Tuesday, 27 February 2007
About a couple of week-ends ago we treated ourselves to a delightful day trip to the Isle of Wight, with some very special friends from church (Chris, Em, David, Hannah and Matthew, the lovely Russell family!) The next few photos are fairly self-explanatory, apart from the ones of my dear husband, for which I take no responsibility...he really ought to give you his own take on the special brand of "nuttiness" on display here, maybe in his own blog one day (hint hint...)?!?! It's only fair, after all.
We do find it a drag sometimes, but the good times more than make up for all the tough stuff. And, in the midst of it all, all I can do is confess that my God is Good.
Monday, 19 February 2007
And the issue is simply this: how do we get rid of our 'churchy jargon', and start talking about our beliefs in ways which 'Joe Bloggs' will U.N.D.E.R.S.T.A.N.D and be able to relate to?!?!?!
As a church intern (very part-time at the moment I hasten to add...), I meet with other interns and our "Intern Programme Leader" - Lynn - on a Monday, to pray, study the Bible and discuss various aspects of church life and of ministries that we're each involved in. We are currently studying the book of Romans, and are grappling, and struggling with terms such as 'righteousness', 'justification', 'atonement', 'circumcision', 'salvation', 'law', 'sin' and so on! Now my problem is that I kind of understand what these words mean, with a huge emphasis on 'kind of'!! But I find myself increasingly passionate about scrapping any big, complicated religious words which would put off most people from ever going anywhere near the church or the Bible.
With that in mind, how do I start to understand these words well enough to be able to explain their meaning in simple, short words, which will make sense to anyone, and especially the mums I hang out with at the school gate, my non-christian friends, the people on the streets that we go out to feed and serve, as a housegroup, every other thursday...etc etc.
(To be continued...)
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
- God: raw, messy, painful, sacrificial love - passionate, all-encompassing, ultimate, perfect love - beautiful, awesome, intimate love. What more can I say? "God, I love you; my God, I worship you; forever thankful, I am yours, forever"
- Marriage: real love=forgiveness when it least suits me; submission, respect, obedience; serving him when I feel like serving only 'self'. Real love=love which is alive and grows, and gets better and deeper the longer we are married. Real love=intimacy in ways which go far beyond the world's understanding of the word... Real love=unity, harmony, being 'one'. Real love is, a lot of the time, a CHOICE!
- Kids: loving Samuel, Thomas, Benjamin is completely overwhelming, and unconditional. This is a reality for me: nothing any of them has done, does, or will ever do, will make me love them more or less... (Sound familiar?!?!) Loving my kids is sometimes (most of the time if I'm truly honest) a sacrificial act of worship.
- Wider family and friends: love here is about giving as much of myself away as I feel God would ask me to. Transparency, honesty, integrity, and servanthood are again prime ingredients necessary for loving well.
- My 'Neighbour': physical neighbours, as well as others around me, those who I know but not well, those who do not know God, and whose understanding of Jesus is limited. To love my neighbour=to give, serve, to welcome into my home, to accept...and much more
- My 'Enemies': ...I'm still working on that one - no-one is perfect! I'm not sure how to do this... Who are my enemies? I mean, I'm not being asked to love Satan, obviously. So I presume this means loving people who I find unpleasant, difficult, unlovable. Loving those who hate me, dislike me or simply don't get me, those who hurt me, and give me nothing. In which case, love here must be first and foremost about forgiveness, surely?
- The World: "in the World but not of it" - I love God's creation, and feel increasingly challenged to make sure that is reflected in the way I live my life, by respecting the environment, eco-systems, natural food-chains, etc... But also, I have a growing desire to see God's Kingdom come, his Will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. And I'm sure that is God's transforming, redeeming love in me!
- Myself: I am realising that, the more I know myself, the more I love myself, and that "we love (...)because He first loved us" also applies to me loving myself. This is not me being narcissic and vain, but just living in the revelation that God cherishes my whole being, and the freedom that this revelation in turn brings. He sings over me. I am His child. I am Loved!!!! Whatever others think of me, it is a fact that I AM LOVED. And that I am not my own, I have been bought at a price, and I belong to the most loving One of all.
