Servant Queen

 

When I think of Queen Elizabeth II, the descriptive words that come to mind are faithful perseverance. She has stayed the course and continues to run her race doggedly even at ninety. She obviously paces herself well – something to be admired.

Queen Elizabeth II  (Fabulous artistic video)

Such a contrast to Argentina’s Eva Peron from the musical Evita: “The choice was mine and mine completely. I could have any prize that I desired. I could burn with the splendor of the brightest fire, or else – or else, I could choose time. Remember… I was very young then. And a year was forever and a day. So what use could fifty, sixty, seventy be? I saw the lights, and I was on my way. And how I lived. How they shone! But how soon the lights were gone.”

Britain’s longest reigning monarch has lived firmly and prudently. Now, there is word one rarely hears these days. She has lived through so much history and I would like to invite anyone reading this humble blog to share what you may know about her from your sources. Below I shall bullet point some of the interesting facts to me about her life (largely taken from a a newly released tribute titled, The Servant Queen and the King she serves):

  • She was born in 1926
  • She never went to university, but she has been the adviser and confidante to twelve Prime Ministers.
  • She still works over 40 hours a week.
  • She employs 1200 people but feeds her own dogs.
  • She can rebuild the 6-cylinder engine of an Austin K2 Ambulance.
  • She can trek hatless for hours on her Fell pony across the windswept Highland moors.
  • She attends church weekly, even on holidays, and prays daily – when she is in residence at the Sandringham Estate, she often slips in quietly through the side entrance, not wanting to draw attention to herself. 
  • Her trust in Jesus Christ is central to her.
  • She doesn’t have to invite a different church minister every weekend of her Balmoral holiday to spend time with her family, but she does.
  • She has been married to one man for 69 years! Now that is something to be amazed at in this day and age, right?!
  • There are no reliable recorded incidents of the Queen losing her temper, using bad language, or refusing to carry out a duty expected of her. (OK, that is completely humbling!)
  • She was a Girl Guide.
  • She lost her father, King George VI (King’s Speech king) when she was only 26.
  • She had her mother around until she was 76, her mother died at 102.
  • She lost her mother and younger sister the same year.
  • Her husband, Prince Philip gave up all his foreign titles as an heir to the Greek throne to marry her, and his income as a Navy Lieutenant was only £11 a week.( He is a whole other interesting man that perhaps I shall share what I know of on another post.)
  • Before her official public coronation, she was anointed by the Archbishop in a simple white dress in a secret ceremony, committing to serve rather than be served. (She says that that private ceremony was the most solemn and important moment of her entire life.
  • She does not determine policy but she takes her constitutional right and duty to express her views on government matters very seriously – usually through the use of questions. (she obviously has coaching skills)
  • She praises the work of the everyday citizen regularly.
  • She drove the Crown Prince Abdulluh of Saudi Arabia herself around the grounds of Balmoral estate – now there is a strong statement of empowering women! (1998)
  • She keeps most of her thoughts to herself unlike so many celebrities today. For example she met with Margaret Thatcher every week for 11 years, but there is no public account of what she thought of her. Or Tony Blair for that matter.
  • She is almost never late for anything or anyone, regardless of their rank, because she sees lateness as a mark of disrespect. (Humbled again!)
  • She never treats her staff like servants and almost never calls upon them when they are off duty.
  • She receives thousands of letters and cards but she has an amazing memory for detail and tremendous care for individual people.
  • On the day of Princess Diana’s death she and her grieving grandsons went to their local church in Balmoral.
  • One of the rare times she was late was when in 2005, she was visiting Auschwitz for the 60th anniversary of its liberation along with a large group of Holocaust survivors – she stayed and stayed listening to every person’s personal story. Wow!
  • Caring for one’s neighbor is the recurring theme in the Queen’s broadcasts, and apart from the accounts of Jesus’ birth, the passage of the Bible she most often cites is Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • She still rides her horses and values taking time to rest.
  • She highly values family even with all the schedule demands.
  • She has shown herself highly adaptable to changes in technology and culture, growing up before TV, the internet or the jet engine. (Prince Philip has helped her with this.)
  • She was “delighted” to make her film debut in the “Bond”-themed cameo at the opening of the 2012 Olympics.
  • In all her years as Queen, there has never been a whiff of scandal about the Queen herself. Amazing!

