So last week wasn’t the best week, on a whole, but we’re out of “the red zone” now and the clouds are starting to clear! There’s much about my attitude and approach to life that needs to change, so I ask Husband to pray for me and with me. Which he does. ‘Cos he’s good like that.
The kids loved our travelling days so much last week that they’ve asked to go somewhere new every Saturday. I did campaign for once every other week, just to give some respite, but the suggestion went down like a lead balloon! So… today…we’re off to Greece!
We stamp our passports, take off, watch a tour online, and then Husband cooks Gyros which are genuinely SUPERB.
After lunch, it’s a sunny day so we make a fake beach in the garden, colour, compete in the olympics and staple some leaves together into ancient greek crowns! After tea, (stuffed peppers- of course), we watch Hercules on Disney Plus.
An absolute blinder of a day.
Thank. You. God!
We’re back in the game.
Someone else in the Church does All Age online today- hoorah! The day feels much lighter as we enjoy being PJ participants.
Next up, my parents have set another family challenge, with egg boxes this time…
Family Zoom is difficult. I feel bad for the grandparents who want to see the kids, but bad for the kids who always play up and lose the plot within 15 minutes. Truth is they don’t seem to realise they’ve not seen people for a while, (we don’t see grandparents regularly anyway), until confronted with a cyber chat; then they have feelings they don’t know what to do with. Point in fact: the four year old, who has been fully toilet trained for well over two years, goes upstairs and purposefully urinates on his carpet while we are talking. Baffling.
My Dad tells me the weather is set to change this week and I instantly regret not making the most of the sun last week. Make a vow to slow down, count our blessings; don’t take anything for granted; be thankful. Because you know, it’s funny, I often forget that joy is actually a commandment.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.”
(Not just for the first few weeks of lockdown, until it gets hard!)
With that in mind, I entertain some other thoughts this morning.
When was the last time I actually started the day in prayer and committed it to God?
Backtrack: I’ve been reading a book, (I know- an actual book!!) Picking it up in the stolen moments I’d normally be using my phone. And I’m a bit addicted, (which is why I don’t usually read). It’s a Christian fiction novel (I had no idea these existed!); part of a series called The Mark of the Lion by Francine Rivers; gifted to me by a friend 6 years ago, and sat on the bookshelf gathering dust ever since. Now here I am, dusty book in one hand, toothbrush in the other; following the lives and loves of early Christians in Ancient Rome and wondering, a) why I never read it before? And b) if I ever really had a faith like that?
The more I read, the more I remember that I did once, not so long ago. But then… I don’t know. I guess I got complacent, comfortable, tired. I guess I stopped believing that what I did in the day-to-day really mattered to God? I lost my wide-eyed wonder beneath the familiar, and dragged my rugged cross behind me with the laundry.
First thing this morning, I kneel by my bed, the way I envisage old housewives used to. Before I speak to anyone else, I kneel before God and declare quite simply, “thy will be done.”
It’s not much, I know, but it’s an acknowledgement. A starting point. A realisation that God is still God, and I am still me; that the promise I made to live for Him almost 20 years ago still stands; and that His promise to guide and use me and provide for me lasts forever.
(Yes. Even in lockdown with 3 kids and a vicar!)
And do you know what… it’s a really good day. Amen to that!
Following on- the reflections are really flowing this week!- I get to thinking that it’s almost easier to seek God’s guidance and provision when faced with the unknown. And while the virus is a big, scary unknown; 6 weeks in your own home, stripped of all the “important tasks” that keep you busy, painfully aware of all your own weaknesses and doubts… is not.
What’s more; I am no longer the young, single new believer, traveling the world and imagining what her life might be. Rather, I am, thankfully, happily married; I have borne all of my children, and we have settled- for now- into an indefinite vocation and location. Anything can change, of course, but for now, that sense of “mystery” has somewhat diminished. My life has become secondary to my children; my ministry or career to my husband. And so in my narrow little mind I figure… surely God’s got more important people to communicate with these days?!
And I forget.
I forget that all of those precious circumstances ARE callings- and callings which were once heavily discerned. They each have wonderful, detailed stories of faith attached to them. They were once each shrouded in mystery; revealed in prophecy; and required enormous steps of faith and trust in God to even come about. I am living a life that I was lead to, called to, prayed for and believed in, even when it seemed impossible.
So… when did I stop thinking of it like that?
It dawns on me this morning, with blessed reassurance, that what I do in the day-to-day, as a wife and a mother, if nothing else, has intrinsic value. That how I play those roles, how I influence my children, how I serve my Husband and pray for those around me, MATTERS to God! This was all no accident. I am not forgotten by God or abandoned to my complacency.
