God Picked up the Pieces.

Preparing for a presentation on the presence of God in relation to the tabernacle in Exodus I came across this quote buried in Childs’ Exodus commentary (which incidently I’d recommend for any preachers and teachers of Exodus if you have access to a good library, or can pick it up second hand – especially the OT context, NT context and theological implications sections).

“Then again the story of the golden calf has found a place in scripture as a testimony to God’s forgiveness.
Israel and the church have their existence because God picked up the pieces.
There was no golden period of unblemished saintliness.
Rather the people of God are from the outset the forgiven and restored community.
There is a covenant – and a new covenant – because it was maintained from God’s side.
If ever there was a danger of understanding Sinai as a pact between partners,
the rupture of the golden calf made crystal clear that the foundation of the covenant was,
above all, divine mercy and forgiveness.

I love the line “Israel and the church have their existence because God picked up the pieces”.  It’s a great one sentance summary of the gospel, and its a great starting point for our expectations of church life.  We are a mess that God is in the business of putting back together.  We don’t get swept away like a broken glass. We get picked up and repaired.  Picked up and moulded into a new creation that reflects Jesus in a broken world.  We constantly get it wrong.  And yet God’s mercy and forgiveness remain for all who turn back to him and ask to put back together and made new once more.

God picked up the pieces.

Forgiveness Unlimited…

This is the, now traditional, post sermon blog post with the “full script” – the actual sermon was slightly different at both services, but this was close.  Two books which have useful material on the subject of forgiveness are “Total Forgiveness” by RT Kendall, and “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” by Philip Yancey.

“How often must I forgive my brother?” Must I forgive that again? I’m sure that you can fill in the blanks from that sentence, and think of particular situations to which that applies.

We’ll see that Jesus answer is that his disciples must forgive without limits, because we have a compassionate and merciful God who forgives us without limits whose forgiveness in turn demands that we forgive others. Therefore, concludes Jesus, we must forgive each other from the heart, or else we do not live in the world of God’s forgiveness.

We’ll unpack Jesus’ answer a little more now. First
Jesus’ disciples must forgive without limits.
Peter’s question comes following Jesus teaching his disciples about how to deal with sin in a fellow member of the church – the local group of disciples seeking to follow Jesus.
So presumably this is in Peter’s mind. How many times should this happen? How many times should a sinner be forgiven? How many times should this process be gone through?

Peter’s answer of 7 is reasonably generous – the Jewish teachers around that time said 3 times. Jesus’ answer turns the question upside down. Not 7 times, but 70 7 times. It is possible to argue about whether this means 77 or 490. But that is rather missing the point. The point is that forgiveness is unlimited. 7 is a complete whole – 70 times more than that is beyond all limits. To have a check list of how many times we have been sinned against, to tick off 77 so that on number 78 we do not forgive is to miss the point.

This is not to say that forgiveness is easy. In this context we are talking about sin within the community of believers, and we are talking about forgiveness when someone has made some move towards apologising and seeking to put things right.

There is a whole other discussion based around what happens when someone sins against us and never seeks forgiveness. There I think, we must be ready somehow not to hold it against them, and to be ready to forgive if forgiveness is ever sought,
but I do not think we need to go round telling people we have forgiven them if they have never asked for that forgiveness.

Having said that, it is still very sadly the case, that even within the church there is room for massive injury to be done to us by others, and for us to do to others, and that there may well be times when we are called to forgive something that seems really hard to ever forgive. It does need to be remembered that personally forgiving someone who has committed a crime against us does not stop us playing our part in the judicial process which will convict and punish them of the crime, and take appropriate measures to protect others from their crime.

Think of the school teacher recently, in the news for amazing forgiveness – still important to testify. Does mean that we leave the outcome it in God’s hands, and his instrument – government and police, rather than personal vengeance and vendettas.