She has shown herself a woman of integrity and consistent of character. May the Lord bless and keep her and the Royal Family. May His strength carry her through until He calls her home, for she certainly will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Don’t you think? Here is my favorite picture of her! Perhaps she is part mermaid! I love her all the more!

Happy 90th Birthday, Queen Elizabeth!

 

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Long live the Queen! Living in England now for over six years has enlarged my understanding and appreciation of the Royals, and I have gained a genuine admiration for the Queen. Before living here, I was more of a Princess Diana fan, especially since we were the same age, and both married our “Prince’s” the same year. The news and depiction of the Queen in the past had made her seem cold and unfeeling, but there are always other aspects of people, aren’t there? “There is always something you don’t know” as one of my colleagues quotes often from his dad. There are often layers of life that make people who they are today.  She is a quiet and private person, but her faith seems to shine brighter each year.  I would like to make amends for my premature judgments of the woman who turns 90 today. Long may she reign!

The people wish the Queen Happy Birthday!

Before we explore what I have learned since living here, I would like to share a fun juicy tidbit of my life. When I was 17 I actually saw the Royals at Windsor Park in the flesh. I had been traveling with a choir and band representing America that summer. My dying Daddy’s dream had been for me to experience Europe – this was my ticket. That trip has had a lasting impact on my life, and I marvel that where that trip began, all those years ago, is where I live now. Who would have thought that frisky California boy-crazy girl would end up living in England serving in missions?! (… a self-debasing note, typical of British banter).

Our choir and band’s first landing was London and our hotel wasn’t near the Palace so I was a little shocked at how dirty the area of London was that we stayed in. This didn’t look like Cherry Tree Lane in Mary Poppins? My first real culture shock experience which blew my British fantasies asunder. So when we made our way to the countryside to tour Windsor castle my soul was revived and my love of England rekindled with caution. Four of us singing girls had decided to stay in Windsor after the castle tour because London just seemed dirty and too scary, at least for me – I am more drawn to the country. So as the rest of the touring group filled the buses, we found a cute pub to eat a traditional Plowman’s lunch and were informed by a friendly elderly couple that the Royals were in residence and would be driving through the park at half past one – should we care to see them.

Would this fairy-tale-loving, bursting-with-hormones teen girl want to see Royalty?! Duh!!!! As soon as we gobbled down our fresh pub fair, we set off to the park probably almost at skipping speed! We advisedly positioned ourselves next to the middle of the paved road that went straight through the park. We surely stood out conspicuously as there was hardly anyone in sight. The chapel bells tolled the appointed time. With eager eyes fixed to our left towards the castle gate…the first Royal Rolls appeared. My heart was beating madly with excitement as the line of Royal cars drove slowly towards us… First there was the Queen mother, I recall, then Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and then came Charles and Andrew…would you believe those two Princes rolled down their windows and winked and waved at us?!

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward Credit Anwar Hussein, WireImage

The Royal Princes Charles and Andrew were still unattached in this late-70’s picture

Visions of being a princess living in a castle pranced in my head as you can imagine! We were, as they say here, gobsmacked! I would have loved to have heard the commentary of the Princes as they drove away – wouldn’t you?  Was Charles already wishing he could marry Camilla? Had Andrew even imagined someone like Fergie in his life? She was much more outgoing like us Americans have a reputation here. The British, if you don’t know, value reserve and emotional repression. It is generally a sign of class.  So seeing the British Royal Princes in their respectable parade rolling down the windows and waving and winking to four obviously American girls was such a surprise! So apparently they did have their moments of behaving like the current Prince Harry. LOL!

