Friday, 18 December 2009

Ready for Christmas??

There is a pile of Christmas presents at my feet as I type, patiently expecting, nay, needing to be wrapped.
My insides are still trying to recover from a tenacious virus...
And my house is only just back up to an acceptably snug temperature after being refitted with a brand new central heating system.
I have a mountain of clean laundry to wade through in order to find something to wear every morning, and a backlog of dirty clothes waiting to be fed to our valiant washing machine, or 'pet' as my dear friend Sharon likes to refer to it...
My gas cooker has all but packed up and my tumble dryer is suffering from a chronic leak.

Which leads me to this nagging question, a question that has been plaguing me for the last coupe of weeks: am I ready??
I hear you ask.
'ER, HELLOOOOO?!?!?', I nearly reply.

And then, I stop and think.

Who cares?!?
Where's the fire?
What's the rush?
And anyway, where's this pressure coming from, to 'be ready' for Christmas...??

Who has written a law proclaiming that "ye shalt deck the halls with boughs of holly two weeks before Christmas"?
Why do I receive cards that say: "Merry Christmas from Tom, Dick and Harry Jones, Helen the goat and Jamie the goldfish"...
...No "dear" - or even "to" - to precede the 'season's greetings' on many of them...

I mean: why do people bother?! What is the point...? It makes me so cross; it all reeks of obligation, of duty, of reluctant compliance with Christmas 'etiquette'.

So that when I find myself sneaking a little personal message on each of the Christmas cards I eventually manage to send, I almost feel like a misfit, a rebel. But I like that! Because to me that is the whole point: I'm not interested in conforming for the sake of it, just to 'fit in'.

Don't get me wrong here. I LOVE decorating the house for Christmas, putting up twinkly lights, buying the presents, the yummy food, making, sending and receiving cards; I love Christmas!!!

What I hate is the pressure we put ourselves under to make it 'perfect', to make it 'just right'... To have the fairytale, picture-perfect, 'Hollywood' Christmas. A friend on Facebook (...and real life, yes...) said this:

"I see status updates about the stress of shopping, making and wrapping gifts and cards and am SO happy for the freedom of our decision of no gifts for anyone and cards for just the parents... we are enjoying the REAL spirit of Christmas SOOOO much this year!!! So fun. So free from obligations and stress. (Who needs another candle or bubble bath, anyway?? Just a waste of money to fulfil self-imposed obligations!)"

I want to do it my way - or rather, OUR way. I want us to create our own family traditions, make memories, and most important of all, help build a strong foundation of faith in our kids by putting Christ right bang in the centre of the whole thing. And that means that, yes I will refuse to be dictated to by the general western way of 'doing' Christmas.

Practically speaking, it looked like this for me today: all things considered, (see above!!) I decided to have a lazy morning, sitting on my bed with a cuppa, my Bible and notebook (oh, and before you start being impressed, or inspired by my oh-so-holy-and-perfect 'devotional life', let me assure you this is NOT a daily occurrence. Far from it... Not that I wouldn't want it to be. Glad I cleared that up. You're welcome.)
I had planned to write all my cards, wrap presents, start decorating the house so that I would feel more 'ready'. But do you know something? I felt so relaxed after spending some time with God, and I realised that the other stuff?

...It can wait! It might not be 'The Perfect Christmas', but I'll get there feeling far less stressed, and hopefully, with my heart in the right place. To welcome my Saviour again. To love Him, worship Him, and celebrate life, with Him.

Ultimately, that's all that matters.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Healing Walk

Yesterday I was in bed recovering from a vile tummy bug; I have never slept so much: all day and then all night... Boy I must've needed it!
Incidentally this tummy bug coincided with our entire central heating system being ripped out and replaced.
So this morning after (reluctantly) getting out of bed and driving the kids to their various schools, I really had no option but to escape. I would've much preferred another day in bed myself, but with a house full of tobacco-smoking, sweet-tea-drinking, gruff-sounding men I needed to get out.
So I headed for the coastal path and took a little 2-mile-long 'stroll'.

In the brisk, pre-winter, sea air.

A healing walk.

...I love those types of walks!

They are privileged times when, away from all 'worldly' distractions, I can really rediscover myself, and meet with God... And remember to focus on the bigger picture. And pray.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Though quiet, still here...

I can hardly believe we've been here nearly 2 months...!
It has rained for the past month, but it really hasn't stopped me from working hard at laying down foundations in this new place.
I'm digging deep, and trying to settle in; helping my boys to feel secure and safe at home - I think they know without a doubt that they are home where mummy and daddy are.
And I'm pretty sure they know that mummy and daddy are home when they are together, and wherever God is, too.
...So that's good, isn't it...?!

More soon.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

At the beach

I am having some chill-out time with my two younger boys at this beautiful secluded little beach...

One is climbing rocks

The other is throwing pebbles into the sea

And me?
I am breathing in the delicious briny air, letting the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore soothe away the stresses of the last few weeks.
And allowing my Father to cherish me.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Authentic Friendships by Rick Warren

"But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:7-8 NCV).

In Biblical fellowship, we should experience authenticity.

Authentic friendships are more than superficial, surface-level chit-chat. They involve genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing.

These friendships develop when we get honest about who we are and what is happening in our lives. They develop when we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.

Unfortunately, this level of authenticity and intimacy is the exact opposite of what we find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, we often become involved in pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. We begin to wear masks, keep our guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in our lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship.

It's only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The Bible says, "If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other . . . If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves" (1 John 1:7–8 NCV).

The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in God's light, we can bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.

Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection, and being hurt again.

Why would anyone take such a risk?

Because it's the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, "Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed" (James 5:16 MSG).

