It was absolutely freezing, but we had a lovely warm fireplace in our chalet, which we looked forward to each evening after our fun-filled (albeit icy cold) days out....
We went with my brother and his family, and my sister-in-law happens to be a great cook. So we enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals each night....
And there was a whole lot of fun to be had! There was swimming (only for the brave kids who didn't mind venturing back out into the freezing cold afterwards)...
Appreciating each other.....
And of course, lots more food appreciating! I brought along a Mango & Coconut Bread, which I baked just before we left. It was a hit, so I'll share the recipe for you to try....
Mango & Coconut Bread
400ml natural or berry-flavoured yoghurt (I use berry)
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
125g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup xylitol (natural sweetener) or castor sugar
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2-3 mangoes, flesh only, mashed (or the equivalent of 3 mangoes from a can)
Grease and line a loaf tin & preheat oven to 140 degrees celsius.
In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt and bicarbonate soda and let stand for 5 minutes.
Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
Stir in melted butter, sugar and eggs. Stir gently and don't over mix.
Add mashed mangoes and coconut and mix. Pour into loaf tin and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours (testing with a skewer, you can bake for longer if required).
It was wonderful to spend a whole week of quality time together, with lots of late nights playing cards, watching movies or just hanging out talking. As is often the case on holidays, the talking involved the use of mainly positive words, in a relaxed and jovial tone. The reason I mention this is because on the Sunday before we left for our holiday, I was reminded at Church of an old saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". The preacher was speaking about the power of words, and the misconception that words cannot hurt.
Being a lover of words from way back, I've always been aware of their amazing power. Both the spoken word and the written word are powerful, but I believe the spoken word is also fraught with danger. At least with the written word, we have time to think about what we are writing. We can delete what we say if it's hurtful or offensive or rude. Not so with the spoken word however.
Once a word is spoken it cannot be erased. If we say something that is not very nice, it's out there. It's been said. We can apologise for it, but we can't actually take it back. That's why I believe it's so important to take a moment to think before we speak. This is something I hope to become really good at as time goes on. I think I've improved with age, but I know I still have a way to go.
There is a Bible verse that speaks about the tongue as follows:
"If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer" James 3:2-10 (The Message Bible).
A pretty sobering thought, huh? That we have the power to build someone up or tear them down with the very words that roll off our tongues.
When I was growing up, my parents used their words so wisely. They rarely raised their voices and I remember even when I was in trouble, they spoke calmly and rationally. I believe the way they spoke to me was instrumental in making me feel loved and self-confident. I've tried to use my parents as role models for the way I should speak to my own kids and in fact, for communicating with others in general. These are some of the key points I've learned to strive towards:
1. Choose my words carefully. As the old saying goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Self control can be a real issue sometimes, but my aim is to be gentle with my words.
2. Watch my tone of voice. I've noticed that my husband and children respond to me so much better when I speak in a pleasant and respectful way. Shouting only causes tension and achieves nothing positive at all. So my aim is to avoid snapping or yelling.
3. Compliment more than I criticise. Nobody likes to be told that they're hopeless or a failure. I believe there is always something positive that you can focus on to encourage a person, and instead of noticing what's wrong about someone, notice something they've done right and compliment them on it.
4. Avoid name calling. Replace nasty words with love names such as "sweetie", or "precious". I love such terms of endearment being directed at me, so I assume that others like it too.
5. Be affectionate with words. Say the words, "I love you", as often as possible to the people you love. They may be three small words, but they may very well be three of the most powerful words that I've ever come across. In my experience, it doesn't matter what words have been thrown around in the heat of an argument, as soon as my husband says those three words...."I love you".... I melt and totally forget what we were even fighting about!!
We all love to hear or read positive words spoken about us. It made my day to find some lovely words written about me by Naomi from Seven Cherubs and Carly from We Heart Life this week. These are two blogs that I love reading because they are always using words that are positive and uplifting.
Recently someone told me that they didn't like my new post-chemo curls! I have to say I was quite taken aback by this comment and felt a little hurt. However, the situation was redeemed by my husband, who quickly responded with, "Well I love your curly hair!" Even though I stated earlier that a negative spoken word cannot be completely erased, it can certainly be silenced by a positive and kind replacement!
I will leave you with some simple words of prayer that I have been encouraged with lately, in the hope that they might be of some encouragement to you too :) ..."Set a guard over my mouth God; keep watch over the door of my lips!" Psalm 141:3