Beauty and Bravery – Time to Take Flight!

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.
John Keats

It has been almost 35 years since I sat on my bottom bunk bed with my older brother and ‘asked Jesus into my heart’; it was probably 11 years later that I realised deeply and personally what that really meant. And I did mean it. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Not a day had gone by when I hadn’t heard of the greatness of God, seen the reality of it in my parents simple but beautiful life and heard them singing of His praises. How could I not hunger for that life and love and passion?

So here I am, almost 40 years old and the hunger is deep, some days ravenous, to connect and engage with the sound and activity of heaven; to extend His kingdom here on earth and to navigate and activate an unquenchable longing to disciple and lead others into His love.

Just this morning I was discussing with my children the need to tell others about Jesus; my 6 year old declared “how will people know if we don’t tell them?”, and he’s right – that’s why we named him Micah Hudson; after Hudson Taylor, a man of mission, vision and passion to reach the world for Jesus!

And then we read Psalm 19…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

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How incredible that God’s design is one of revelation and declaration through the beauty and wonder of His creation. And we are coworkers with His handiwork. The rhythm and seasons of this luscious land He placed us in work in harmony with the woven intricacies of our  senses. We can see, hear, taste, feel and breathe deeply of our creators proclamation!

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Then we, His people, also reflect the Masters brushstrokes, despite our brokenness; we reveal the Potters shape, form and hand moulded curves, despite our cracks and delicate creases. And it’s not always how we first appear but it’s what we reveal that speaks of the ‘work of His hands’. Just as a resting butterfly with closed wings can seem so plain, dull and dark –  just as you’ve almost passed it by, camouflaged by its surroundings, it takes flight; colour and shape and pattern flash before your eyes as this creature reveals  beauty in flight.

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.

Matt 17:16

There’s a time when hunger, passion and life must take flight to reveal beauty. It’s time to use our voice to reveal and declare the faithful and satisfying love of the Father. There’s a time to lay aside what could be and might be and what they think  I might be, there’s a time to be finally free. There are those who are sitting, and resting. There are those who are brave enough to take flight.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:40

I’m ready to fly

Cautious Bravery – A Reflection On Introversion

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With glistening skin and sandy toes we’re slowly emerging out of our camp cocoon into the reality of laundry and the glaring need to valet the car!

Watching my children by the water was revealing for me and forming for them; from extreme caution to fearless bravery they all approached the same ‘task’ in such different ways.

Hoping that their appetites might be the homing call for dinner I lovingly prepared spelt bread (made at home), slow cooked lemon and herb chicken (yes, even on a camp site) and salad; but instead I had to send out a search party for my eldest two children which unsurprisingly led me to the water where they were so immersed in fun and community that they barely heard their stomachs rumbling. I watched them run and jump repeatedly off the jetty, high into the sky and come down with a jubilant splash!

As I walked my youngest two to the waterfront, one with little hand tucked into mine, the other child running ahead; even their clothes spoke of their glaring differences. One in full swimming attire, fully intending to dive right in – the other still in shorts and t-shirt with swim shorts in hand ‘just in case’! They were both cautious of the cold water, dipping toes and running back to base. One face lit up and let out squeals of delight, the other pondered, straight faced, considering the cost.

After a delicate process of entry one wannabe water baby lay fully in the shallow water, head safely above chin level and shouted ‘I’m swimming mama’; and with every subsequent ‘dip’ said child took less and less time to get brave on the descent.

And my cautious child went waist deep after much cajoling and he finally smiled; we cheered and whooped and high fived him on his exit. He grinned all the way home.

 …and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep.

Ezekiel 47

I was starkly aware of my own personality peering at me with mocking eyes; not the diving and repeating but the caution and the toe dipping.

I was the shy, compliant child; desperate to please, then I was the quietly adventurous traveller walking this lonely planet; scaling the streets of New York city with new found plane friends but loving the alone.  Then I was the mum at the theme park holding the coats and the baby five year old. And then there are the times when I don’t want to answer the phone or go to that party; I can talk to hundreds but struggle with the one. I like books and stillness; they bring fullness to my struggling fuel tank. Apparently I ‘push the red‘ and my seeming extrovert self is dead.

