Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Weather Untitled.

Today, from this South-West corner of England, just minutes from where water meets earth, the sky is a murky kind of white.

January brought us a muddle of weather - from terrifyingly torrential rain that gave our corner of the globe more than it's fair share of a strip wash, leaving devastation behind it; ruining homes, passing out the 'flu, and literally pouring a bucket of freezing water over everybody's once-happy heads - to brilliant, beautifully clean snow, that covered little England like a soft blanket; hiding the neglected lawns of the biting winter season, and anything else that desired to be hidden away for a short time.

February has been a little kinder, but the chilly wind is still biting at innocent noses; the grey sky still casting shadows over any hope of blooming spring.

From where I am, the world does not look fresh, or inviting, or appealing, or any kind of happy. My trips out consist of huddled and hasty walks to the Doctor's Surgery, anxious and rushed whizzes around the Supermarket, and the occasional relaxing browse around a beautiful home-ware or baby store that provide a cozy moments' rest from the racing world outside, allowing me to plan and dream for just a minute.

It's no lie; England looks drab right now, and it could sorely do with a bit of a pick-me-up.

I feel as though my sweet, green country is aching a little right now, not unlike me.

Why is it, that in books and stories and poems, so many authors reflect their character's moods in the weather of their surroundings?

Because nobody ever feels rubbish on a Sunny Day.

Even if the cold wind outside is nibbling at the chubbiest of cheeks, the sun brings smiles; it's a fact.

The day I have birth to my little Seth, I remember peeping through a gap in the blinds from my bed in the Labour & Delivery suite, and seeing a brilliant azure sky, lined with the most beautifully fluffy clouds I had ever seen. It was one of the hardest days I have ever had to live, and ever hope to have to live, but I remember turning to Pete and saying "It's sunny outside today", and letting slip the smallest wincing smile. For I knew, that if the sun could shine in the sky on even the darkest day of my life, there was hope.

For me, the sun shining that day was a miracle; the sunshine that blessed British Mother's Day kept me going for the next few weeks. It was a reminder from somewhere a lot higher than just me, that hope is not lost, even if it's not there inside you right then.

And even though the sky is that terrible murky white that groans the warning of cold rain, brash winds, and longer days of grey, there is hope inside me right now. The sun will shine again. England hasn't lost hope in itself, and nor have I in it. It's been so dull for so long now, it has to brighten up soon - and I'm not just talking about the weather.

There's an empty space inside
Where your heart used to fit
Right inside of Mine. 

Grey days are long and make me
Miss your presence right here, and
Fill the spaces that you left behind

In March. When the sun shone, and
Carried me through the rain outside
And the rain in that space that you left. 

We're at Eleven now, not long 'til 
Twelve; which seems so big. 
Three fours, two sixes; ages you'll never reach,

Just years that will go by with me 
Just longing for the Sun to 
Just fill that space and make me smile for good. 

But Sun, you won't come back for now;
I must come to you, a long time and space from 
Where I am and you are. 

A Year is short, but so, so long. What's in a year?
Four seasons, one Christmas, 
Many births, some deaths...

And you next. Your year is almost here. 
A place I thought I'd never reach
Without you close, near. 

I'll keep counting, bright, beautiful Sun,
Every minute, day, week, season
And yes, year, until counting won't matter

And we'll be together.  

Friday, 15 February 2013

Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help' - Book of the Month! - February

**New Feature Alert!**

Those of you who know me a little better (off of the blog) will know I LOVE to read. But I don't often get the chance to. But every now and again I find a book that I just cannot put down, and just want to share with the whole wide world! So I'm starting my very first proper feature here on the Blog - eek! - entitled "Book of the Month!" In these posts I will share with my readers the best book that I have read that month. Genres will vary from romance to thriller to philosophical to religious, so hopefully I will manage to cover something that you love at some point. 

In these Book of the Month posts I won't be sharing any part of the main plot. I may from time-to-time spill little bits if totally necessary, but only to warn others of either emotionally, physically or any other kinds of intense sections of the book that may be difficult to read for whatever reason.

I aim for these mini book reviews to inform, reflect and inspire. I believe there is something to be taken away and applied to life from every good book, and I wish to let the world know the things that I have learnt from every great book I've read.

So for this fabulous loved-up month of February, the book of the month is Kathryn Stockett's The Help. 