I feel a bit miffed. This week Sam has been off school on 'half-term'.
AAANNND: Thomas is off school all next week when Sam goes back...
You'd think they would have the sense to make school holidays coincide for my children, but I have a feeling my kids' local authorities (they are in two separate counties...) have decided to conspire against me. It's probably in my best interest, somewhere, but this just feels like running a marathon as opposed to a sprint: which is more painful?? For me the holidays dragging on for two weeks instead of a short sharp burst is a bit like having my feet tickled for substantially longer than is strictly necessary; it's nice for a little while but it very rapidly becomes unbearable!!
I must apologise to everyone: I know I haven't posted on here for a while, and the first thing I come out with is a 'grump'.
But I needed to get this off my chest, and now I've done that, I can move on a little...and say that, actually, it's been really nice spending some real quality time with Samuel without him having to compete with Thomas for my attention. Then next week I'm really looking forward to spending some quality, uninterrupted time with my Thomas - this doesn't happen much any more, because Samuel tends to suck every ounce of 'quality time' out of me!!
I will say one thing though. One of the down sides of having Samuel around a lot this week has been a considerable lack of privacy...particularly when I'm off to the little girl's room - or getting dressed! He's just THERE. The whole time. Urgh.
...Which reminds me: I've got this brilliant little essay on how it's actually OK for Mum to take herself off to have a bath...here; have a look :) I have to keep focusing on the fact that I won't be much good to my kids if I don't allow myself a little bit of time out once in a while, even if it's in the toilet!!
On that note, .......
Thursday, 8 February 2007
These photos were taken just this morning! What fun we all had - although Ben wasn't too sure... I think this is the deepest snow we've ever had here: about 3 or 4 inches. And now it's raining, meaning the little snow we do have will turn to slush in very little time :-( Still, we well and truly made the most of it. Sam's school was shut, as were most schools throughout the county; pathetic Brits that we are, the whole nation comes to a standstill when the weather turns unpredictable!! Some things never change...
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Those of you who know us know that as well as Thomas who has Down's Syndrome, we have Samuel who also has 'special needs'. He has a well-known, very common condition called ADHD, which was only diagnosed a couple of months ago, although I've known ever since he was a small toddler that all was not as it should be with our firstborn! Since his diagnosis Mark and I have been attending a fairly intensive parenting programme every Tuesday night, and so far, the results have been pretty astonishing!!
And I just wanted to share something that has just happened, an example of some small changes we are witnessing in Samuel's behaviour, to testify that a) it is good and worthwhile to invest time in doing a parenting course, and that b) the Lord is working, he cares and he is intimately involved in the whole parenting process. To Him be the Glory!!
I had been feeling really irritable and quite fed up, since I picked Sam up from school this afternoon. I was getting far too easily wound up by the slightest little thing. I spent a lot of time baking with Sam, enthusiastically reading books with the 3 of them, cooking their dinner, cleaning the kitchen (or vaguely trying to create a semblance of order therein), and constantly monitoring Benji who is into literally E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G... Then supervising 'feeding time at the zoo', with the 3 whining one after the other that they didn't want this, didn't like that, wanted this, couldn't eat that,... all the while shouting and making random, irritating noises, continually.
You get the picture.
Then out of nowhere, completely unprompted, Samuel said: "I love you mummy"!!
And then, a bit later he said: "Thank you for a really nice meal, I enjoyed that"... !!!!!
He has never, ever, ever thanked me for anything like this before!!!!
And my heart just went 'ziiingggg'!! In one instant, all the irritation of the past 2 hours melted away. I actuallty felt quite choked up... Moments such as this are to be treasured; this one will certainly go down in Wibberley history as a landmark event. And for it I am truly thankful.