Also forgiveness is not to be used to cover up sin, but to deal with the personal impact of sin. And at that personal level Jesus disciples’ must forgive without limits however hard it is – and so Jesus tells the story to show us why and how.

The first part of the parable tells us to Forgive because God is a compassionate lord, who forgives beyond limits.
We forgive, because God is a compassionate Lord, who forgives beyond limits. This is another one of Jesus’ parable which tells us what life in his kingdom is like. As with last week we see a King who is settling the accounts, and this time there is a servant who owes him a lot of money.

10,000 bags of gold we heard. One bag of gold (talent in other versions), is worth something around 15-20 years wages for a working labourer in that day. So 10,000 of these is a lot of money. It is the highest numerical unit in that culture – 10,000 multiplied by the largest unit of money. If you work it out in equivalents today, assuming a talent is 15 years wages for an average working person you get £3 billion or so. It is an unimaginable debt that an individual can never hope to repay.
Think of the anger a few years ago when the scale of the banking crisis became apparent, and the scale of the mislending. To get this high into debt the servant had to have been that foolish somewhere along the way. There has been unimaginable folly to get into this situation.

And so on hearing his sentence, a standard punishment for debtors throughout history
he begs for time, he begs for patience. He begs to be allowed to repay.

And just like the Father in the prodigal son, the King in the story has compassion. He feels compassion deep within him – the word is not talking about feeling a little bit sorry or concerned for someone, nor is it talking about a patronising sense of superiority –
rather it is talking about the gut wrenching (the word is related to the internal organs) sense of sorrow over another’s pitiful state, a sense of sorrow that always leads to action. Look up the word in the gospels and see that it is compassion that motivates Jesus time and again. And then notice how the Lord forgives the debt – doesn’t just give more time, he gives a complete reprieve.

Jesus puts us in the position of this servant (we’ll see that at the end). We owe an unimaginable debt because of our sinful actions, thoughts and deeds. We place ourselves at the centre, and our self-centredness, our inward focus leads us to lives of sin. We deserve punishment. We do not deserve to be counted as God’s servants. And yet – we serve a God who has compassion and forgives without limits.

No-one who casts themselves on God’s mercy is ever turned away. God is utterly and totally good. There is no shadow of turning with him. This can be relied on. We can always come back to God. Always cast ourselves on his mercy. “We do not presume…”
Forgiveness marks the King of God’s Kingdom – and so it must mark the citizens too.

That is fantastic news. That is unimaginable joy. My sin can be forgiven. All of it. In an instant. By the creator of the universe. But there is a sting in the tale of Jesus’ story.
That forgiveness with which I am forgiven is not about me being given a ticket to heaven,
an escape route from here and now.
No, the forgiveness with which I am forgiven is to transform my life here and now,
so that here and now I live as a citizen of that kingdom, marked by the forgiveness of that kingdom. Because Jesus goes on:

We must forgive from the heart because not forgiving makes God angry
This next section highlights the hypocrisy of the servant. He goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes 100 denarii, and launches himself on him – seizing and choking him –
now, 1 denarius is, according to the parable of the labourers a day’s wage, so, it is not a small amount of money. A few thousand pounds in today’s terms. So he wants it back – perhaps understandably.

Then look at v29 – this fellow servant repeats exactly the plea of the first servant – “be patient with me, and I will repay”. It should echo in the first servants ears. But his response is so different to that of the master. To throw the fellow servant into prison. That will teach him. Justice has to be done after all – he can’t go round running up debts… Except, coming from the man who has just been forgiven an unimaginable debt it doesn’t convince.

So with us, our forgiveness sometimes takes a vast amount of effort because we have been badly hurt in one way or another. But, in the story, compared to the amount of debt the servant has been forgiven it is tiny. In general terms that is how we are to think of forgiveness.

God has forgiven us so much, that surely we can forgive one who calls for mercy on us. If we have seen our own brokenness and need of forgiveness, and the generous compassion of God then we will forgive. If we cannot forgive, we must ask God to show us more clearly our need for forgiveness and his great compassion.