I watched the recent film based on this book last year, and I was truly inspired - it must be one of my favourite movies. I shared this with a couple of good friends a few weeks back, and one of them turned to me and cried "But oh, have you read the book?! You must! It's wonderful!" She placed it in my hands and I willingly took it. From my previous knowledge of Movies made from Books, if the movie is good, the book must be brilliant. And if the movie took your breath away, then you'll stop breathing completely the moment you pick this book up.

If you have seen the film - read the book! 

If you haven't seen the film - read the book! 

Oh. Wow.

The book is set in Mississippi in the 1960's, an age of drastic segregation between the races. It follows three narrators, who take it in turns to tell the story over a course of a few short years; a young ambitious white girl, fresh from College with drive to take her journalism dreams to New York City, a middle-aged black woman who is raising her 17th white baby as a maid, and a sassy black help-by-day, mother-by-night, trying to deal with an abusive husband, with cooking skills you know you'll never have.

The contrast between the three narrators creates an incredible flow through the book, and it's so exciting to be able to jump from one to the next to the next every two chapters - it's a great tool for creating suspense and makes for a great sat-up-straight-in-your-armchair kind of read.

Being set in the Deep South of the U. S. of A., the author has cleverly written each character with an idiolect that automatically creates three incredible southern accents that you can only dream of saying so genuinely out loud, which really brings every sentence to life, even for a self-confessed grammar-nut such as myself.

There is some little use of bad language throughout book, but it goes next to unnoticed as it merely adds to the genuine feel of the text, and the words used would hardly make you wince.

Now there were two parts in this book that could be described a disturbing, both narrated by our sass-mouthed Minny.

The first occurs in Chapter 18, where **SPOILER ALERT** the white lady that she works for, Miss Celia, suffers a miscarriage. It may just be due to my personal experience having lost a little one, but for me this was extremely difficult to read. Due to the fact that this part of the book is written from Minny's perspective, the scene is described through Minny's thoughts and immediate reactions, thus making the overall feel of the text very, very personal, and the descriptions are really quite shocking. We all understand the word "miscarriage", and what it may entail, but witnessing such a thing first-hand (as it's written in the book, and then we as the reader are subject to imagine) is extremely different. **SPOILER ALERT**

The second occurs in Chapter 24. Now, I was warned about this when I was handed the book by my friend, and so as soon as I read Miss Celia's words **SPOILER ALERT** "We've got to call the police, Minny" and then just the couple of lines that follow, I knew I just had to start skimming. And when even just skimming through to get the jist of what was happening I found myself wincing and turning the pages very quickly to try and hide the awful scene from my mind. For the purpose of the review, I will just explain that it involves an extremely crazy man on a very hot day, and quite a bit of violence, and that's about all I got. And to be frank, I think I got a little too much for my own personal taste. I don't however believe that this section is completely unnecessary. Skipping over just a couple of pages is all that is necessary, and it's in the part following the vulgar man that is of importance to the storyline, where we are able to feel a development in the relationship between lady and her maid. **SPOILER ALERT**

The book as a whole focuses on a crucial part of world and personal history; the realisation that people are just people, and we are plainly all the same. Themes of love, hate, labour, frustration, relationships, peace, racism, education, motherhood, friendship, truth and trust are all prevalent within the plot of this incredibly well-written story, and light is shed on a personal level countless times throughout the book. I know that I personally have been enlightened to many things I did not know or realise before, not only about American history, and the class system, but also about my relationships with people that I meet on a day-to-day basis and the respect that I have for others.

The book is truly inspiring and touchingly beautiful. Being an emotional person, I cried so many times, not just out of sympathy or even empathy, but out of laughter, love, and most of all appreciation.

There is one thing that I will take away from this book that I think sums it all up. Made doubly famous as a heart-wrenching line in the movie, my chest tightened and my heart swelled when lovely, little Mae Mobley repeats these words in the very last chapter;

{This is definitely getting a frame and being put up in my Little Sweetie's room!}

You know a good book when you really don't know what to do with yourself once you've reached the very last page. I finished the book this morning, and I was lost for almost an hour, not knowing quite what to do next.

Kathryn Stockett (the author) is incredible at making you feel a real part of the story, and is just an inspiration to me, especially including a small recollection of memories of her own maid as part of the Epilogue and Acknowledgements. She's managed to pull upon something she remembers, and bring it to life in a fictional tale that you wish was totally real. Just brilliant.

