Monday 9 January 2023

Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023

 Happy New Year!

I wanted to share a New Year's thing I did this morning, then share some photos of things I've been up to over the Christmas/New Year break.

So, firstly the thing from this morning.

Today I've been taking my weekly Sabbath, and in the morning I worked through this New Year's Examen.  It's from Lynne Baab, whose work I've often found helpful, and it's one I've done a few times before.  Rather than looking to the year to come and making resolutions, it focuses on the year that's past and encourages to see where God has been present in your life and where you've resisted God, and to take time to process that.

It was really productive and helpful!

As I thought about where I've seen God in the year, and thought about what I was praying for early in 2022 and where those things are at, and also reflected on the Fruit of the Spirit and where I've seen them in others and myself, I realised three things:

  1. a situation that was really bothering me a year ago probably hasn't changed all that much, but I'm more accepting of it and less bothered by it :-)
  2. in the latter part of the year I've been learning to take less responsibility for things that aren't my responsibility - to do what I need to do and then leave them alone, without fretting so much.  I realised this morning that one consequence that has had, is to let the fruit of the Spirit be more present in my life.  I have a tendency to be anxious about things, and to respond to that by trying really hard to control things.  As I've been able to let go of things more, there's been more space to be patient, to be kinder and gentler, to have more peace and to be more generous :-)
  3. I saw again how loved I am.  One thing I really struggle with, with my limited energy, is how rarely I see many people I really care about.  And those people want to see me, too, which can feel a bit stressful and like I'm acting like they don't matter.  I tend to see all that in terms of what I can't have and how hard that is, but sometimes this year I've also seen it differently: it's a consequence of being loved.  Those people want to see me because they love me :-)  Also, when Martin was sick with Covid in the US mid-year and then isolating in our spare room once he got home, I really saw that love.  People came over to celebrate my birthday with me, and it was a good evening even though Martin couldn't be there; people at church prayed for me when I was so tired from all the stress and 'figuring out' and 'doing stuff' that it had all involved, and one gave me a picture she got from God that I think I've finally understood today; and I realised more deeply than I have before that Martin's family have 100% brought me into their family.

And in the Examen of Conscience bit, where it encouraged me to think about where I've resisted God, I suddenly came to understand more why something I've done many times this year is a real issue.  Something where, when I go to do it, I tend to feel a sense of caution like I should stop, but it hasn't felt that wrong so I've often done it anyway.

I'm so grateful for God's working in my life!

And, on to photos!

In the lead-up to Christmas I gathered vast quantities of pohutukawa flowers, spent a bit of time refining my recipe then made nearly 5L of delicious (and gloriously red) pohutukawa cordial :-)

probably my biggest single haul of flowers

the stamens get everywhere when you pick the flowers!

gloriously red yummyness

it makes pretty good gelato, too - just using 1:1 cordial:water

The processing is mostly finished now, although I do have four cups of stamens in the freezer that I'm hoping to use to make a hydrosol (i,e, 'pohutukawa' water - like rose water or orange blossom water), as well as a few cups of dried stamens that I want to see if I can make cordial from.  I tried using the dried stamens as a spice (which I've seen others do on the internet), but the flavour was much too mild to really work, in my opinion.

We had lunch on Christmas Day with my parents.  We'd brought a fairly new person from church with us and they'd brought a long-term friend of theirs - both from Africa, but from different countries.  It turned out they knew each other, which was a lovely surprise :-)

I did simple silver ball decorations on all the Christmas cakes we made this year.  This was the one for Christmas day.

Between Christmas and New Year Martin got out our rarely-used charcoal brazier and made delicious BBQ chicken and BBQ sweetcorn, which we ate with sticky rice.

On December 31st we headed down to Napier (in a car borrowed from my parents) to visit two lots of friends in Hawkes Bay.  We mostly just hung out and chatted, but there's photos from the few outings we did do.

Firstly, with the Woods family we visited Marine Parade and a tiny bit of central Napier.

Looking along the beach from the jetty.  I went to a wedding reception in the building beside the beach there when last I was in Napier - maybe around 1999 or 2000...

Our hosts :-)  So good to spend time with them!

A decidedly odd sculpture in some lovely sunken gardens

we had ice creams in the gardens.  I'm so pleased you can now buy ice creams made with certified child-labour free cocoa at pretty much any dairy in the country (more on that here)

We also went to a local beach one day to lift up rocks and see what creatures were lurking beneath :-)

not quite in focus, but I loved the weathering on the wooden posts - I think they're supports for a former pier/jetty

the rocks at the carpark end were pretty cool, too.

Mid-week we moved to Hastings to visit our friends the Curries.  Again, we mostly just hung out and chatted, but they did take us up Te Mata Peak on our last day.  It had amazingly striking scenery, even though the day was too grey for stunning views.  I think it's all limestone - I found the overall 'look' of the place to be quite unlike anything I'm familiar with.

the tree is a war memorial - grown from seed from the Lone Pine at (I think) Gallipoli

There were quite a few of these birds running around the carpark and trig area - a similar size to sparrows, but with quite different markings.  I think they're NZ pipits/pÄ«hoihoi - a new species for me.

Both lots of friends had swimming pools, which were great in the warm weather.  Here I am trying to work out how deep the 'deep end' was in the Currie's pool - it was well over my head!

And on our last night there, we marked Epiphany (the day when the church remembers the arrival of the Magi to give gifts to baby Jesus) with a traditional French Galette des rois - an almond tart/pie of which I am immensely fond.

we had enough almonds for one and half galettes :-)


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