Husband is half way through his Track and Trace isolation and, I’ll be honest, it’s working out pretty well for him. Not only did he swerve the food shop and the school run midweek, but he also managed to have a two hour nap today while I took the kids out to play! Jammy.
Unfortunately for him, however, it was a glorious day. Bright, low autumn sun, crisp orange leaves, with plenty of squirrels and robins waiting to be spotted. There was a trail of wooden fairy doors attached to the trees too, and the kids stopped at each and every one to knock and shout, “hello?!”
It was all incredibly cute; the kind of day you imagine having when you decide you’d like to breed! (And the kind that keeps you going when you realise you didn’t read the small print!)
Remembrance Day. We do some activity packs from Church today, which focus on remembrance and the hope we have in Christ.
I spend the rest of the day distracted and a little on edge, without really knowing why. Later, a friend calls and offers to clean our house! She wants to give back to Church somehow and wondered if I might be run off my feet?
I try not to laugh as I politely decline. As wonderful as that offer may have sounded a year ago, I cling to my little To-Do list like my entire sense of purpose and self-worth depend on it!
Which is a joke. Obviously. I think…
We do have a good chat though, and she reminds me of the whole-town prayer group that I used to prioritise above all else before incumbency life got in the way. She invites me to rejoin and I spend the rest of the evening remembering that I am an intercessor; a person of prayer. God has reminded me of this calling several times this year, and several times I have conveniently forgotten again; moped about, dug my hole and then asked Him “what am I here for again?”
Next time I mope, remind me:
It’s a nice day and so Toddler and I peg out some washing, pack a lunch and head straight to the big park. Being the big park, it is well known and well packed today. I mean, for a phase called “Lockdown 2.0” this is nothing like Lockdown. The car park is packed, there’s a take away deli with a giant queue and families are milling about everywhere. Some of them are sticking to the two adult rule, but there are also brazen groups of four or five Mums, chatting away as their kids play and doing little to pretend they didn’t all come together!
Still, it’s a beautiful day mid lockdown and there’s no chance we are going home. Toddler is super cute on the park; she stands at the top of the slide deep in thought and I start to wonder if she is busy filling her pants, before she suddenly shouts, “pup treat!” and throws an imaginary bone for me to catch.
“Good dog, Skye.” She pats my head.
Going with it, I reply, “Chase is on the case!” before she chastises me.
“NO! Mummy you Skye, I Rocky. No Chase!”
“Quick! Oh no! Ponies ran away! Paw Patrol to the rescue!” She continues.
“We’re on a roll!” I get away with this one.
“Quick Skye, where Ponies?” She’s asking me.
Oh, OK, she’s genuinely asking me!
“Errr… Look! There they are over there!” I’m getting the hang of it now.
“No Mum! That’s Mayor Humdinger!” She says, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. Gosh this game is harder than I thought…
Eventually it turns out that the ponies are under the slide, we take them back to Farmer Yumi, we have a campfire, toast some marshmallows and go to sleep. After which, we manage to have real life lunch, go for a walk and do a few nature wees so that our pants remain dry throughout- win!
We head home just in time for school pick up and I already feel like I’ve had the best day ever. It’s amazing the difference being able to go out to a beautiful place in the fresh air makes! Today, I don’t want her to go to nursery. Today, I’m not ready to share her yet. Today, I am content with the stage we are at.
Later, just to balance it out, Toddler has one of her favourite Toddler Tantrums – the one that occurs when I dare to flush her poo. She does her business, washes her hands, toddles off… then comes back screaming when she hears the chain go. “Noooo! My poo! MY poo! Bring it back!!!” She then climbs back onto the toilet and commits to ten minutes of angry straining as she attempts to produce “‘NOTHER ONE!”
I challenge anyone to keep a straight face throughout this episode!
Another nice day and, as per the new rules, we are meeting a friend for a walk. On the way to her street, I find myself silently praying and blessing every person we walk past. Friday’s discussion with the window cleaner is still fresh in my mind and I can’t stop picturing the real look of torment on his face as he confides just how much he thinks about God, how crazy everyone in his life would think he was if they knew, and how much he doubted that Jesus would want him anyway. It continues to break my heart and I continue to pray for breakthrough in this particular man’s life as the week goes on; but today it also begins to change the way I view the rest of the world too.
For today I look at everyone I pass with fresh eyes. I look and I wonder how many of them feel any of the things he feels? How many people don’t know God as deeply and personally as I take for granted, but want to? How many have thoughts and questions about deeper things, but no safe space to talk about them? And how many feel unworthy of God’s love, not knowing that everything Jesus did on the cross paid the price for them?
I’ve been a Christian for twenty years, but this feels new to me today. Finally, after years of intercession, my heart bleeds for the lost. And it’s nothing fake or cheesy or dramatic; it’s not a fire-and-brimstone kind of forboding. It’s a genuine sorrow that anyone could go through this life without knowing just how much they are loved and known and redeemed by their creator. That anyone could want God but not know how much He wants them!
But I’m not an Evangelist, as such. I have no soap box and I’m not about to knock on doors or batter people with Bibles! I am, however, an intercessor. And so I start to pray; everywhere, all of the time, for everyone I see and everyone I think of. And I start to sense that this is my purpose right now: to pray and to make space. To be open and available to listen and pray with anyone who needs it; and most specifically, anyone who is searching for God.
After a spiritually charged day yesterday, the anxiety is back today and is just as inexplicable as before. I’ve been outside lots this week, I’ve seen people, I’ve talked and prayed, I’m up to date with my Bible, I have nice plans to see a friend outside today… everything is in place. And yet under the surface an unidentifiable uneasiness bubbles.