You see introversion can walk the path of shyness and ‘the quiet one’ but passion and creativity push through that wanten personality and we become who we are with that familiar recharge of still and silent and quiet.

“It’s not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them;” ― Pico Iyer, The Virtue of Stillness

I have this friend; she’s the run around the park with the kids, dragging shore line introverts into the water, stay late around the campfire, join in the water fight, include everyone party mum and I love her. I love her for many reasons but one big reason, between you and I, is that I want to be more like her. We so often admire qualities in people because we see them in ourselves. In my case I see the possibility of those traits in myself. I have to make those possibilities a reality, it’s my choice.

So where I used to dip my toes reluctantly into the braver aspects of life, I’ve been around long enough to know that you eventually acclimatise to the cold water and it becomes fun, and easier – and then you can go a bit deeper.

And it’s in the depths that I want to live; learning to swim freely through the open waters of God’s love, freedom and opportunity.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7

So next time you see me trying something new and I’m not smiling (yet); give this introvert a minute or two, keep cheering me on; I’ll get there eventually and make sure you high-five me on the way out.

(And then leave me alone for a while…)

Smile.

The Swallows (A poem)

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Felix Bracquemond, The Swallows, c. 1881

And with the swoop of the swallows
I know the season has changed
The return of the familiar
The comfort and the soul smile

And they race and chase
Dipping low in a circular motion
Embracing the air
Like a lasso above my head

And when children are sleeping
I sit in the quiet of the day
As the evening sun dips into the lows
I await their fading, moving sound in the skies

And I lean in
Like an old friend on the telephone
“I recognise that voice”
This turning of a new season gives me no choice

By Leah Boden

When you don’t know what to pray

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Never before has there been a time when we have been subject to so much visual stimuli. We’re not wired to process these harsh images that our eyes scan and soak daily. Words and pictures of other people’s lives and worlds that we can choose to switch on and off to as we so please. And then there comes an earthquake, rioting and beheadings dotted like pins on a map and I can’t.not.notice. I can’t not stop and pay attention to my reaction. My heart aches and yearns to know why and who and what can I do.

And as mothers, daughters and sisters live through the onslaught there are those who report and those who resort to public comments and payments and prayers.

People say they’re thankful that they live here and not there. Some call this ‘blessed’. I’m sure that’s a matter of perspective; such an overused word that I find hard to hear in these times. An Iraqi woman on the run finding bread for her hungry babes is blessed. A Nepalese mother amongst the desolate destruction still feeling the breath of her daughter against her cheek is blessed. As as those who cling to God.

And where they saw rhododendrons they now see rubble and reality has taken a sharp corner as life adjusts with a blink of an eye in a treacherous storm.

When Father Greg Boyle gets asked ‘what can I do’ in reference to his incredible ministry with gang members in LA his answer is ‘kinship’. Find commonality amongst the people, bridge the divide between ‘them and us’. I thought about this today as I considered other mothers of 4 in these pin point lands struggling to see another day through. I can’t reach in with my arms or pots of tea, I can’t hold their children and wash their clothes but I can reach out with my prayers; and even though I’m grasping for words and truth and hope I know my prayers will availeth much. The enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy our seemingly small efforts but we can move mountains today.

Mary Oliver said that real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first. I think both flow and bind together but today I am paying attention. I’m deciding to not just merely be thankful that it’s not me but I’m standing in the place of those who have no voice today.

So I quiet my questions, turn my heart and bend my knee and pray for those like me.

Father God; even though so much has changed, you never change. You are faithful and good and kind. Bring streams of peace in these deserts of despair, help my sisters breathe through their grief and see you. Be the lifter of their heads; bring direction, wisdom and words in many shapes and forms. Bring relief, sleep and deep love. Bring help, clothes, nappies and food. Bring medical supplies, may babies in utero live to hear the stories of freedom and survival and may breastfeeding mothers continue to nourish their babes. Lord may those who have travelled to help not grow weary in doing good, may they see Jesus through the fog of need and hurt.

Help me pay attention Lord. For you alone deserve the glory.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven

Psalm 107:28-30

Bittersweet

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I’m taking that piece of 85% decadent dark chocolate full of flavonols and flavour and I’m biting down hard because it’s good and full and rich – and a little bit bitter.