The fellow servants see. They are distressed. Their grief, the word is used for genuine sorrow in the rest of the NT. This isn’t a fake concern, this isn’t a scoring points issue.
This is a sorrow that reflects the compassion of the master. And so they take it to the master. They go to him.
In passing that’s pretty good advice for the first step in any conflict – go to Jesus, and tell him about it first. Here the master takes action. He is angry. First we saw his compassion, now we see his anger. Anger at someone else not being shown mercy.
Tells you a lot about someone – “what makes you angry?” His question to the servant is revealing – the master had mercy – he expects the servant to show mercy in response.
The behaviour of Jesus’ followers should reflect Jesus’ character. Truly receiving God’s forgiveness should lead us to forgive others.

Not forgiving others makes God angry. It brings exclusion from God’s kingdom. The punishment is worse than the original, demonstrating how angry God is at unmercy. And we could shrug this off as just part of the story except for what Jesus says next – v35. This is how God will deal with us, if we do not forgive from the heart.
Not forgiving invites God to not forgive us – you can count to 77, or 490 if you like – but only if you want God to do the same and I’m pretty sure I’ve reached 490.

Matthew’s gospel contains a number of warnings from Jesus’ lips about the dire consequences of looking like one of Jesus followers for a while, yet being shut out of Jesus’ kingdom. It is right to talk about Jesus’ acceptance of us. But that acceptance must lead us to change. Being forgiven by God should transform us. Knowing that we deserve nothing, but that he chooses to forgive freely should soften our hearts so that we are willing to forgive others.

God’s grace not only saves us from punishment, it transforms us in the here and now.

Therefore, Jesus emphasises, we are to forgive without limits, from the heart. We are to be a community of forgiveness and grace. So what does this mean for us in practice in church life. Be ready to say sorry, and to forgive. When we forgive say so. If someone apologises, then say “I forgive you”. There is wonderful power in that declaration. Roz and I want our children to learn that in their interactions. We try and practice it in our marriage – that when one of us needs to apologise the other needs to reach the point of being able to say “I forgive you”.

It should be that way in church too. We should be ready always to forgive from the heart. Is there someone here today you need to forgive? Is there someone you need to say sorry to.? Very often when we know someone has sinned against us, we have played our part too, and need to offer our apology – part of forgiveness is not waiting.
We are about to share the peace. Before we do that, why not take a minute two to see if there is anyone God would have you forgive today, someone you need to be reconcilled to this day.

PRAY

 

speaking the goodness of God into the silence

Silence is something I treasure, especially now that I am a mum of three little ones. Silence lets me attend to my soul, to the world around me, to the mysterious workings of God. Being silenced is another matter altogether and I realised that was exactly what was happening to me this week. Not the best week for it to happen when one is preparing to preach twice on Sunday for the first time in a while.

But in the silence of my evening strolls walking our youngest to sleep I have had time to see how God is at work in a painful reawakening of a season of my life through a quick comment made in all innocence on facebook with no awareness of the writer (a friend) to the very different words I would have used to describe the situation he was describing.

There are not many things I am more passionate about than the faithful teaching of God’s incredible living word and as I began to perpare for this coming Sunday on the passage of Matthew 20:1-16 I prayed as I do in preparation of teaching that God would first make His word alive and real in my heart before I share it. And He did, as I considered the question that is at then end of the parable where the landowner asks the grumbling workers if they are envious because he is generous. We were in the process of wondering where we would live and I had a deep longing to move but God was at work and we are staying in our home for the next year while we draw breathe and I can honestly say I am at peace with it. Mark might be getting slightly concerned at this level of peace and its implications for our bank balance as I appear home every so often with something new from our wonderful charity shop in the village to make it fill more like home and have plans for the garden. And once I came to this place of peace I thanked God that he had answered my prayer even if I had wrestled with him in the process wondering at times when I saw the way things were going to work out why I had offered that prayer at all and made mental notes not to in future.

