When Calls The Heart

I love a cheesy show. I love all the bad things ending with a happy ending and it’s one of my guilty pleasures along with musicals, pride and prejudice and The Godfather films. Last night in North America, the TV programme “When Calls The Heart” aired the season finale. One of the main characters died. I am a geek and love following the stars on Social Media. The abuse and vitriol thrown at these people because of what happened on the show is incredible.

Now I can understand getting sucked into a programme so much that you feel it’s real life – I did it with The West Wing, when Zoe Bartlett was captured. I was expecting BBC News to give an update! That taught me so much.

I have a few shows that have pulled me in  so much that I have the DVD box sets – Friends, The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters and Rizzoli & Isles. But never would I ever think to send a message to the stars, if not to thank them, for what happened on their show.

Last night just proved some things to me, from what I can see and have experienced, we in the Western  World don’t know how to deal with death. we are really good at celebrating life – death not so much. It makes us uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say to someone who is dealing with death and bereavement. I now I have read and written about it before. Were all those people angry because of the show plot or because it means that they have to deal with a sentiment that they don’t like. It makes us uncomfortable and means that we have to face the questions about who we are. It means having the tough and lonely nights and it can mean losing connections with people because they don’t understand or don’t want to be around.

I was taught by my parents that death is not the end and in many ways it’s a celebration. I was never not around it – my parents conducted and officiated lots of funerals. I now can testify that until you are in the midst of a close and personal bereavement – you can’t or wont fully understand it, because it is the end of one part but the beginning of a whole new you.

So, I reckon those people watching the TV last night and seeing the processing of Jack’s death aren’t angry because of him leaving, but are angry because they felt emotions they don’t understand. Me – I will see the episode when it appears on Netflix and I will cry like I do for a cheesy tv show, but I will also grieve the people I miss and love and again I shall embrace that moment of longing.



life goes on

Life goes on……………..
I don’t like the month of JUNE and this year will be ten years since my parents were “promoted to glory” or they passed or died or are no more – yes I am bordering on quoting the whole of the dead parrot scene from Monty Python, but I won’t.
Over the last few weeks I have discovered personally that for me grieving is living. Living with the everyday knowledge that you won’t hear their voices again, has probably been one of the hardest experiences for me. I am grateful for Youtube and a video of my parents doing what they did best – leading a church in worship.
I have cried openly and at surprising moments over the last few weeks as several times, the grief has hit me when I least expected it; although having 2 Mothers Day festivals in 2 months probably didn’t help. I am grateful to those that I have been able to be honest with in my pain. And who all these years later walk the road with me.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, can I say it takes a village to walk and grieve with an individual or family.
Life takes over when the music has faded and comfort is no longer found in numbers.
Life takes over when you need to eat and cook and clean and people expect you to get back to it.
Life takes over the grief when you are invited to a party and don’t feel like going because you might bring the mood down.
Life takes over when you see a family enjoying being together and your dream and wish that you could do that mundane shop again.
Life takes over when people don’t know what to say and you find yourself comforting them.
Life takes over when you don’t want to be nice to anyone anymore or have them be nice to you. Life takes over when you are in the supermarket and everyone is just getting on with life and you want to shout, “ I miss my parents.
Life is unfair. I am grieving and don’t want to be happy.” Life takes over when you have to explain the whole story – again!
Life takes over when even now you pick up the phone to tell your mum or dad about your day and then realise you can’t.
Life takes over when you are in so much pain that you sob as you fall asleep because “your village” have been amazing and you don’t want to burden them anymore.
Life takes over when you put your grief aside to walk the path so well trod with someone in your village.
Life takes over but the grief and the constant sadness never passes, it lessens.
Life takes over the grief and you thank God for that bit of breathing space.
Life goes on even when you don’t want it too and some days you are grateful some days you wish it had stopped at the last laugh, hug or I love you.
Life goes on and the village gets smaller but they are still there and so are you going through life.
You see life goes on……………….and so does the grieving.