[I am posting this here because this issue is very verrrrrry close to my heart. Will write more on this later]

Friday, 23 October 2009

We Are Here!!

We have arrived in Devon. It was agonising saying goodbye to friends, and it seemed to go on forever! That, coupled with the relentless task of sorting through our 'junk' and packing it up into boxes, made the couple of weeks leading up to the move fairly traumatic and exhausting.
But that was over two weeks ago...
And we made it!!!
We're here!
In one piece.
The pain of leaving beloved friends behind is easing a little, I have to confess Facebook has been a has texting and calling. As has arranging our home, driving the kids to and from school, and being loved by my darling Mark.
Although it still feels alien and weird I'm beginning to love it here.
And life in the Westcountry is going to be good, I can just about see that now :)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Operation Devon: Moving - at last...

This is just a quick quick note, to say we are FINALLY moving, on Friday...!!!
It has been a roller-coaster.
I am not really ready, and don't particularly want the upheaval, or the heartache that comes with goodbyes.
But it is CLEARLY God's next step for us.
Which means I have to obey. And follow. And TRUST.

Next time I post here will be from our new home :)

Please would you pray for us? There has been MUCH opposition to this move, and we need protection as we finish off up here, and travel down there, and settle in; etc...
Thank you friends xxx

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Happy birthday darling one...!!

My beautiful Thomas has turned 7 today. I am so proud of him.
It is a tradition in our house to eat chocolate cake at breakfast on someone's birthday. So I made some cute little cupcakes late last night and there was 1 candle to blow out - in anticipation of the 7 we will have on a bigger cake tomorrow when daddy and grandparents have arrived...
He was sung to and looked pleased as punch...
Then he got down to the business of eating his cake
...with his brothers spurring him on and joining in.
The phone rang and he had a nice little conversation with Mamie and Bonpapa :) proudly announcing he was 'seven' (which he has only just learnt to say clearly)
Cards were opened
...and presents unwrapped...
..all in mummy's bed, because we could!!

Aaah, birthdays... I love them... Because I love celebrating life. Don't you?!!!

Catch up #3

So I had a birthday. In May. Yeah I know, that was nearly half a year ago!!
On this birthday I unashamedly (and 'officially, I suppose...) reached middle-age.
And Mr Wibbs and I decided a day-trip to the Queen's hometown was in order.
According to our 1890's horse-drawn-carriage driver, the royal standard was up meaning Her Majesty was home. But we just ran out of time and couldn't pay her a visit. Instead we took a ride on the Big Wheel of Windsor...
...where panoramic views were enjoyed by Mr Wibbs, Ben and yours truly...
Ben was awe-struck by the height we reached several times as the wheel went round and round; meanwhile, Mr Wibbs got up to his usual tricks
We had a lovely, lazy, sun- and laughter-filled day and Ben was a delight as ever, making my birthday even more special just being Ben
It was a special special day in which it goes without saying that chocolate cake was eaten
...and an amazing coffee machine bought as my birthday present
We ended the day with a romantic walk at sunset.
I know it was a while ago, but see? I still remember it all; and remembering brings me so much joy, and reminds me of how blessed and loved I really am.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Food for thought on giving (Purpose Driven Devotional for 28th August)

Spiritual Habits of Effective People: Tithing

(by Rick Warren)

“Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deuteronomy 14:23 LB).

We develop spiritual fitness when we honor God by giving him a tithe every week. Tithing is the spiritual habit of giving back to God the first 10 percent of all I make. If I make $100, I give $10 back to God; if I make $1000, I give $100 back to God. I get to keep 90 percent but I give 10 percent to him.

Why would anybody have to do that? Because God says so and that’s reason enough. If you don’t do it, you’re disobeying God. But there’s more reason. The reason I tithe is to draw me closer to God.

Jesus says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:21 NLT). If I put my money in a boat, that’s where my affection goes. Wherever I put my money, that’s what becomes important to me. If I put God first when it comes to my money, it says, “God, you’re first in my life.”

If you show me how you spend your time and how you spend your money, I’ll show you what’s important in your life. No matter what you say is important—show me your schedule and your checkbook stubs and I’ll tell you what’s really important to you.

Deuteronomy 14:23 explains that, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives” (LB). If I say, “God, I want you to be number one in my life,” but he’s last place in my budget, that’s a contradiction.

The Bible teaches that giving is an antidote to materialism. The materialism of the world says, “Get, get, get.” The only antidote is giving; we do just the opposite of what the world says. As I learn to hold things with an open hand and return the first part to God, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. It helps me develop the characteristics of God because “God so loved the world that he gave” (John 3:16). If you want to become like Jesus, you must learn to be a giver.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Catch up #2

What can a girl do when she is awake in the middle of the night...? Pray? Yes I will, but also reminisce about earlier months of this year. Just because I have some cool pics to post...
So lets see now.
February - Mr Wibbs moved down to Devon during possibly the snowiest week of the decade. To start his new job here... Pennywell farm; hoping it wouldn't be too long before his family joined him down there in the West Country.
(It would seem God had other plans, for whatever reason.)
We did make it down there for a couple of extended week ends, but mostly, Mark has been bravely trundling up and down the motorway on Saturday evenings, to rejoin his little family
Do daddy things
And take me to Prague for a couple of days
It's a pretty gorgeous city, even in the pouring rain...!
...oh yeah, Sam managed to sneak into one of our we took him along for the ride ;)
...and he also enjoyed the 5* hotel we booked into, courtesy of the groom, whose wedding we were there for, and whose best man was, of course, Mr Wibbs himself
(...doesn't he look dashing and oh-so-British in his top hat and morning suit...??!!!)
(the bride and groom)
And so we have been looking forward to the day when we can all be reunited as a family to enjoy Devon sunsets...