But God was not done with bringing his word alive in my soul, but this week it has taken on a whole new level. I had enjoyed preparing the passage and was feeling confident about the way the sermons (same passage but two very different styled services with two different time allocations for preaching) were coming together. Then on Monday I read the aforementioned friend’s facebook comment and it immediately unsettled me and stirred up many painful memories. I tried to bat it off, it was not a comment directed at me in any way, it was simply a passing statement but their experience and mine of the same place are poles apart and the silencing came back in torrents as there was no way to respond. I also have found myself battling with my sermon preparation feeling the silence creeping into that two. That preaching was not something I could do, which has been in contradition to many other voices in my life but they too have been silenced.

Matthew 20, the parable of the workers in the vineyard speakings about God’s generous and lavish grace which he distrubutes as he chooses and the challenge to us to celebrate with others rather than begrudge them God’s blessing. But this week as I have continued to sit with this passage I have been struck by the need to trust in the goodness of God, in order to celebrate his grace, which Jesus speaks to in the proceeding passage when speaking to the rich young man who is trying to do good acts and Jesus reminds him that there is only One who is good, not because God does good things but because it is who he is.

God has been drawing me into that truth this week as I have found myself back through memories in a season of my life I would rather not remember. God has been asking me to trust that he is good alongside the reality of what took place within his church and what was supposedly done in his name and for the gospel. What happend was the work of church leaders not God. God was and is good, those men like me mess up, get things seriously wrong, need the cross, need forgiveness and need his grace. That is where the parable in Matthew 20 takes me after the statement Jesus makes to the rich young man that there is only One who is good. I need to let God be at work in those men too redeeming their stories and extending them grace.

God has been asking me to trust him and his goodness in all this this week.  That has not been easy and will not be sorted and dealt with over night but healing can come for all of us if we enter into silence rather than being silenced. And God is not asking me to sort it out over night thankfully. And as I think about it God was planting the seed for this work a few weeks back when a friend on hearing my story said that I was not responsible for the way things happened. Others have said it in the past but I think this was a seed sown for this work as it has got in under my skin. Church and I have never got along well and there have been more tearing apart as I have left. I felt those times must have been my fault as I was the common denominator but Mark and this friend would not accept that as my response. The actions of others is not my responsibility and in the moments my response to walk was always the right one. Remaining in a place of harm is not an option, sadly I found myself there more times than I care, thankfully only once to the extremes I journeyed through in one church. Wrestling with passages like the one I am preaching this weekend is my responsibility and listening to God as he works His word out first also is and responding to his word is.

I would rather that spiritual abuse was not part of my journey, a litter of agonising church endings is not something I take delight in as I look back over my past. But spiritual abuse is part of my story, one that has been silenced but I am not alone and I want to be a voice for those who are still being silenced. It has taken me more than 10 years to reach this place where I can separate the actions of church leaders from the nature of the One who is good.

ps; to the church leaders I have known who are being faithful servants sorry for the mistrust I have had. It has never been my intention to mistrust or question or doubt but those of us who walk this road can often do little else if we are going to enter the doors of church at all. We come with our mistrust or we don’t come at all.

Jehosaphat (Part I)

This morning I read our eldest the story of Jehosaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  I’ve always had a soft spot for Jehosophat, and not simply because his name is Elijah Baley’s favourite swear word (you need to be an Asimov SF fan to get that reference).  He is one of the few “good kings” of Judah.  He’s not a “really good king” – he still lets the people worship at high places, and is rather too ready to ally with Ahab’s Israel (much to the detriment of his own family), but his heart is at least in the right place – he himself is loyal to the LORD,

The story starts like this:

“After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.
Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi).
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”
(2 Chronicles 20:1–4 ESV)

