Saturday, 24 January 2015

What 'get dressed and clean your teeth' really means.

It's a regular occurrence in our house.  

When I say 'get dressed and clean your teeth', somehow this is translated into several different meanings in boy language.

So far, these are the translations I have observed:

'Go and find a nerf gun and shoot your brothers.'

'Do some balloon modelling.'

'Roll around on the floor, making farting noises.'

'Create new magic tricks.'

'Run in and out of your brother's bedroom to annoy him.'

'Hide and jump out on your brother to scare him.'

'Play loud music and dance around with no clothes on.'

'Suddenly remember you need to practice your guitar.'

'Study the world map on your bedroom wall.'

'Wee on the bathroom floor after realising it has been dry for far too long and may need watering.'

'Draw on your face.'

'Sit on your bedroom floor, whistling and staring vacantly.'

'Bang bedroom doors.'

'Stand outside the bathroom while your brother is doing a poo and make grunting and groaning noises in empathy.'

'Slide down the stairs in sleeping bags.'

One day I may manage to speak their language but for now I usually communicate with sign language.  

What translations have you discovered?

Friday, 16 January 2015

Shout Louder

There's a lot of shouting that goes on in my house.  Shouting from one room to the other (my pet hate), shouting in anger, shouting in celebration and the shouting of 'STOP SHOUTING' (I admit, that's my own ridiculous phrase).  It's a noisy place and sometimes I plead with them, and even bribe them, into being quiet.

I read about a man who shouted this week.  His name was Bartimaeus and he lived on the streets on the outskirts of Jericho.  Blinded when he was younger and without the NHS or Social Services to support him, he was reduced to living the hopeless life of a beggar.  Every day people walked past him and listened to his calls for help and every day they tossed a few coins into his hands.  But this wasn't the life Bartimaeus wanted to live.  He knew there must be more to life than this.

One day he heard a big crowd of dusty feet and chattering voices making their way into the city of Jericho. 

"What's going on?"  He called out.

"It's Jesus!  He's going to Jericho!"  The crowd replied.

Bartimaeus had heard of this Jesus.  He heard all sorts of things sitting along the side of the road, and word had travelled about all the healings and miracles Jesus had performed.  He'd even heard that Jesus didn't mind who he spoke to or touched!  Suddenly, inside, he felt hope taking hold of him.  He had to speak to Jesus.

"Jesus!"  He shouted.  "Help me!"

The crowd of people turned to Bartimaeus and hushed him.

"Shhhh," they called to him, "Don't disturb Jesus now.  He's on his way to important work in Jericho.  Be quiet!"

Bartimaeus was used to being treated like this.  People were quite happy to throw him some coins to appease their conscience, but they didn't want to have to actually speak to him.  He knew he was dirty and he could even smell himself.  He spent enough time sitting and pondering his life to know that he was not someone people wanted to associate with.  But he'd heard different things about this Jesus.  No, he wasn't going to shrink into the background anymore.  This was perhaps his only chance.  He took a deep breath of courage and shouted even louder.

"Jesus!  Help me!"

This time his shouts reached the ears of Jesus and he asked the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him.  Bartimaeus found himself in the arms of those who had just told him to be quiet.  It was a long time since anyone had touched him.  He trembled.  He had no idea what would happen next.

"What do you want me to do for you?"  Jesus asked him.

What?  Wasn't it obvious? 

Standing in front of the one who could change his life, Bartimaeus dared to tell Jesus exactly what he wanted.

"I want to see again."  He could barely make out the words. 

"Then, see!"  Jesus said.  "Your faith has healed you."

Bartimaeus opened his eyes and looked into the face of his Saviour.  Slowly his smile grew across his face and, as tears fell from his newly opened eyes, he decided there and then to follow this Jesus.  He had saved his life.

Bartimaeus was one courageous man.  He held on to hope and even when it was crushed, he shouted even louder.

Have you been told to be quiet?  Shout louder. 
Have you had your dreams crushed?  Shout louder. 
Are there things you would dare to ask Jesus if you could just speak to him?  Shout louder. 
Do you wonder if Jesus would ever associate with you?  Shout louder.
Have you been praying and asking for the same things for a long time?  Shout louder.
Are you facing impossible circumstances?  Shout louder.

Don't give up.

Jesus wants us to come to him and to ask him for the things he has put in our hearts, however impossible they seem to us.  Prayer is not a quiet, polite experience to make us feel good about ourselves, rather it is a weapon of warfare that moves God's hand and changes situations in the spiritual realms and in the world around us. 

I want to see God's kingdom of peace, joy, right-living, love and wholeness in our world today and I this year I am going to shout louder and shout harder.  I'm going to follow Bartimaeus's example and get myself to the ears of the one for whom nothing is impossible. 

Want to join me?

Friday, 2 January 2015

When dreams make us vulnerable

I may have mentioned this before, but I'm married to a dreamer.  My husband is one of those 'ten thousand ideas before breakfast' people.  He has new businesses, inventions, creative solutions to difficult problems, ideas of people to network with and ways to be a hero pulsating through his brain non-stop.  New Year is a perfect example of his well-intentioned dreaming.  One year he wrote down no less than 27 goals for the year.  Sometimes I roll my eyes at him and bring some reality ("No, I'm sorry, but you are not going to be able to meet the President today") but on the odd occasion, I allow myself to dream with him.

We're good at dreaming together.  It's even more exciting when we start to push on doors to see if our dreams can become a reality.  

But when we start to investigate our dreams, we become vulnerable.  In talking to people about our dreams and hearing their responses we feel like we are laying bare our hearts before them and asking them to understand us.  And they often don't.  Sometimes our dreams are trampled across with well-meaning reality.

A lifetime ago our wedding invitations were, very aptly, adorned with this quote from W.B Yeats' poem 'He wishes for the cloths of heaven':

I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Our dreams won't always become a reality.  They may take us in different directions which others don't quite understand.  They might cause us to make unusual decisions.  They sometimes make us look crazy.  We might live life with different priorities to other people.  We might parent our children in different ways because of them.  They make us vulnerable to ridicule.

But if we spread our dreams under your feet and lay our hearts bare before you, please tread softly because our dreams are fragile, precious and God-given and we need you to hold our hands as we tiptoe across and journey into them.