An older lady from our Church – the Grandmother of intercession- sends a message in the morning to say that I was on her mind during prayers. On a normal day this would be encouraging. Today, I think… “uh oh… what is going to happen to me that I need the Big Guns?!”
As such, I drive a little slower today!
Of course, the day is absolutely fine. Lovely in fact. But as we go to bed, the anxiety still bubbles, (not helped by the unnecessary argument between two parents on the dreaded School-Mums WhatsApp Group!) I try to explain it to Husband, but I’m speaking a foreign language. He thinks it’s Spiritual.
“This always happens when God is doing something new with you.”
I’m not sure, but have no other explanation so figure he’s probably right. We pray before bed, against the anxiety and for whatever God is doing. We also pray for our lists of people; those we normally pray for and others who only come to mind this evening. Finally, we close with Isaiah 58:6-9: a verse we were given for our area when we moved- and one which will turn out to be very relevant tomorrow!
I have a blood test in town today, so decide to make a day of it. (Honest window into pandemic life: I was genuinely so excited to write something on my calendar!)
First though, school run. Husband is still isolating so I am able to leave the little one at home, which is a nice novelty. On the way back, I happen to pass one of the school Mums who came to mind during prayers both last night and on Tuesday’s walk. I ask how she is?
“You know, not great actually…” we stand in the street and I listen for twenty minutes as she pours out some very real issues with her child. “I’m sorry… it’s just I’ve not been able to talk to anyone and you did ask!”
I don’t mind. (Of course I don’t mind, I’ve only just established that’s what I’m here for!)
She goes on to say how much she misses the Wednesday Night Church Plant at school – particularly the conversations and the space to talk about God. I ask if she’d like to pray now? She laughs… “last time we had that group I told them I don’t like giving God credit for my own ability to get through stuff! But do you know what, I’m out of ideas. I need a miracle today so yes, go on... let’s pray!”
So we pray in the street outside of school. Afterwards, I text Husband: “you were right.” He loves those messages.
Moving on, Toddler and I head out for our fun day at the hospital! (Jokes. Obviously I would have left her at home, mid pandemic and all, but it’s a scenic route and is next door to a fantastic park so… I dont!)
We are just on our way when I spot that Church is open for the food pantry. We don’t particularly need anything today but my friend is working so we pop in anyway. (I know, I know, non-essential … but you only stand in the doorway and there’s no one else there, so it seems low risk!) Besides which, we do rescue a bag of apples, bread and some Danish pastries that would otherwise end up in the bin- win!
Leaving there, it is now a bit too late to head to the nice park before my appointment, but too early to head to the hospital. So… we head back to the bakery instead, pick up some lunch and loiter by the canal to eat it. It’s a lovely day; we sit in a little metal boat, and I check the time. Lunch is gone but we are still too early to walk. I start thinking about what on earth we can do to kill the time, when I notice that Toddler is happy.
She’s talking to herself, playing boats. Just enjoying herself.
Enjoy her, I think. Sit back. Hang about.
The phone rings. It’s a friend we passed going into Church.
“Are you at home?”
“Ahhhh. Are you available?”
“Yeah, we are only round the corner. Just hanging about really!”
“Oh great! The thing is.. we’ve been locked in Church!”
“I know… the front gate is locked. My keys are in the van, I can unlock the van from here, but I need some trustworthy person to be near the van to get the keys out and pass them to me! If it’s not too much trouble-“
“We’re on our way!”
Jogging back to Church we are greeted with this:
And I can’t stop laughing! There’s alot of thank yous and sorrys, but I explain how much this has made my week.
“You know God has been speaking to me all week about the value of being available?! We were honestly just hanging about! And last night… last night we were praying Isaiah 58: which doesn’t just talk about being available, it talks about setting captives free!”
Just to add to it, she explains they were actually in there setting some stuff up for Christians Against Poverty- the charity that specialises in releasing people from debt. I mean, “you just couldn’t write it!” She laughs. (And I laugh too, because I will.)
With a new spring in my step, we make it to the hospital with five minutes to spare. We manage an hour at the park afterwards, and then an accidentally extra long walk to school.
At the end of the day, I’ve walked miles. I am absolutely exhausted and I dread to think what the chiropractor will have to say tomorrow, but I am happy. For in the midst of all of this, the Boy’s primary school teacher has also called to congratulate us on our polite, kind, helpful, bright and beautiful-hearted son; echoing the sentiments of the Eldest’s teacher just a week before. Emphatically, they tell us that our “delightful children” are “a credit to us“. Second time round, that’s pretty hard to pass off as a fluke. Could it be that despite my regular fears and parental angst, we must be getting something right?!
Husband has done his time inside and is finally allowed out in the wild!
We go to the park and it is lovely. I mean, I don’t intend to sound ungrateful in the slightest, but there is a huge shift in the stress-to-enjoyment ratio, when the parent-to-child ratio is also weighted in your favour! We take turns pushing her on the swings, we fuss over her dropped wellies and we watch one another play with her: heck, we almost look like first-timers and it’s absolutely fabulous!
Back at the school gates, I bump into yesterday’s prayer Mum and, as I’m sure you expected, she had her prayer answered last night. There’s still a way to go in the grand scheme of things, but the little bit we prayed for in the street has already come to pass.
At the end of the week, I am excited. I am happy. But most of all, I am content. Content to know that, despite all of this year’s uncertainty, God has made it clear to me that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
And that, my friends, is freeing indeed.
Thanks for reading xxxx