This morning I woke up to a 6 year old using my butt as a pillow, an almost 4 year old with freakishly long legs casually strewn across our king size bed like she owned it and a dog nudging my arm with his wet nose to get my attention – and somewhere through this repeated reprize of yesterday was my husband, inching his way out of the bed in an attempt to start his day.

But it’s not like I ask for the uncomfortable holding on to the edge of the bed kind of nights but I don’t fight them. And this post isn’t about my organic parenting style, I think it’s about love and leadership and the sacrificial matrix of mayhem and melody that we, that I live in – in abundance!

The ‘familiar’ taste of bittersweet in our wide open mouths continues to take us by surprise as we navigate holding that longed for child as they cry sleepless for the 4th night in a row; we clutch our caffeine laden cup and offer thanks through tired eyes, or the prayed for on knelt knees growing church gathering of broken, laid out lives that require our time and leading and laid down life again and again.

Dickens describes a period like this as being “the best of times and the worst of times”; that polarised place of passion and pain, beauty and blackouts, an epoch of the ever present elation and ache. And I’m not being ‘cup half full’; may it never be! I’m taking that piece of 85% decadent dark chocolate full of flavonols and flavour and I’m biting down hard because it’s good and full and rich – and a little bit bitter.

This parenting, this people leading, this leaning-in requires all of me being all present in the process. I’m ‘all in’ despite the achy muscles the morning after, the pounding heart after helping someone make a fresh-start; the sacrifice of time and home and neat and ever sweet is wrapped in arms of fully loving, embracing and chasing what He fully meant when He said ‘and life in abundance’.

Hannah walked the long road to the Temple clutching Samuels hand; sweating, heart racing, doubting but in knowing readiness to release him into the fulness and promises of God; the parting song of her heart was “my heart rejoices in the Lord…”. As Mary received the news of God’s choosing; she considered what she was ‘losing’ and declared ‘be it unto me as you have said’, and Jesus, in the garden – voiced without pardon “not my will but yours be done”.

And this is our life; we don’t ask for the clutching onto the edge hard stuff – but we don’t fight it. We step fully inside, we walk the path, we consider and breath deeply, we give thanks and allow God’s ‘higher ways’ and our sweat and tears to shape and form who we fully are. His.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – Matthew 6:21

 

 

The Sunday Struggle

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Roughly calculated I reckon I’ve been in around 1,872 Sunday morning church meetings in my lifetime! Different experiences, all unique, imperfect and incredible. From living rooms in Coventry to lavish orthodox gatherings in Athenian buildings, I’ve met with my Father, been loved on, welcomed and caught another glimmer of the many faceted God through each unique pocket of people.

I believe in the gathering of God’s people; whether large or small, coffee shop or school hall, community is important. There’s something so real, so vibrant, so holy when we embrace the potential of God’s company of lovers lavishing praise, honour and affection upon Him, together.

This passion for the Church has grown in me, been nurtured and drawn out of me by those near and far. This ‘I.can.not.keep.silent.’ cry from my heart lingers in the air through each season of my life, and it looks different year to year. Forming, changing and emerging like the magnificent monarch leaving its cocoon.

And this passion wasn’t left in the delivery room when God brought my children into His world. The call and ‘spoken out’ adventure over my life didn’t expel like a final breath as Dave cut the umbilical cord separating each of our four children from their 9 month life source. If anything it became greater.

So I’m calling out to every Sunday morning mother who’s thought ‘why do I bother coming?’

I need you to see the worth and the power in connection; whether finger tips touching or group hugging affection. Life source to power force we’re ultimately entwined; spirit binding, commonality finding, to you I am assigned.

I know that Sunday after Sunday is an epic tale of ‘get up and out’ and success is marked by your children wearing matching socks. You get home and realise you didn’t speak to one person, your three year old was hanging from your leg and getting tangled up in your stretchy wrap encasing the baby who has been feeding constantly since 10.30am. Missing naps and endless snacks mark your day of rest but mama I know you’re doing your best.

I know how ‘worship’ can be an endless cacophony of  ‘shhhh’s’ and rushes to the nearest convenient spot to place the potty because life doesn’t stop on a Sunday. As you lift your arm to ‘surrender all’ you’re hit by a crayon and the loose lidded sippy cup takes another fall.

