Christian

Am I growing?

At the start of the academic year, I reflected on change. Small Boy was about to start in the nursery class at our local primary school, I went back to work after a year’s leave, and both Small Boy and Little Miss were going to be looked after by a new childminder.

It’s now the end of the summer term and sitting here on a hot and humid July’s evening, last September seems such a long time ago. Both children have grown and developed so much in the last ten months – as one would expect them too. Physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, there have been huge steps forward. Literally, in the case of Little Miss who started walking in October!

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But have I grown?

What does it even mean for me to grow?

Am I growing in my relationship with God? Am I more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient and more kind? Am I more gentle, more faithful and more self-controlled?

There’s a story in the Bible of two sisters: Martha and Mary. Friends of Jesus, they open their home to him. Martha works hard preparing the house for their guests while Mary sits and listens to the intriguing itinerant rabbi. Martha becomes angry with her sister and appeals to Jesus, who then gently chastises his harried host: ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’

I have always identified with Martha and find Mary irritating. I would have been angry with her too! I am an activist, a list-maker, a doer. I love the feeling of satisfaction when I achieve a goal – even if it’s just a small task!

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But Mary has chosen what is better.

I cannot escape the thought that growth isn’t about my achievements or my knowledge.

Am I sitting at the feet of my rabbi? Or am I rushing around trying to serve him?

I know I have written about this before and I’m embarrassed and frustrated that I still seem to be in the same place.

I still long for something deeper but struggle with the demands of my days.

Maybe it’s also sometimes easy to keep moving than to stop.

I think I will wrestle with this for many years to come.

Christian

Today I flew a kite

I flew a kite today for the first time in over 20 years. 

I noticed it was exceptionally windy this morning when I went outside to the recycling, so when Mr Pilgrim asked what we should do today, I replied: ‘let’s go and fly our kite!’

I’d spontaneously bought it for £2.99 from Oxfam in the summer, confident Small Boy and Little Miss would want one someday. 

The morning reminded me of afternoons on French beaches with Grand-père; the kite spending more time on the ground than in the air. 

But occasionally we got it: the colourful diamond dancing and swirling and circling with its long blue tail twisting and turning through the air.

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In these moments, I almost held my breath with joy and wonder. It was the same when I went sailing earlier this year. Again, it didn’t happen often but every now and then, I’d position the boat correctly with the wind in the sails and we would pick up speed. My muscles and mind remained tense as I concentrated on the boat but inside there was deep exhilaration and joy.

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My instructor was able to look at the lake and determine where the wind was and then position the boat ready for the gusts. I don’t know much about meteorology, sailing or kite-flying but I wonder if this is what journeying with God could be like. We wait, we watch and then together we move in a divine partnership. 

We sing a song at church called ‘Jesus, Be the Centre’ which contains the line ‘Be the wind in these sails’. (It’s a beautiful song, if you have a moment, you can listen here) 

So that’s my prayer for 2018: Jesus, be the centre. Be the wind in these sails. 

Waiting, watching, sailing, soaring.

Christian

Advent 2017

The season of Advent is about to begin. We’ll be putting up our Christmas tree at the weekend and will start spending time each day reading the Christmas story with Small Boy and Little Miss. 

(We also have a Lego Advent calendar for Small Boy and Little Miss has an Advent mouse with a tutu!) 

I’m going to start reading a recently-published novel ‘A Christmas Calling’ by Chris Cottee as well as two devotionals ‘A Perfect Love’ by Mummas: The Word and ‘The Meaning is in the Waiting‘ by Paula Gooder (a charity shop bargain in January). 

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I want to make space for God during the busyness but more than that: I want my everyday nappy-changing, tidying, cooking, shopping, queueing, Facebooking, walking to school, project-planning life to be Christ-centred. 


I have now been blogging for a year. My first posts are all reflections on Advent and Christmas which you may wish to read or re-read over the next few weeks: 

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

God moved into the neighbourhood

The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes

Take the child, his mother and flee

Waiting for the baby

Ecological concern · Ethical living

I’m a Little Teapot

Small Boy learns a new nursery rhyme each week at school and this week it’s I’m a Little Teapot.

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I have just started using my teapots regularly as I have switched to loose leaf tea because tea bags contain plastic.

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Boil the kettle.

Wait.

Warm the pot.

One spoon for me.

And one for the pot.

Wait.

Pour the milk into the mug.

Find the tea strainer.

Pour the tea.

It certainly takes longer but there’s something peaceful about the pause, the ritual and the space.

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Christian

Waiting for the baby

Earlier this year towards the end of my pregnancy, a friend sent me this meme causing me to laugh wryly:

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The last trimester can feel like it lasts forever but I knew it wouldn’t be long until the wait (and the physical discomfort) would be over and I could look at my baby’s face and hold her in my arms.

How did Mary, the girl chosen to be the mother of the God-baby, feel as her time to give birth drew near?

Giving birth to Small Boy just before Christmas gave me a fresh appreciation of Mary’s courage and obedience. In the final months of pregnancy I felt HUGE (this is because I was), struggled to sleep and suffered from dyspepsia (yep – the nausea and vomiting wasn’t just first trimester). I waddled rather than walked and stayed close to home and the hospital. You wouldn’t have found me making a five-day journey sitting on a donkey.

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Mary wasn’t the only one waiting for her baby to arrive – this was the moment the Jewish people had been longing for: the arrival of the Messiah, the one who will rescue God’s people.

A friend recently asked me if I had a favourite Christmas carol. ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, I replied immediately.

This is my favourite section:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings

These lyrics come from the ancient prophecy of Malachi and look forward to the Lord’s coming:

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (Malachi 4:2, New Living Translation)

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These words speak to me of emotional healing and freedom. Christmas can be such a difficult time emotionally: we can feel sorrow or regret as we remember absent loved ones and we can get stressed if high expectations aren’t met. Spending time with family can mean we revert to playing the roles we had in childhood. Even in precious seasons, there can be challenges – a friend of a friend has written some great advice about Christmas with a baby. If you think this Christmas is going to be a tough time for you emotionally, then please be kind to yourself and maybe talk things through with someone. (In the UK, the Samaritans can be called for free at any time.)

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament:

It would be four hundred years between Malachi and Matthew. History didn’t stop. Kings and kingdoms came and went. But God’s redemptive plan stayed on schedule. When the time was right, Jesus would bring salvation to both Jews and the Gentiles. God’s kingdom arrived in the person of his Son.‘ (They Spoke from God: A survey of the Old Testament, p. 836)

Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting is so much harder when I don’t know how long I have to wait. If I’m waiting for a bus and I know one is coming in a hour, I am content and productive. But if I’m waiting and I don’t know when (or even if) a bus is coming, the time passes slowly and I’m on edge. Would I have waited differently if I’d known at age 18 that it would only be 12 years until I met Mr Pilgrim? 

I love these words from Shane Claiborne about how to wait: ‘And we wait in expectation of the full coming of God’s reign on earth and for the return of Christ, what God will yet do. But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waiting. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer, work; and birth involves pain, blood, tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world.

On Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of the God-baby and ‘Hail the Sun of Righteousness’. The wait is over. If you’re currently waiting for something, then wait with God. His timing is perfect.

Merry Christmas! Have a good one.

Dido x