As you walk, talk…

As you walk, talk…

This afternoon the children and I took Lacey to the park and wandered the maze of paths on a ‘Mother’s Day’ walk. I admired the spring flowers, Katy attempted to take control of the dog and Ethan got as muddy as he could possibly get along the bank of the river. We attempted the outdoor exercise machines together and Lacey said hello to at least 20 other friends.  I took a few moments with them both individually to remind them how much God loves them and to talk through a couple of issues they are facing today. It was a precious hour.

It got me thinking again of the immense number of influences that they are exposed to just in their day to day interactions. Friends, teachers, activity leaders, media etc. How many words they hear each day which speak of values within society today. Sometimes they are worthy values and sometimes they are not. I understand that as they grow they need to hear the points of view of others, the beliefs and values of others, but also that my responsibility as their Mum is to lay down foundations of our family and faith values. I so want them to be ‘trees of righteousness, planted by living waters’ with strong roots going down deep. I want them to be able to stand on their own and know where they’ve been grown and the source of their life.

I am fascinated by Jewish family traditions which embrace the children in the knowing of scripture and faith. We have our own family traditions of reading scripture and praying together, but today I feel spurred on to even more intentional moments of bringing God, the source of their life, into their every day normal.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6 v6-7

Father, we ask for your help today to inspire us to talk more to our children as we walk with them everyday. To say your name, speak your truth and teach them your ways. Please be our guide as we seek to grow well planted trees of righteousness.

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Giving up or giving out

Giving up or giving out

It’s not every day that you come home and find your husband has bought you a cactus. A bunch of flowers maybe, but not a cactus. There’s colour and life and freshness in flowers. Even a scent that makes you breathe deeper. But a cactus?

This one is about as ordinary as cacti get. Green and prickly. That’s it. But it will actually serve us a good purpose over the next 40 days of Lent. A constant reminder on our kitchen table of this reflective, repentant, cleansing, challenging time of year. I discovered recently that during Lent in some traditions the word ‘alleluia’ is not spoken at all until with great rejoicing on Easter Sunday. At first I was disappointed to think such a big word of praise should be absent for such a long time. But then I thought again that maybe this Lent time would have more meaning if my sacrifices had meaning and actually cost me something.

‘Giving up’ can be hard. Chocolate, crisps, alcohol, Facebook (I’m going to do one of those!). But I think ‘giving out’ is actually more of a challenge. Thinking about how I can make someone else’s life better today. Thinking about someone else outside of my own stuff and reaching beyond my place of comfortable.

I’m ready to feel the ‘ouch’ of the cactus, and I hope it spurs me into action.

As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.     2  Thessalonians 3v13

Father, please keep me alert during this Lent to the needs of others. Help me to be kind and good and to look far beyond my small circle of me. Help me to reach out and not keep my hands by my sides. Amen.

 

Root Beer and Coca-Cola

Root Beer and Coca-Cola

Yesterday I had the joy of sharing Katy’s 12th birthday celebrations with her and three school friends. She started ‘big school’ in September, but these three girls are all from her primary school and only one of them is with her at College. It was lovely to see how they just picked up with each other quite easily, Katy being the glue between them all. The other three were not especially close at primary school, but I’m realising that Katy’s friendship brings them all together in a comfortable way. They are all wonderful girls and the laughs of them throughout the day warmed my heart and turned the corners of my smile.

They obviously love her, and she is beautifully unaware how much! She treats them all equally well and with kindness and inclusion and there is never any sense of one against the other.

As they sipped root beer and Coke (having responded with blank faces when I asked if they all wanted hot chocolate!) and shared birthday gifts with Katy, I was able to sit out of sight around the corner in the cafe and warmly celebrate growing up. Katy has always been a little wary of growing up, enjoying the moment is how she really ticks, but she seems to have reached this place with strength and grace.

Later on they all experimented with Sushi amidst more squeals and discussions about what they liked and disliked on the table. Some plates were emptied, some were smeared bravely with wasabi paste and some needed sandwiches made. It was great fun. And as they tucked in to birthday cake (minus the mouthful stolen by the dog!) and sang ‘happy birthday’ I was thankful for all the friendships in Katy’s life, near and far, young and not so young. Friends who stand together with her, hands joined, hearts shared, hopes secretly spoken.

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17 v 17

Father, thank you for the safe places found in the hearts of friends. Places to laugh and cry and not hold back. Help us to be faithful friends to others, offering love and loyalty, gentleness and generosity, wise words and ever listening ears. Amen

Rain, rain and more rain.

rain grey

These past few weeks our little country has been deluged and people’s homes and lives devastated by the torrents of rain. Driving to work in the mornings, even when there’s been no rain overnight, the water is still running off the fields and along the side of the roads like a river, because the ground is saturated. Our garden is just one huge pond and the poor dog won’t step foot on it.

I love that idea of being so filled up with something that there is an overflow. The rainwater flowing alongside my car in the mornings is evident of way too much water for the ground to deal with.  Whether it’s happiness, peace, blessings, love: isn’t it a beautiful thought to have so much of it that the overflow of it touches the lives of the people around us?

In our local interactive science and discovery centre (W5) there is a place where your shadow is somehow reflected onto the screen in front of you and magically butterflies (or raindrops, or rainbow drops) pour over your shadow. If you hold out your arms, the butterflies pile up on top of your shoulders until there is room for no more and they tumble over the edge of your shadow fingers to the floor below. It’s quite wonderful.

My hubby has always been a big giver away-er. In fact, it frustrates him when he is unable to do just that. This past year he has been unwell and not as able to give of himself in the ways that he normally loves to – time, money,  a helping hand. His generous heart, no less generous, but limited by physical restraints.

I was reminded this week of some verses from Hosea which talk about how much we need the ‘winter and spring rains’ of Father in times of dryness and lack. But more importantly, how much we need to turn to the provider of that nourishing and soul-feeding rain when life has drained us. He gives more than we could ever expect. More than we could ever even hope for. Today I turn to Him again. And tomorrow I will do the same.

Come and let us return to the Lord…He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth. Hosea 6 v 1 and 3

Father, in my emptiness and dryness and drained-ness, I come to you. I open my arms wide and lift my face to you. In worship. In repentance. In hope. That your love and mercy which follows me every day of my life, will be evidently full to bursting through each of those days. And in the bursting, let others be soaked with the splashes of your refreshing and life-giving rain.

New Year prayer

New Year prayer

 

This past year has been hard and horrible and I’m glad I’m leaving it behind.

In this new year there are a few things that I hope I can do more.

Much, much more…

Be thankful. Pray. Be aware of His presence. Look for the wonder.

Love. Hug. Hold hands. Laugh.

Walk and talk. Watch clouds and stars. Listen and learn.

Read and write. Make and bake.

Be useful. Be kind. (Thanks Barack Obama for those words of wisdom!)

Have hope and faith.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4v4-7

Father, thank you that in the pain of the past, you have been present. During the storm you have been in our boat. In the times of lack, you have been all that we have needed. In our loneliness you have come alongside. In our weeping you have whispered words of peace. In the darkness you have been light.

At the doorstep of this new year, we pray that you will help us to keep our eyes steady as we look to you, our hands steady as we seek to do all that you ask us and our feet steady on the path that you reveal step by step.

Amen