And I also see your little one snuggle in close as you sing and sway, arms aching – heart swelling. I see you pull in your distracted eight year old and ruffle his hair as he mumbles the words from the screen. I see your tears as God reaches into the depths of your longing soul and continues to make you whole.

I need you to know that motherhood shapes a generation, it breathes life into our changing culture and form beyond this local congregation.This is not just a passing season and a quest to stay alive; this is our day and our moment to thrive.

I want to shout loud like a cheerleader declaring victory, ‘you’re doing amazing’. I need to tell you it’s all ok and we’re all walking this together; the stress, the mess and this seeming test; you’re not alone. I want to look into your face and tell you we need you. The Church needs your ache, your tired eyes, your listening heart, your warm smile, your incredible strength and tenacity, the Words He whispered to you at 3am, the song in the shower and what you’ve been bursting to share for the last hour.

So the next Sunday you spend sipping on cold tea and clearing up the polystyrene cup your five year old just shredded, look around at those who love and celebrate you…oh and make sure your coffee is fully leaded!

The Table

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We eat dinner around the table in our home every night, apart from of course the nights when Dave declares it a ‘TV dinner’ night (usually Friday’s); the children yelp with delight whilst I have visions of spills and pizza and pesto and dog paws mixed together on our leather sofas. They balance their plates and fight over film preferences whilst I catch drips and drinks and the looks on their faces; which are usually pretty beautiful and relaxed; I guess everyone needs a break from routine!

Tonight is Wednesday; so we were most definitely around the table. And we had a guest, so we served up flash fry steak, a mix of small white and sweet potatoes cut into quarters smothered in olive oil and pink Himalayan salt  baked till crispy, and of course a luscious salad made of spinach and whatever else I could find in the bottom of the fridge; chopped apple, cheese and red peppers. We inched the 7th chair around the table and slowly served up the steak and potatoes with surround sound of “please pass the water, I don’t like spinach, where’s my Elsa doll”, you know the drill! Then we offer up the question ‘who’d like to pray’ and it’s always Sienna, followed by Micah; it’s always the same words and they never cease to bring a smile of gratitude and love across my face. But then the talking does.not.stop! There’s the chatter and clanking and occasional pinching, there’s crunching and munching – and thanking. Most nights Dave and I naively try to ‘catch up’ around the table and frequently get frustrated at our inability to get a word in edgeways.

But there are days when the beauty around this table catches my breath; the repeated rhythms of chopping and cooking and serving and saying thanks are indicative of the heartbeat of our family. This table has won our hearts, fed our appetites, caught our tears and revived our souls, this table has watered weary travellers and maybe even entertained angels. This table has been the birth place of dreams and the laying down of schemes; it holds married secrets and whispers of weakness.

And even when it’s not surrounded by chatter and things that matter; the table stands as a significant place of gathering in our home; a visceral holding place of all things family. Like now, all is quite – I’m tapping out these words late into the night, the food has been cleared away and most of todays table inhabitants are sleeping. I can see on it a cloth doll in a white dress with brown woolen plaits, a pair of pink patterned socks and a book strewn across the wipe clean cover.

And all is still until tomorrow where again, it will get its fill.

Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.

Psalm 128: 3

A Christmas Eve Message 2014

10872809_10152454394615800_8137556753705250683_o…twas the night before Christmas

This is an transcription of the message I brought at the Mosaic Church Carols by Candlelight service on the 24th December 2014

So our time of waiting and anticipation is almost over; we’re here together on the edge of Christmas; we’ve counted the days on our advent calendars and now we’re counting the hours on our fingers. You might (like me) still have wrapping and food prep to face when you get home; but there’s something so different tonight isn’t there? The anticipation of your children’s faces and the satisfaction of filling loved ones tummies brings sheer delight; it’s not a chore or a bore – love keeps us going till the wee small hours!

Some of my favourite memories of Christmas eve as a child were when my brother, sister and I would all sleep over in the same bedroom; we’d talk, laugh (be shhh’d by busy parents downstairs) and reminisce of Christmas’s past, then finally doze off just in time for that silent visitor to deliver stockings at the end of our beds.

