child takes to independence and having to navigate the joys and disappointments in life on their own. Parents need to let their children face disappointments and anger and deal with it.

This terrible red suitcase provided this little girl with an object that enabled her imagination and the imaginations of her friends to kick in and provide enjoyment and adventure. The illustrations by Freya Blackwood are delightful. If you are familiar with Maudie Bear, you will recognise her drawings – they capture this little girl and the terrible suitcase perfectly.

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I am so proud of my friend, and a little envious. Not only has she now written an enjoyable book, that has won the CBC Early Childhood Award for 2013, but it is a helpful reminder to all Mums and Dads that our children do not need rescuing from their disappointments or their anger.

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