All that’s left to say………goodbye

I’ve questioned

I’ve wondered

I’ve cried

I’ve denied

I’ve moved 

I’ve stayed 

I’ve called 

I’ve listened

And yet it’s in the stillness and silence that these days made sense

And yet it’s in the stillness and silence that I find some peace

There are moments of raw grief

There are episodes of emptiness

Maybe one day I’ll understand

Maybe I never will

Maybe I won’t need to understand 

This isn’t only because of you my friend

This is about all those encounters with loss 

The time spent wondering why

The only true response is there is no answer why

And all I am left with is “goodbye”

©Estelle Blake – 19th August 2015 (3rd edit.)

I’m here to share with you some rare And stimulating insight into my cosmic fabulosity…….I’m beautiful!

so during the month of August, I have decided to share something everyday on my Facebook profile to help me and my friends learn something new about the world we live in. Today, I chose to share about beauty.

Bette Midler is one of the singers I play when I want to go to another world and dream and think and relax and there are several songs that make me smile. here are the lyrics of one of those fabulous songs.

This is the Divine Miss M
And I’m here to share with you some rare
And stimulating insight into my cosmic fabulosity.
It’s really very simple. I simply believe with all my heart: ”

I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!
I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!
I’m beautiful, so beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!
I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!

“Go away, little girl,” they used to say.
“Hey, you’re too fat, baby, you can’t play.”
“Hold on, miss thing, what you trying to do?
You know you’re too wack to be in our school. ”

Too wack, too smart, too fast, too fine,
Too loud, too tough, too too divine.
I said you don’t belong. You don’t belong.
Too loud, too big, too much to bear,
Too bold, too brash, too prone to swear.
I heard that song for much too long.

Ain’t this my sun? Ain’t this my moon?
Ain’t this my world to be who I choose?
Ain’t this my song? Ain’t this my movie?
Ain’t this my world? I know I can do it.

I’m not too short, I’m not too tall,
I’m not too big, I’m not too small.
Ooh, don’t lemme start lovin’ myself!
Ooh, don’t lemme start lovin’ myself!
I’m not too white, I’m not too black,
I’m not too this, I’m not too that.
Ooh, don’t lemme start lovin’ myself!
Ooh, don’t lemme start lovin’ myself!

I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!
I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!

I seriously am beautiful but it took me a long time to get to that place of believing this about myself.

Let me start at the beginning. I am loud and I did that to cover up who I was on the inside: insecure and weird and different and bigger than others. I actually didn’t like being the girl who had to wait whilst her friends went into shops to try on clothes. I didn’t enjoy the reality of people not wanting to sit next to me. I never liked being big, but it became a part of my rebellion to a society that suggested beauty was about a Barbie.

A few years ago Mel and Andrea came into my life and along with Kathy, they would begin to call me out about the comments I made about myself in public. Andrea – told me blatantly that I was to stop the self deprecation I used in my church leadership and in presentations. Every day Mel called me beautiful. She would write me notes that always began “to my beautiful Stelly”. Kathy has known me in so many guises that she sees when the stuff is bad.  So you see after being challenged by these fabulous women, I actually began to believe that I was beautiful. I repeated it every day. I took time to see that when I smile, I shine. I am at peace with the body that is in front of me. This doesn’t mean I don’t want t to improve, it means that I love the person that I see every morning in the mirror. It means that I am a beautiful person.

Yesterday a friend posted on facebook that she was surprised because someone had called her a gorgeous lady. She is stunning. She is such a beautiful person but I can remember those moments. Beauty is Beauty. In some cultures, bigger is better. I have received so many marriage proposals from one ethnicity and yet in my own culture my beauty is often questioned.

I have a book on my bookshelf, “I Hear  A Seed Growing” by Edwina Gateley. In this book she writes something that was part of this self-discovery for me.

Only a few people believe themselves beautiful. That saddens me: it is a diminishment of the human potential for grace and excellence. i would like to help people believe in their infinite potential for beauty – otherwise when we all diminish ourselves we diminish God also. I want to call forth the seeds of beauty God has planted in abundance.”