Anything that can be hilarious, disgraceful and inspiring all at once is worth a read, and I truly recommend it to anyone. As soon as I give this book back to Emily, I am most definitely ordering a copy of my very own - it's that good! 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

One for the Weekend - Being the Answer.

Over the passed few weeks there is a particular principle that has come to my mind so often that I would like to share with my readers.

When we think, teach and learn of prayer, we often think of the act of praying; getting down on our knees and conversing with the Lord. But during a Sunday School lesson recently something came to light in my mind.

We were studying a passage in Alma 34: 17-27 in the Book of Mormon.It is a famous passage concerned with how we pray, and what we should pray about. In these beautiful verses it is expressed that we should pray unto the Lord in all that we do, and wherever we may be.

There is always much discussion about these verses; the use of the word "cry"(v.18, 20-25), and the phrase "pour out your souls"v.26)( to describe prayer, showing how we should often pray; with such emotion and sincerity of heart. Also, how many things we are taught that we should pray about, showing that the Lord cares about every little thing. As well concerning where we should pray; "in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness"(v.26); this metaphor portraying how personally we should pray, how the Lord cares about our emotional well-being, our fears, worries and doubts, hopes and dreams; all of our heart's secret desires - whether we be lost or found at that time - the Lord wants to hear from us.

It cannot be doubted that this is a beautiful passage of scripture, that teaches us so much about prayer, and also about the Lord and how he feels for every single one of us. I have studied it many times and find something new and inspiring about prayer it time my scriptures fall on the heavily marked and annotated passage.

But over the passed few weeks, it is not verses 17 - 27 that have been moving around my mind, but verse 28. I initially read the previous verses whilst pondering my relationship with the Lord concerning prayer, but this particularly Sunday, we carried on to read the following verse also, which says;

"A now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need--I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith."

I thought for just a small minute to myself "why would the Lord put these two verses right next to each other? Particularly, a verse about the importance of service and charity following so many verses about sincere prayer? Why would our prayers be in vain if we did not proceed to serve? What is the link here?"

And the response came loud and clear, straight to my mind and my heart; Be the Answer. 

Now, many may have made this link before, I had not, and for me it was a moment of realization followed by a wonderful peace and calm that entered my heart. I have to be the answer. 

When we pray, we often ask the Lord for help; something we may need physically or emotionally. With physical needs in particular it is not very often that the Lord can come down and help us mend the broken fence, or feed our children when our husband is away and we are sick. And emotionally, the Lord answers our prayers but by sending us the calming presence of the Holy Spirit. This feeling is often triggered by something that someone says; whether it is a Leader of the Church in General Conference, or a fellow member of our ward in Sunday School.

It is the service, charity, love and testimony of ourselves and others that answers prayers. 

When we pray to the Lord for something that we are in need of, whether it be for our physical or emotional welfare, we must say "Amen", get up off of our knees, and go to serve our families, friends, and those who are in need of an answer to their own prayer. For how many times have individuals who are in tune with the Spirit of the Lord come to help us on our way, and been the answer to our prayer in our time of need?

The Gospel of Christ is not a selfish one, it is a serving one. 

So this weekend, when I kneel to pray and ask the Lord for anything at all, I will also ask him to show me a way to be an answer to somebody else's request. For the last thing I want, or need at this time, is for my prayer to be vain.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Brownies, Baby and a Great Video.

So, I decided just before New Year that I would blog more often. I committed myself to try and blog four days out of five in the week, and also on weekends if I felt like it. So far, since the start of 2013 I have manged to blog once every two weeks. Pants. Ah well.

Today I was hoping to blog a couple of super amazing recipes that I tried recently, but it seems as though my husband has run away with my phone lead which means no pictures - and what fun is a recipe with no pictures of it!? So I will have to save that for another day...

I am currently baking chocolate brownies (or attempting to anyway), and Little Sweetie is bouncing up and down and all around inside my belly; the smell filling my nostrils along with the feel of pops and kicks and nudges inside - just absolute bliss.

Peter and I came across this video the other day, and I just absolutely had to share it here on the blog;

This just tugged right at my heart strings. Pete and I just cried. What an incredible Young Man, with such an awe-inspiring story of strength, testimony and pure love. Just amazing.

We talked about this Young Man and all that he's been through, and we were both just filled with a feeling of calm and peace; the Spirit.

Conversations with Pete like that one, just make me ever more grateful to be married to my best friend.