Jehosaphat is afraid.  Being an earnest follower of the LORD does not remove fear.  But he knows who is really in charge (which is kind of appropriate, since Jehosaphat means something like “The LORD rules/judges/delivers”).  So he does what he is supposed to do, he calls all the people together to seek help from the LORD, indeed to seek the LORD.  What are the challenges we face?  What are the challenges as a church?  What is our first response?  How rarely mine is to seek the LORD – yet that is what we need to do.  If our church faces a crisis our first response should be prayer.  Only then should we turn to strategies.  It’s why I was a bit hesitant to read about the CofE’s new plans for growth, inspired by various business leaders.  It’s not that planning for growth and changing dead structures is bad – the church needs to do lots of it, but what I missed was the call to prayer that needs to go with it and before it.  I trust that those involved prayed, and prayed lots.  But I think the church as a whole needs to be called to prayer.  I also know that I need to be called to prayer.  I need to seek help from the LORD.

Then we get Jehosaphat’s prayer

“And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.””
(2 Chronicles 20:5–12 ESV)

Here Jehosaphat goes back to the LORD, and he prays.  Here is the King doing what he should do.  He builds a case before God, based on God’s rule, and God’s power and God’s concern for his people.  He reminds God of the purpose of the temple, to be a sanctuary for God’s name.  To be a place where God’s character is known and displayed.  And since God’s character is one of unlimited grace and mercy he knows he is on solid ground as he prays.  Finally he draws the attention of God to the immediate threat – that word “behold” sounds archaic, but it would be better translated as “Look!” or “Pay Attention!” in this case.

Finally the one whose name means “The LORD judges” prays “LORD will you not judge them?”  Jehosaphat knows that the LORD has to act, because he is powerless. Judah is in a corner, and with words that echo into every hopeless situation, and every desperate cry prays “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” – we are looking to you to act, because we do not know what to do.  Those words echo in my heart as I struggle to finish off a PhD, and then we face an utterly uncertain future.  We do not know what to do.  We do not know how to do it.  May our eyes be on Him. This is the prayer for when we do not know what to pray.  We simply lay out the situation before God and say “Help: we don’t know what to do, but we are looking to see what you will do.”

In a future post at some other point when I need a break from PhD rewriting and editing I will post the LORD’s response – or you could just go and read it now. I promise it will be worth the read…

reflections on our home learning journey 39

I cannot believe we are 39 weeks along this journey. Tonight I am feeling out of my depth though as a mum watching Bob wrestle with some hard choices and consequences and the discovery that mummy cannot fix everything. I knew I couldn’t do everything but it has been easy to deny or avoid that fact while your children still believe fully in you. But today Bob’s curiosity of a how a much loved new toy worked led to the toy being taken apart but sadly it is unable to be rebuilt to a fully working standard again. He pleaded with me to fix it saying ‘but you are mummy you can put all things right and fix things’ as he flung his distraught body across the sofa. He is also pushing boundaries in regard to how he speaks and relates to us which is leading to a negative cycle of conversations at the moment in our house which I  am struggling to find a way out of. While I don’t feel I know how to resolve matters I am continually reminded of a post I read recently where family is described as an action verb. So I stay put, I don’t run away which I want to do, I join my eldest boy and his distraught body on the sofa, we keep evening meal time as it always is on a Friday with pizza and a DVD. I initiate a family walk. I sit with him and read at bedtime, I invite him to join us on the sofa.

Lessons wise I have decided to cut us all some slack over these next few weeks while Mark finishes up and that is our focus. And with the end being 4 weeks today the big question of what is next is also weighing on our minds and Bob’s too. Right now we are simply putting one step in front of the other with no great expectations or pressures on any of us beyond Mark’s PhD being handed in. This is good on one hand as it frees us up but it also makes it hard as routine does help Bob and myself but neither he or I do transitions, especially unknown transitions well and this is one very big unknown transition and lessons in the midst of all the unsettledness is not a good combination. What has got Bob’s attention though this week is poetry and we have spent many an hour having great fun reading poetry which has been a delight.