I realized that I was diminishing the God I believe in and the creation He made in me.  It’s not easy to believe in your own beauty. It’s not easy to look at what is in front and like what you see. It’s not easy to see people everyday not believe in who they are. It’s not easy to say “I am beautiful”. I need people to hear the truths that are out there. You are Beautiful or Handsome and the world will believe it if you do. It’s not about the clothes we wear or the shape of our bodies (and I know I need to work on that but that’s a whole other blog!), it’s about the fact that we are created gorgeous – don’t doubt it. Remember to tell someone today and if you don’t hear it said – repeat it to yourself everyday in front of the mirror until you realize that you are actually gorgeous.

remember what Bette Midler as The Divine Miss M said,

And I’m here to share with you some rare
And stimulating insight into my cosmic fabulosity.
It’s really very simple. I simply believe with all my heart: I’m beautiful “

…. and just maybe it wont be a rare and stimulating insight after a while.


Last night, I had the most awful attack of Homesickness. I have no idea where it came from. All I know is that it left me with the sense of loss and pain. I found myself wanting to buy a plane ticket and fly to where? I have no idea where that was supposed to be. I know why but this is not the place to discuss that.

I made the decision to go for a walk today, no matter how hot it was getting and how much the heat would hurt. So, a few weeks ago, I found this Villa in the back streets and so I got off the bus and arrived there.

Hidden Treasure.......
Hidden Treasure…….

it was hot and arriving at 12.30pm in the midday sun was mad, but after walking through the park. I was so pleased I made the effort. It was full of hidden gems and included a cafe; open air theatre; columns (their description of two Obelisks);a science centre; art museum and then this place. I want to know more. I want to discover more, so a visit in Autumn needs to happen.

Has my homesickness passed? More or less – yes? And the walking around Rome after getting on the wrong bus means I had time to process and make a decision about what to do when it happens the next time. How to deal with the elements that brought it on.

I will go back, when the sun is not so strong and enjoy the walk even more.


Memories and Delights:

Yesterday evening I sat and wrote 20 things I miss about being in the UK and with friends/family etc (I will start with that post – already published on FB) ; but after are my 20 things I love about Italy.

I have been enjoying some sweet memories and so I ask my friends who are far from family & friends because of ministry what maybe you miss.
I am going to list a few (without mentioning names) and I guess my mates who know me will get which one is meant to be them.

here goes:

1. Cooking up a great plate of pasta together.
2. singing and harmonising old Salvation Army songs.
3. drinking tea and chatting for hours
4. going to the theatre to see a musical
5. laughter, giggles for no reason at all
6. Wagamama’s
7. sitting in silence with your friend.
8. Girly movies
9. silly games
10. texting & commenting on Strictly
11. Late night Bagel run
12. wandering because you can do that together
13. standing on Waterloo Bridge
14. Sunday Roast (special mention to Andrea Kathy & Nina – who in my opinion make some of the best roast dinners ever)
15. shared memories of random life moments.
16. Dancing…………..with anyone who will.
17. games
18. being with them instead of just Facetime or Skype.
19. Tim Hortons French Vanilla Cappuccino
20. politics and social justice and learning together.
Actually my favourite has to be a late night drive through the streets of London with all these fab people.
so many more could be written but yes these are those i love.
maybe tomorrow I shall do 20 things or so about Italy.
Late entry – bookshop browsing with friends in a chain & Skoobs especially.

