It's been a while since I posted, and not because of my usual slackness. First I was busy and then I was without a computer for a little while, and if you don't mind large blocks of text without little pictures for interest, just-let-me-tell-you-what-I've-been-doing!
On the 29th December, I was privileged to attend the funeral of an elderly lady who made the world brighter by being in it. She was the grandmother of some of my nieces and nephews (hello to you all!) and therefore was related to me by marriage. She had a long and full life, she was accomplished at many things that made a home (and a farm) a wonderful place to be, and she made us the best jolly wedding cake that we've ever had. Even if Mr de Elba and I had had more than one wedding cake, hers would still have been the best. She was so genuine and loving, and the love of God shone from her. We took Buzz with us to the service celebrating her life, and we had many good chats involving searching questions from Buzz and honest answers from us.
On the 30th, I was privileged to attend a very different funeral. It was a service for a young guy at our church who died at the age of 19 from bone cancer. Although Mr de E and I had only met him a few times between us, he had been in our church's prayer list all year, and so we had prayed for him many times. He was vibrant, exciting, outrageous, brave, honest, and he too lived life to the full. People said at the service that whenever he was asked about his cancer, he would say, "It is what it is." Such strength and faith. He too loved God and had a strong conviction that when his time on earth was over, he would run with the angels. We sniffled through the entire service and this time, because of the circumstances, we were glad that we didn't take the children with us.
The youth pastor spoke about Job's declaration that it was more blessed to mourn that to celebrate, and explained that there were lessons to be learned at funerals that you cannot learn anywhere else. When I realised that watching people struggle with illnesses like this has made me long for a time where there is no more illness, pain or death, I saw that he was right.
Immediately after that we left on a beach holiday which we'd postponed so we could attend the second funeral. Initially it was a bit strange, straight after attending that service. But the emotional clouds parted as we took off.
We stayed in a wonderful house of a friend who was away on a camping holiday. We had 4 bedrooms, a media room, kitchen, laundry, outside area with pool table and bbq, and it's close to the beach and shops. We have fallen out of the habit of taking holidays over recent years because of the
- wet swimmers
- heat and humidity
- bother finding shops and organising meals
- hassle regarding children sleeping/not sleeping
- and did I mention the sand? Oh, I don't like sand on the floor, sand in the bed, sand in the swimmers, sand in the towels, sand in the car. I really don't.
I had forgotten how much I love this.
Taking time out, going away, saving a little money to spend on eating out, meeting up with friends at the beach by surprise, swimming, drying off and swimming again, and doing the Australian-family-at-the-beach-in-January Thing.
This includes one of my all-time favourite pastimes: bodysurfing. Bodysurfing, not only because it's fun, but also because with 3 children, a beach tent and mountains of heavy bags full of wet sandy towels, it's too much bother to bring a board. Today I had the opportunity to ride in some great waves. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that, too. Waiting in crystal-clear water until the perfect breaker comes along, pushing off and swimming fast, crashing down from the cusp of the wave onto the the calmer, flatter water below as the wave breaks, feeling the strength of the water behind me as I blow as much air out of my nose as I can without passing out in order to keep the frothy water out, finally to feel the sand underneath me as I wash up onto the beach. This is one of my pure-bliss moments.
I could handle this for one week every year. I could even handle the trudging through hot sand, carrying complaining children and heavy bags of wet towels, the uncomfortable wet sandy swimmers and the pants full of sand and crushed shells after a particularly good wave. Oh yes, I could handle this!