Zog has worked his way through reams of paper and artwork as per normal, he just loves to find a corner where he can be left in peace with his markers and paper and draws away to his heart’s content. Kanga is never far from her beloved brothers and her adventurous spirit continues to show up. She may not have many clear words yet but she can clearly communicate her needs and once those are met she is content to get on with life. She is very enthusiastic to help me with all the housework and aware of what is going on in the house and whenever one of her brothers is struggling or having some time out she loves to come along side them and sit with them to comfort them. They are not always so appreciative of this on the surface. Zog also struggles when others especially his hero Bob is sad or struggling and it has been interesting in working out how to navigate moments with both the one who is having the eruption and the other who is sad because the other one is having a hard time.

There is part of me that is noticing we have not got through all the lessons for this year, and will not have by the time we finish up and so working out have we covered enough to jump on into next years material or do we just keep going. Then on the other hand there is part of me that is very grateful that we are where we are and we can have give ourselves the freedom to say right now we need to cut ourselves some slack and we can pick things up again in August and with Mark around then Bob and I can really give time to finishing up well even if that means not finishing up every lesson for the year.

reflections on our home learning week 38

Summer happened this week which Zog was delighted at as he perishes at anything under 18 degrees and Bob hates as he melts when temperatures tumble over 20 degrees so we have a narrow window when both boys are happy to be out and enjoying the world. Kanga. well she is just too little for heat and so has held onto me most of the week for the majority of the time. This week though has marked a step forward for Bob learning to know how to respond and listen to his body as he was able to understand why we wanted him to play in the shade and not out in the hottest part of the day. He was happy to be a book-worm creating lazy afternoons finding quiet corners out of the sun with a book. Zog though could not understand why we were not doing lots of activities and was for ever wanting to go and play at the park so we created a park with climbing frame and slide inside with the helpful addition of a mattress and lots of pillows and cushions and all the windows open to create a pleasant through breeze.

Maths took on a new look this week with the family classic of Continuo which Bob decided covered both Maths and History as there was lots of counting as we made long lines and patterns with coloured blocks but it was also like making mosaics which the Romans did. He has also been running a market stall in the garden selling various food items using recycled containers. This has been great for hundreds, tens and singles placing and addition of more than two numbers.

Art involved shaving foam and food colouring and lots of messy play for all three and then long showers and baths to get cleaned up.

Reading as already mentioned was done throughout the afternoons in an attempt to cope with the heat and humidity.

Writing, well one day he will see the need for it and his body and co-ordination will be ready for it. And in the mean time I will work on my patience.

And as the heat provides a challenge personally there have been many character learning moments for all of us.

Tuesday French and Pitville Park was as usual a highlight of the week, though I think it was topped today by Forest School when they got to make a fire. And though I was not there I heard that Bob came alive and his passion poured out ‘in a  good way’, Bob is fascinated by fire at the moment and being a fire fighter which has provided an unexpected tool in helping him in moments of challenge as we remind him when he starts to fizz that firefighters cannot do that, they have to remain very calm and in control and sharp. This has been a helpful tool for us all in navigating days when things are not running so smoothly. Wherever we go now he likes to check out the different types of fire extinguishers and while I know that water was not what was needed for an electrical fire I did not realise that there are for classes of fires and fire extinguishers.

It’s not been a week of major structure and ticking lessons off but as ever when I look back I can see how learning has been happening in all sorts of ways and not just for Bob but for all of us.

a safe place to be creative buddies walking home ed climbing tree

reflections on our home learning journey weeks 36 & 37

Finally after a long grey close day there is a breeze in the air and the sun is shining. Two little ones are actually asleep and eldest is just back from youth group and so begins the journey of helping him unwind after a fun evening when he is running short on sleep and is heavy-headed with hay fever. Of the three so far Bob is the one for whom transitions are hardest and switching from one activity to another needs time but when that is coupled with tiredness and hay fever it requires from one or other of us the need to dig deeper to make that journey smoother and doable for him. He stops thinking in terms of connection to this world and the people around him and we have to keep bringing him back to reality as he spins off in outer space, at times in a solar system all of his own.