Christmas brings us together; we want to share memories, re-live traditions and do the same things.year.after.year. We smile and sing loudly when the radio plays ‘last Christmas’ for the 10th time that day, we click the ‘share’ button on the John Lewis advert on facebook; we want others to feel what we felt when we watched monty the penguin find his mate! We book concert tickets, we buy the sparkly dress, we polish off the chocolates in the staff room at work, we write a billion cards for our daughter’s nursery class despite knowing little Sally’s Mum will be showered with a whole class of them when she digs the bag out of the back of car the night before nursery starts again in January! Because it’s busy. We’re all busy. Busy blessing and baking and breathing and being, oh and bargain hunting.

Anticipation and preparation isn’t a new phenomenon, it was going on over 2000 years ago. On one particular night a young couple had to pack up and travel. Without a sniff of a baby shower, a cool Oyster buggy or a subscription to ‘Prima pregnancy magazine’ this nervous father to-be and his pregnant bride started their Christmas eve journey. They attempted and failed at last minute hotel bookings, and they were carrying a gift. One really special gift.

This gift, this son, was held by one but meant for many, this gift would never be returned, would never grown old and we’d tire of it, it would be passed down from generation to generation. This gift wasn’t a lush bath bomb, a set of golf clubs, a Frozen sing-along DVD, a spiderman suit or a diamond ring; this gift to share was a baby King. Jesus.

That journey was taken with our King in utero; Mary and Joseph walked the road to our Christmas story with much more anticipation than your 6 year old is feeling tonight.

This baby King was anticipated, hoped for, longed for and spoken of by Prophets of old. Just as you wrote a name on each gift you wrapped; this gift was named before He was revealed; wonderful, counsellor, prince of peace, mighty God, everlasting Father…and He has our name, your name written on His palm.

And His name; Emmanuel which means ‘God with us’ has hung in the air through centuries, years, seasons, days, hours and moments, like this one ‘God with us’ here right now – loving us, guiding us, whispering to us through this year of hard and happy, real and raw, fast and free. God really is with us tonight on Christmas Eve 2014.

One writer puts it like this:

He is the God who is so for you that He can’t stay away from you! The God who so loves you and likes you and isn’t merely a little bit for you or halfway for you or kind of for you but is always, fully, completely, totally, entirely, all the way, 100 percent for you – this is God whose chooses to be right with you.

So God threw open the door of this world and entered as a baby. He came as a baby because He was done with barriers. He disarmed himself so that you could take him in your arms. God came as a baby because He wants to be unimaginably close to you. What God ever came so tender that we could touch him? So fragile that we could break him? Only the one who loves you to death. Only the God who had to come back to get you, to free you, to be with you. Who wants the gift of His presence more than anything else? Christmas isn’t about getting something big and shiny. It’s about God’s doing whatever it takes to be with us – and our doing whatever it takes to be with Him

Ann Voskamp – The Greatest Gift

 

But this baby being born wasn’t the end of the story – it was just the beginning.

And maybe tonight is just the beginning for you; He’s a God of new beginnings – He does that so well. He brings perspective and we can but bring our Praise.

And maybe tonight is about perspective; along with anticipation and preparation – we need perspective. This journey, your journey might not quite be what it seems…

46 years ago on this night

Christmas Eve, 1968 the Apollo 8 astronauts – Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – became the first people to orbit another world.

As their command module floated above the lunar surface, the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “on the good Earth.”

The mission was also famous for the iconic “Earthrise” image, snapped by Anders, which would give humankind a new perspective on their home planet. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth.

The moon landing was still months away but this significant journey brought a fresh perspective for many, of the place where God had put them; where they lived, breathed and existed. Why are we so quick to want to see something else, be someone else, have something more when God has given us right here, right now, and YOU, you’re incredible – infact you resemble the gift, you look like Him; our creator and He’s reaching out ready to meet us right here, right now, Christmas eve 2014

So go ahead wrap the final gifts, prepare the turkey, set out the table and get some sleep…if you’re able, but make room in your heart and home for this gift, the most important gift – you see He’s the prince of peace and who doesn’t want that in their life this Christmas?