here’s the Italy list

1. Pasta in it’s many different forms with it’s many different sauces. In particular Pasta Fagioli. Seriously this stuff is amazing
2. Pizza in particular in Naples with Mozzarella di Bufala.
3. Gelato – why can’t I find coconut gelato in the UK?
4. The Blue Sky, my boss and I were discussing this the other day. It has a special quality here in Italy.
5. Space to just sit and relax during and after a meal. Time to spend and discuss whatever you want? Football, politics……
6. Orange and yellow and pink buildings that are faded and wont be painted for a while because that costs money. Especially on a sunny winters day when the cold bites and the sun catches the colours.
7. Buildings that were trendsetters ahead of their time – like the Colosseum. every sports arena and concert venue is based on this kind of structure
8. Music – the passion that is held for regional music and the classical stuff that unites a region or a nation. (No matter where you are in the world, start singing ‘O Sole Mio’ and people will join in.
9. La Dolce Vita, basically italian life for real.
10. Men who can still look amazing at any age when they dress to leave the house.Most of the men here have a sense of fashion. Mixing colours and styles.
11. Time – there is always time for a coffee, no matter how busy the day is, there is always time to have a coffee with friends.
12. Coffee
13. Family and extended familes.
14. Love and respect for children.
15. Love and respect for the older generation.
16. The Salvation Army in Italy. It may be small numerically but their faith and belief is amazing. They have an understanding of Scripture beyond anything I could imagine.
17. Open Homes: I have experienced this in ways I could never have imagined. I am welcomed into families and extended families as a member of the family.
18. Fun – the love and joy of being together. Watching and observing some of my friends in family life always cheers me.
19. National Self Belief – even when things are bad, there is a pride in being Italian.
20. Well it has to be the snow capped mountain ranges and the sea and the plains and the rolling hills in Tuscany and the Olive Oil and the Salami and the bread……

you see my list could go on for ever but I will leave it here. Have you ever been to Italy? What did you love?


Letter to my 15 year old self

Letter to my 15 year old self.

Dear Me aged 15

Life is strange and here I am writing to you. What can I tell you that will make the next few years go smoothly!

Mum & Dad are amazing people. Stop arguing with them, mum especially. They are amazing people who care so much about you and in a few years time when they push you to grow in the areas of your life that you don’t care about now, trust them. You and dad will never agree on politics (or dancing in church) so don’t bother.
You and mum will agree to disagree and she will care for you and love you and you need to make sure you laugh more with her because that is what you are going to miss the most, I say that but then asking her to make certain recipes would also be really useful.
On the other hand, make the most of the family time you have because you remember all those second hand Italian language books, well you are going to need them pretty soon. Man that is going to be one big adventure and you will learn a language even if you don’t think you can.
In a few years time, you are going to become a Salvation Army officer and you will make friends with some pretty amazing people in those 2 years. You will meet people that will become your support link and your best friends and your party friends and there will be tears but also laughter.
I suppose you already have worked out that the important things in life are faith and family and friends and justice.
Faith will keep you going when you feel like nothing else will. When you feel depressed to the point of not wanting to get out of bed, that is what is going to get you up and then to take you to a place of healing. A place where you will learn that the Joy of the Lord is your strength and healing and capable to change life.
Friends are going to become brothers and sisters to you. You will get hurt but you will also learn to forgive and more importantly be forgiven because you will be needy (well most teenagers are!). You are going to meet some people who will change your life and the way you look at life. I won’t mention all of them here but keep an eye for a particular Salvation Army officer from Holland. A meeting with her will transform you in ways that will make sense later.
You will travel to places you never dreamed and you will learn to overcome prejudices and realize that you have something to say to the world. Mum will tell you this a lot.
There is going to be a rotten moment with our parents dying and you will hate the moments when it happens but you will discover the reality of the love people had for them and the love they had for you. You are going to struggle to find your identity. You are going to ask lots of questions but the answers will come. Store up as many stories as you can right now because when the darkness of grief comes over you, then these stories will be the light in your heart. In those dark moments, you will feel prayed for and loved beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t panic – it’s okay.

And finally, You are going to realize that you are different and weird and don’t fit in. That’s actually a cool thing. No-one says you have to fit in. It’s completely okay to wear some of the crazy clothes you are going to love and especially the glow in the dark earrings that dad will hate. Others will love the fact that you enjoy being yourself and give them the chance to be themselves. With this is going to come a responsibility to the youth you will meet, most of whom are fighting a battle along the way. Some days they will annoy you and others you will love them being around you.

So I could tell you so much more but I reckon that would ruin life.
Take Care of me.