Monday, 18 January 2016
Apologies to all you dog lovers out there, but I am not one of you. I do not like dogs and I find the fascination with them completely unfathomable. I'm also a teensie bit scared.
Walking to school a few weeks ago I was leapt upon and viciously attacked by a fearsome wolf. Ok, it was an Alsatian who jumped at me and bit my coat. Had I not used my well practised super-ninja-mother-of-boys-moves, those sharp teeth would have sunk their way into my leg. I was shaken up and arrived home to have a good sob on Toby's shoulders. (It was one of those rare moments when you see a glimpse of the man they are becoming. It was a good glimpse.)
Time travel forwards a few weeks (you mean you don't time travel?) and you will find a puffed out me half running behind Jonah on his new bike. Just beyond us on our path is another Alsatian.
Jonah looks at me as I wonder how to navigate this drooling obstacle. I decide to be brave and keep walking.
But my sweet and thoughtful boy surprises me by climbing off his bike and pushing it so that he is between me and the dog.
"I'm protecting you, Mum." He explains as my heart melts just a little bit more.
"Well thank you," I reply. "But really I should be protecting you."
"Oh no," he smiles at me, "if the dog is going to bite someone's leg off then I would rather it was mine than yours."
"I don't think it is going to bite anyone's leg off, but if it does then really I would rather it was mine." I know I'm right - that's what a good mother should do.
"Yes but if your leg is bitten off then you won't be able to cook my tea or make me snacks or do my washing or any of the other jobs you do."
Ah. Now we get to the crux of the matter. He wasn't protecting me, after all!
Eight year old boy logic at it's very best.
And this, dear readers, is one of the many reasons I love boys.
Saturday, 9 January 2016
This sign hangs over our new (ok, we've been here 6 months but it's still new to us) dining room.
And last night the room was full of 15 people, eating and celebrating. Friends who have known each other for years and some brand new ones too.
We had a reason to celebrate too (although this isn't always necessary, as those of you who have been in my kitchen when one of my 'tunes' comes on will know). Last night we were celebrating the journey of two friends who have been on an incredible journey of finding beauty in ashes and hope in the midst of despair. We'll call my friends Beauty and The Chef. Oh yes, food is important!
And to tell their story, I need to start with a confession of my own. I used to be scared of Beauty and The Chef. I often saw them walking to school at the same time as me. Their children were in the same school as mine. I didn't know them. I didn't know how thoughtful, generous and downright fun they were. So I was scared. Too scared to even say hello.
But one day they arrived with their five children at our church gathering, having been invited by someone else. And slowly but surely I overcame my fear and got to know them. What a treat I had been missing!
This last year has been a tough one for our friends. Drugs, fear, financial difficulties and anxiety have threatened to overcome them. Last August, after the drugs had attempted one last kick of death, The Chef made the incredibly brave decision to go into rehab. It would mean leaving Beauty and all the children for up to one year, sometimes with no contact at all. It was a now or never moment and I had enormous admiration for them both at the courage they displayed.
Five months later, The Chef is not only drug free but is also off all his medication. Beauty has had her own triumphs in single handedly parenting the children. And we have watched them blossom. We have witnessed their love for one another grow and have stood to the side cheering them on as they have claimed each small victory. We have seen their hearts soften and watched God bring immeasurable healing as he has gently loved them, spoken to them and treasured them. We have watched their eyes being opened to how awesome their Father God really is. We have seen them become part of our family. And we will continue to walk with them as they carry on the long road ahead.
The Chef now comes home at weekends and sometimes even stays overnight. So, last night, we filled our home with people who love Beauty and The Chef. We ate We laughed. We told stories. We celebrated.
And I looked around, at my dining room full of friends and food, standing in awe of our God who truly redeems situations, transforms lives and gives beauty instead of ashes. Beauty and The Chef are trophies of God's grace and the privilege was all ours to host a celebration of changed hearts and lives.
Hope House was full to the brim of hope. And it gave me shivers for what is to come.
Friday, 1 January 2016
I'm not a big fan of the New Year celebrations. Despite the never ending unknowns in our family life and the resulting excitement when the next step is (finally) made clear, I happen to dislike not knowing what is going to happen next. I'm a planner and when I don't know the plan it makes me feel uncomfortable which occasionally edges it's way into panic. This year the unanswered questions (these are my worst kind of 'unknowns' - the ones where you know there has to be an answer but you have no idea what it will be) have dragged at my heels, threatening to floor me.
What will happen to my job once the funding runs out in March?
How will I find a new job which fits in with our family?
Am I even meant to find a new job or am I supposed to be more available for other things?
How are we going to afford to fix the many things that need fixing in this house?
What have we let ourselves in for with this house?
How are we going to find a model that works and is replicable with all that we want to do in this house?
How on earth did we think this was going to actually work with a family to think about?
How will we even pay the mortgage if I don't have a job?
When are we going to have our first lodger?
How will our family adjust to said lodger?
Have we made a massive mistake?
You see. My mind is unkind to me sometimes. Especially in the middle of the night.
But last night, I woke up and looked at my clock. The time was 3:33am. And in our house, we have a saying about those numbers. '333 is God's phone number' because in Jeremiah 33:3 it says this:
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
And there are so many things I do not know. I have no answers. But I used that phone number in the middle of the night and I called out to the One who has all the answers. He knows all the things I don't know.
This is where faith gets down and dirty. It's easy to have faith when everything drops in your lap. It's easy to believe when you can see how it's all going to pan out. But what about when you can't see and you don't know the answers or even have the resources? That's the nitty gritty of faith. A faith which can't see but trusts the One who can. A faith that battles to keep it's gaze on the One who holds the resources in his hands instead of on the water leaking through the ceiling. A faith that gives the little of what we have and trusts for it to be multiplied.
The questions aren't silenced. The nights are still the battleground of anxiety. The unknowns are still looming somewhere ahead. But faith chooses to keep walking forwards when all I can see is fog. Faith chooses to remember all that has gone before. Faith chooses to fight the anxiety with truth.
Faith is never an easy option. Faith is a choice and, this year, it's what I'm choosing.