And in this season when we remember that bright star that illuminated the place where the baby king lay; may we see His light guiding us into peace, hope, freedom and life.

So I finish with words of the prophet Isaiah:

For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us!

He’ll take over the running of the world.

His names will be: Amazing Counselor,

Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.

His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going

With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.

The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

Children are for forever, not just for Christmas – (Eternal Perspective part 2)

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Keeping a healthy ‘perspective’ as a parent can be a minute by minute, blow by blow challenge – and that’s on a good day! It’s so much more than not crying over spilt milk or ‘sweating the small stuff’ it’s the kind of heart wrenching. guilt fighting, confidence crushing moments when we either choose to rise up and remember who we are or we hide under that ‘no one gave me a manual for this’ table in your corner of the world.

“No one can ever prepare you for what happens when you have a child. When you see the baby in your arms and you know that it’s your job now. No one can prepare you for the love and the fear.”

‘About Time’

Parenting can so often feel like we’ve bitten off more than we can chew; like the family dog on a Sunday afternoon walk attempting to cart home the fallen tree rather than the small stick thrown as part of a game. You see it’s not a game is it? This parenting job is the biggest thing I’ve ever done and ever will do. My children are my greatest achievement and my greatest challenge; they’re my greatest joy and my deepest fear. My children are to blame for my sleep deprivation and essential oil intoxication with their feeding, rocking, hushing and sleep fighting, with their growing pains and their stalling games. Coffee brings temporary relief but what you’re really feeling is nap grief (smile).But when they sleep you stare and run your fingers through their hair and kiss their rosebud lips whilst taking sips…of cold coffee!

And you’re right. Nobody gives us a manual – but come on out from your hiding place and take your space in the land of the alive and living because you.can.do.this!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear –  1 John 4:18

Parenting with an eternal perspective starts from the womb. Not when you were in the womb (I’m not that deep, really!) but when your child is in uteri sapping your energy, hauling you into bed at 8pm and helping you become familiar with the toilet mixing bowl as your hormones do that crazy ride that no one seems to be able to explain or understand…apart from those ‘helpful’ mothers who felt a bit nauseous during pregnancy and tell you to stop eating sugar, eat raw ginger, exercise, sip lemon juice…but I know, I get it. Nothing.Works

We parent in the here and the now.  We so often desire to press the HDR button of our falsely photogenic life to focus on the ‘moment’ of mothering tranquillity where children play at our feet as we listen to gentle music and sip on tea – yet in the blurred out background of that instagramable moment is the crazy and the messy and the real and the raw. And that’s where we live. Time to adjust our perspective; go ahead and squint a little – now do you see the gift?

They are gifts these children of ours. Gifts handmade with precision and peace; perfectly placed in wombs – catalysts of transformation beyond our visible horizon. He knew what he was doing when he place that loud, cute, crazy and lazy into your hands and homes. He placed eternity in our hearts and today He’s asking us to see His children, your children in that light. Eternity.

Your little girl with the pig tales and adoring eyes will walk her own journey of loss and love, joy and pain… and it won’t be the same. How are you preparing her for that today? Your inquisitive son with his curious, messy ways and kissable dimple will succeed and fail, build and bail, maybe lie and cry…on somebody else’s shoulder. How are you preparing him for that today? If we mothered and fathered in the light of eternity we’d consider each.mundane.act.of.service as a gift; a privilege and a joy.

If we mothered and fathered in the light of eternity we’d sow our words and reactions actions carefully, intentionally and whole heartedly.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”

When I look at my children I’ve tried to train my eyes and heart to see the men and the women they will become.

The mess and mundane is mould-able, we shape the confused and chaotic into character, we see the simple and small as an echo of His call.

I daily declare my imperfections and fragility as a parent yet I daily proclaim my reliance on His grace. He turns my weaknesses into His opportunities. When I consider the gift of their lives I daily point them to Jesus; the author and perfecter of our faith. And if they see Him, they see forever. If I can just reveal a glimpse of heaven’s heart for them, if they can breathe when the air is thick and the pressures on and it seems like hope is gone – they’ll find their song.

Eternity.