So today’s prayer goes something like this:
“I thank you God that you created me and you know me and you love me the same. I am in the right place at the right time. You gifted me this man and these particular children; and you gave them me! You know my weaknesses better than anyone, and STILL you gave us oneanother. I am far from perfect, but your Grace is sufficient for me; Your power made perfect in my many, many weaknessess. Please help me to serve You today, to follow Your lead, to allow Your will to be done. Because all of this matters, and none of it goes unnoticed. Be with us Lord I pray, and grow us into the family You have called us to be. “
A. Flippin. Men.
It’s been a long time coming.
Now. For a quick dose of reality, because we’ve gone waay existential…
In the afternoon we walk to the post box and it takes TWO HOURS. We take a little cut through some trees and reach a clearing, at which point the kids just bolt! They run and scream and roll around on the floor, and…
On the way home, the Littlest, who seems to have started wearing clothes and stopped weeing on the carpet (Hallelujah!) tells me she needs a wee. Eager not to undo any of this progress, I quickly whip down her rainsuit and dangle her over a bush, (bringing back many a childhood memory!). She smiles up at me and I try to distinguish if she’s finished or not, as it’s confusing in the rain. She tells me she’s still going so I wait, only to have the Eldest wander over, look down and then up at me and say, “Mummy… you do realise she’s weeing into her coat hood don’t you?”
Yup. And it was raining so you know… hood gotta be worn!
Last night Husband downloaded Tik Tok. I mocked him, as I had read it was just for kids and paedophiles?! He proceeded to show me a ton of funny videos until, at 11.30pm, we realised what time it was and how teenagers become glued to their phones!
When we finally switched off the lights, Husband whispered:
“The plumber is coming at 8 15.”
I laughed, “Is that a euphemism?”
He says, “I hope not… the kids are really excited about the new tap!”
And they are. They really, really are. Bless them!
So today I am very tired. But we have managed to get our broken kitchen tap socially-distancing-ly changed in the midst of lockdown and the Boy is particularly enamoured by the shiny new water feature. (Seriously. I catch him stroking it, lovingly, on more than one occassion!) So that’s a blessing.
In the afternoon, I rock the little one to sleep. I had planned on an all-singing, all-dancing end to our space adventures but, sitting down, don’t fancy getting up! The kids keep asking what they can do, so I try a new approach. Directing them towards the science books and the scissors and the stationary- all the stuff they usually find without being asked!- I tell them they can make it themselves. Like, actually by themselves. Neither of us are sure how this will go, but in the end, I read five chapters of my book and they produce this:
Yesterday I received a worrying text from a very-newly single mum in our church. It took me all day to get hold of her, but when I did, we agreed to pray together over the phone each morning. So I now kneel and pray, have a wash and call her up. It’s a really lovely way to start the day, and I already feel miles away from my pit.
Later, I feel my rag getting lost over the dreaded Maths. Tempted by another meltdown, I remember that I’m supposed to be walking with Jesus again; so I pray and then call the school instead. I manage to talk to a teacher, get some advice, reassurance and signposts to alternative resources. Hallelujah! All is not lost! (And thank God for people who know what they’re doing and continue to do it!)
The Boy is in a strange mood today. We’re seeing a lot more outbursts of odd behaviour from him this week, whilst the Eldest has worn her school uniform everyday. It’s definitely starting to get to them. Against my usual rules, I stick a movie on for the girls, refuse to feel guilty and take out some quality time with the Boy. Thankfully, he is the one most prone to jealousy, so the girls take it quite well and we end up creating this:
Start the day the new usual way, and then apply the breaks! There’s a few injuries during exercise time and alot of cuddles required. Some friends have made a mock music video called Pants on our Heads and the kids love it. We watch it about 15 times before I finally start school! Today, apparently, we’re traveling to the kitchen by bus (yesterday was a horse and carriage!)
Husband is around this afternoon, so I decide to leave the Engish and Maths until I can get some time with the eldest alone. Instead, we move on in our Bible-slash-Science mash-up; away from space and down to earth… and I’m pretty impressed with how this playdough model worked out!
Of course, once the Playdough was cut, it soon became pizza and cake and the kids became waiters and then toothfairies (?!), quickly departing the grown-up planet altogether. So… I’ve resigned to leave them to it!
At the end of this week, I feel exhausted, yet restored in more ways than one. I’ve been reminded of the power of the smallest of prayers; and, judging by the messages recieved this afternoon, that God really does hear them all.
Peace be with you! Much love and thanks for reading xx