Now sadly, I along with the world have watched these same princes marry, have children, and divorce and remarry. After Princess Dianna’s tragic ending I have thanked the High King of Heaven that I did not marry an earthly prince…too much pressure. I just watched a documentary of the Queen’s worst year. It was 1992 which included Royal divorces, Royal affairs, Royal privacy breached by the Biography of Princess Di (a very unhealthy woman physically, mentally, and emotionally), and the Windsor fire. Her responses showed the depth of her heart in several speeches given at the end of that notorious year.

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an “Annus Horribilis”. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide uncertainty. (November)

You, my Lord Mayor, and all those whose prayers -fervent, I hope, but not too frequent – have sustained me through all these years, are friends indeed. Prince Philip and I give you all, wherever you may be, our most humble thanks. 

Her simple foundation of faith began young. For example, as World War II loomed in 1939, thirteen year old Elizabeth, handed her father a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins. He quoted it on his King’s speech of that year.

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year

Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”

There is a steady strength in this woman Queen and a solid faith. Perhaps I shall share some more about this Queen over another cup of tea with mama g…watch this space. There will be celebrations going on for months.

So what have been your views on the Queen? Share your comments, please.

 

 

 

 

Kindred spirits – celebrating friendship

There are certain people that resuscitate the soul like oxygen to the dying. Do you have people like that in your life?

The last few weeks have been littered with life-sucking times of drowning  for me – sleepless nights, hives, and frustration-filled losses. So when my dear soul-breather- friend, Michèle, arrived it was like light appearing in a dark damp dungeon.

Within moments of her arrival, there was laughter coming forth from the depths, lightening the atmosphere as she reflectively shared her challenges of driving the rental car on the left side in the dark from the airport. I love how she can giggle at her stresses. We did that often together while serving the missionary community in Germany.

Her creative mind with endless questions and fabulous stories inspires me beyond words. She is a published author whose articulation of words woven in humorous depth and passion draw me in hook, line and sinker, where I am lost in the characters and the events. I love that because we have shared so much of our own life narratives, I can feel the Michèle-moments written into the paragraphs. It makes me feel closer to her somehow. When she has handed me the wrapped pages of her novels before being sent off to publishers, it has been like being at a birth of a baby… precious sacred moments.

IMAG4003It was fun this time to explore and research for the evolving novel she is currently writing. We visited aged castles, ruins, ancient trees, and favorite village churches. We walked around small lakes, along the seafront, and around thatched cottages taking pictures, swapping stories and enjoying teas, coffees, cakes and other assortments of yummy foods. We eagerly discovered historical legends that will feed her plot line. My soul was refilling – I could practically see the tank gaining fuel.

After three full days I had to let her move on… to go forth in her own story. Yes, there were some more additional tears to add to my tear bottle, but they were blessed through our going to the Father together, making them sacred with reminders that kindred hearts are beautiful and rare and to be treasured.

So until next time, my heart is strengthened and I can thank the Good Lord for lending me this beloved friend in whom I delight.

Journeying mercies as you soar within the folds of His wings.

May all who read this find that blessing of kindred spirit friendship – in my experience, they are often not obvious at first, but with prayerful and intentional shepherd guidance and sometimes prodding from students, (Alliushka), your life is forever changed. Mine was and is through this precious gift named Michèle.

Reeser2As a shared postscript… we are missing Mari Ellen, our mutual beloved sister-friend… yearning for the day when we are together again in Paradise… your bubbly laughter will call us and your gentle reminder that it is good to be aware of losses and allow oneself to grieve. Ok, need to grab my tear bottle again…

If you are an MK (missionary’s kid), love them, parent them, or are simply interested to discover her amazing novels, here is Michèle’s site:

http://michelephoenix.com/