You can read part 1 of the Eternal Perspective series here 

 

The Struggle for Sound

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“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul”

Kate Chopin

Everyone has a voice; whether quiet or loud, whether it’s through speech or sculpture, singing or sketching, cooking or caring – everyone has a voice. We’re lead to believe that he who shouts the loudest is heard; is powerful – has influence. I’m not sure I agree; it’s sound that shapes us. Just this morning I was playing (on YouTube, not for real – now that would be awesome!), Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ from his violin concertos. I closed my eyes and allowed the silvery notes to cascade over me; my children looked on and asked “are you OK Mum?”, I answer with a smile “Yes, just allowing the sound to connect with my soul”, they laughed lovingly and knowingly. That’s what sound does – it connects, it moves, it changes & it challenges us.

“A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it’s a whisper.” ~  Barry Neil Kauffman

Our voice, influence and impact is important to us – for some this is in the political arena, in business or the work place, for others it’s in at the school gate, in the home or within marriage (and everything in-between). We want to be heard and we want that hearing to go to the heart. That’s where change happens.

We all have a voice

I guess I never knew I had anything to say – we live this lie of having to ‘live life’, prove ourselves perfect before we can pass anything on, before we could every deem our story as important or significant. Brene Brown calls it ‘hustling for worthiness’ – trying to find our place, our voice and our meaning in all the wrong places when it’s right there – within us. God’s design is for growth and multiplication in everything He created therefore we have a responsibility to use the seed (the sound) that God has deposited with us; to grow what we know by sowing it into others.

You cook, you sing, you write, you create, you make, you mend, you give of yourself over and over again; and this is called ‘sound’. Sound spreads, shatters and impacts places we can never reach with our own understanding or abilities. But God. He takes our ‘sound’ and makes it His – uses it for His glory. Nothing is insignificant, nothing is ordinary.

I don’t think I every actually ‘lost it’, you know, shouted until I was in my first year at University and this guy who lived on the middle floor of my halls of residence got me REALLY mad and I stunned myself with the volume of my voice; actually that’s a lie – I do remember a ‘raised voice’ occasion with at my Mum at the age of 16 stressing to her the point that I was 16; but I can’t remember why, it’s never important afterwards is it? You see I didn’t come from a shouty house at all. My parents would have ‘heated discussions’ after we’d gone to bed and I knew it was serious if my Dads voice got lower and lower – but never shouting, that was never part of the culture of our home. Sound was a part of the culture of my home growing up. The sound of my Mum worshipping whilst washing dishes, radio 4 murmuring from the dining room as my Dad sipped on his tea, conversation with neighbours and friends who regularly popped by, children’s voices and squeals from the garden, life lived around the meal table, the silence of the countryside; I loved the simple sounds of my childhood.

I was always kind of shy. I was the kind of kid who had to be prised from my mum, screaming, in an attempt to leave me in the church crèche for the duration of the 30 minute sermon; I panicked and fought if my parents tried to pass me to a loving aunt or a family friend. With much prayer and patient parental perseverance I came through this stage.

“I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice”  Shakespeare

I found my voice as a teenager and sang my way into adulthood  – just as I was beginning to think I was the only non-creative in my family as I couldn’t ‘draw’, God brought alongside me a woman who found the end of the vocal thread within me and determined within herself to gently pull, pull & pull until the notes made sense and my heart recognised the seed of the sound that would form who I am and who I continue to become; through song I found my voice.

But there’s always something to hide from, to cower away from – things, people or situations that mute our message and mock our attempts to be heard.

And here I find myself; wife and mother of 4, home educator, pastor and trainee crafter of words. I’m a recently self-discovered introvert seeking soul silence in the midst of a beautiful cacophony of life and love and laying down everything I thought I was.

God gives us all a voice but he also gives us the right environment to use it. This can vary from the workplace to the world but we all have something to say. God gives us all a soap box and asks us to step upon it in the right season at the right time

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalms 116:1-2 NIV)”

I have learnt that the sound that God has placed within me is for purpose and will be outworked in a unique way. I have learnt to be confident of this very thing that He who has begun a great work in me will continue it until completion. I have learnt that God tunes, and forms my voice for His glory and in His timing.

I have learnt that everyone has a voice; and God in His infinite creative way expresses this differently through us all.

Let’s attune our ear to those around us – everyone has a voice