It has been interesting observing the three of them and watching how they all relate to their surroundings and the complete differences between them all. Bob is our wordy one who loves history and science and a new love for languages and is found dwelling inside books in some other solar system. Zog lives within our own solar system joining in the creative work of God adding colour and glittering sparkles to anything that stays still long enough for him to put his creative touch to. This has meant walls have been worked on too, not the best when you are in a rented house that has been thinly painted and so as soon as you go to clean the wall the paint comes off. Zog loves the picture a story paints and is fascinated by art and numbers.  He has started to write numbers much to my surprise when this morning he proudly presented me with a piece of paper with the numbers on it. Tonight in the bath he put up all our foam numbers counting down from 10 and declared that these were space numbers as they went the other way to our numbers. He can generally be called back to earth without it throwing him for a loop though it may take a time or two of addressing him to get his attention. Kanga lives fully and whole heartedly on this earth and as though she knows how it should be run. She is the first to be ready at the door with necessary footwear if I mention that we are going out and she is up and straight to the door when Daddy comes in and acknowledges his departure with waves and often tears. The boys may or may not now register he has even left when he walks back in some hours later.

Each are so different in personalities and yet to see them they could never disown each other. It is a learning curve for both of us as we seek to raise them and know how best to journey through each day to ensure each one is allowed to be themselves within the context of family life when inter-relationships matter and actions are not taken in isolation in different solar systems however far off one may feel one is actually living. The rewards though are massive when we are able to get alongside and track with each of them exploring the world around them.

Lessons have been ticking along most days but the evidence for learning is often not in those moments but at other times such as conversations in the car or from comments others say to us when they have spent time with our children. There are days when lessons can seem so futile but then a later conversation comes along and you realise in that moment that they are all learning and growing and seeking to make sense of the world around them.

What has been encouraging, exciting and somewhat daunting to this non linguistic parent is Bob’s emerging love of languages. He is already doing French and has decided that maths in French is far more fun and he has no problems with addition in French. He also loves to do bits of Hebrew or Greek with his Daddy and this week has decided that he wants to learn Latin and Spanish. I don’t want to squash his enthusiasm and need to work out how best to do this and find ways of exposing him to language. Any suggestions/recommendations that are not going to break the bank would be greatly appreciated. Think I might need to see what there is out there to watch or listen to that he would enjoy.  I regret my lack of langauge skills and if he is to take after his Grandpa and his enjoyment of languages I do not want to stifle it.

I still struggle with the total brick wall we hit as soon as he needs to write anything but Mark keeps reassuring me that he never did and still probably does not like actual pen on paper writing and as he is completing a PhD I probably don’t need to worry too much. All momentum of an encouraging morning can be lost as soon as a pencil/pen is produced. It is more to do with my own personal pressures and expectations and defensiveness when it comes to what other parents with children at school say. What I do wonder at times is whether we should teach him to type yet to give him a way to express the overflow of words his brain has? Any thoughts from folk who have been down this road would be appreciated. I suspect we will not have the same battle with Kanga as she has total melt down as soon as we remove a marker from her hand as she walks through the house with her forbidden treasure. Whereas Zog may move off paper onto walls through creative forgetfulness, Kanga is delighting in forbidden treasure.

We have all learnt lots this year both in and through the journey of home educating and so I am wrestling at the moment of how to adapt and move forward next year as we do not yet know where we will be and so knowing how our days will look and what there will be to be involved in restricts my need to plan and organise which is hard going but it is also a time to trust and keep walking these days out faithfully, living and learning in the moment.