Sunday, 4 February 2007
Thank you muchly, Debs ;)
Not sure I'm up to it, my brain feels very mushy right now, tiredness and busy-ness being the prime suspects as always.
But I'll try do my best; here goes...
A- Available or married? Married, most definately!
B- Best Friend? I have never really had any one best friend, rather have had a few incredibly close friends for every stage of my life. Amongst my best friends I must mention my lovely Mark, my Mum, Tonny, Jo, Julia and Sarah. I am truly blessed with friends, and it is just as well, seeing as I would be really quite miserable and lonely without them.
C- Cake or Pie? Cake, cake, cake... I love pie too, but it's more of an effort to make, and eat I find. Pie is definately to be consumed at pudding time, with lashings of cream and custard!Whereas cake is for any time of day, and for me is ultimate comfort, 'coming home' type food.
D- Drink of Choice? Tea...To go with cake?! Nothing quite like a good 'cuppa'!!!!
E- Essential Item? (My Bible is to me as essential as my underwear and my toothbrush, so I don't see the need to expand on its 'essential-ness' as it is a given) - ooooh, let's see: that would have to be my earplugs.
F- Favorite Colour? Blue - all shades thereof.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? What kind of a question is that?!?!?! Neither, thank you!!
H- Hometown? I guess this is about where my home is now, to which the answer is: (near) Reading, Berkshire, England. The place where I grew up is called Coye-la-Foret, near Chantilly, in the Oise Department of the north of France.
I- Indulgence? Eating through a whole tub of Haagen Dazs strawberry cheesecake ice-cream in one sitting, while watching a soppy movie, in my Pyjamas, on the sofa, all cosily wrapped up in a big fat duvet...
J-January or February? February - cos it's that little bit closer to summer!
K- Kids & names? Samuel, Thomas and Benjamin - and Mark...
L- Life is incomplete without? Jesus, Mark, Samuel, Thomas and Benjamin, the rest of my family and my lovely friends
M-Marriage Date? 13.07.96
N- Number of Siblings? Mmmm. That's always a painful question...I will say no more, just scour previous posts for answers.
O- Oranges or apples? Apples, when I'm feeling lazy, oranges when I'm feeling fat/ill
P- Phobias/Fears? As a Christian, the following shouldn't even figure but I guess I might as well be honest: I'm terrified of death... I am also quite claustrophobic, and H.A.T.E snakes!
Q-Favourite Quote? From Forrest Gump: "That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going." I love 'Forrest Gump'!!
R- Reason to Smile? I am loved.
S- Season? Spring, season of new life, of colour, and of my birthday - which is the 11th May by the way :)
T- Tag three people! Paul (payback time, sorry), Em, and Lydia
U- Unknown fact about me : I am utterly, perfectly, completely, totally bilingual in French and English (NB: that's not me boasting; to me it's no big deal...). I also speak German, a bit of Italian, and understand Spanish and Dutch.
V- Very rare to be that bilingual, from what I understand!!
W- Worst habit? Picking my nose...(that's what comes of living in a household of boys on a permanent basis)
X- x-treme, x-cessive, x-ceedingly good: that's God's lavish love and grace in my life...
Y- Your favourite food? Depends on my mood. Love a good curry, indian or thai; that is, in fact, my most favourite food, mostly. Although that is closely followed by Soup.
Z- Zodiac? Eeeeeeeeek.....Hate anything to do with that 'stuff'!!
There, that's me done. Better get off this thing before Mark has a fit.
Saturday, 3 February 2007
And today is glorious. The sun is out and has melted away any frosty clouds that might have been hanging around, to leave a spotless crisp bright-blue sky in their place. The birds are singing their little hearts out and the daffodils are tentatively making their way out, with a promise that soon, colour will return to the world! It's as if, slowly, gently, the whole of creation is awakening once again to the hope and beauty of spring, and praising its Creator...I'm reminded of this wonderful Matt Redman song we sung at the conference a few days ago: