August Family Update

Where has the summer gone? The start of the school term though has brought with it bright sunshine and a definite autumnal chill in the air. Perfect weather I say, along with a drawing in of the evenings. All round with the hint of colours changing I love this time of year and would happily press pause on it all if I could.Image

I am writing this in the car park of Sainsburys’ supermarket while Mark is shopping with the boys. Normally its Jonathan’s nap time but he chose not to fall asleep. The plan had been that we would all go as he would invariably fall asleep and Mark would need to wake him up to go in the store and so if I came along too I could sit in the car and catch up on writing and reading while he snoozed and the others shopped. But as with all best laid plans of parents I am sitting in the car while Mark is shopping with both boys. Its not a massive shop, just all the fresh produce as we enjoyed our online delivery last night which stocked up the cupboards for another month. Next month I need to remember to see how much shampoo we really need before pressing send on the order. The other joy in shopping this month and for the next 12 weeks or so is that I have joined up with a number of friends; thanks to Julianne; to be part of meal planning community. So in preparation for this coming week all I needed to do as far as shopping went was print off the list for this week that was created for us for the week, tick off what we already had and send Mark in with the list. What a gift and joy this community will be this season. We are looking forward to trying lots of new recipes and connecting with folk in various parts of the world.

August despite the rain has been a month of family visits, picnics and great days out at Sudley Castle, the Forest of Dean, Bourton on the Water, Car museums and various parks. Mark and I were also blessed with an evening out while Kath and Kevin babysat for us when they came to visit. So we discovered a lovely pub with a great garden overlooking the valley and across to the distant mountains. A good English pub was one thing we missed while in Vancouver.  Its also been a month for simply getting on with every day routines and feeling more at home, though there are still days of deep longing for Vancouver friends and that sense of being deeply known. Only last night was Matthew building a house with a dining room table and acting out a home group meal with the Wards, Sudermans and Coons. But with the passing weeks comes a growing sense of familiar with the roads and paths around us and the opportunity to bump into new friends. Image

It is also a month when Matthew would say he has seen one too many doctors. The long and the short of one set of symptoms, that included us being sent to hospital with suspected appendicitis, is that he has developed a lactose intolerance. The doctors reckon it is a short term intolerance that over the next while should right itself again. Matthew has been very good about adapting what he can eat and takes great pride in his lactose ‘right’ food.  The other set of hospital appointments he has had to put up with have been for his eyesight. He does not have a squint as we had been told in Vancouver, simply his eyes are two different shapes but he is distinctly long sighted in one eye and will need glasses all the time. We are now waiting to be told they are ready for collection. We hope they will help with his frustration at not being able to ‘read’ books himself and the headaches he gets when his eyes get tired.  The optician was great with Matthew and all his technical questions about what this and that was for and why. Our biggest challenge to come will be to teach Jonathan that they are not toys and to help Matthew not stress if anything happens to them.  The way to the opticians I suspect with become a well worn path.

This has also been the month that has seen Jonathan on the move, first with crawling and after 48 hours of that, standing on his own from any position and now walking with a push truck. He is very proud of himself and loves being able to get himself around. Matthew is less impressed as nothing is now safe and train tracks and jigsaws are taken apart as quickly as he builds them. So begins a new season in their relationship as brothers and new opportunities for us as parents in teaching them how in all humility and gentleness and patience to bear with one another in love to maintain the spirit of peace. These words began this summer as the basis of my prayer for the boys and their relationship but the more I pray it the more I am challenged in the words for Mark and I in our marriage and for all of us as a family.

Prayer has been a gift this month from God and has become not simply an outlet for my brokenness but for God to stretch me and challenge and convict me as I use scripture as my words of prayer. Its been hard and uncomfortable and unsettling but vital. We are also finding creative prayer with Matthew in the evening a rich way of working through hard days and it is so humbling to watch Matthew express his heart at the cross in his words which have brought tears to our eyes out of both humility and humour.

thought for the day

Reading Moses’ conversation with God in Exodus 33 I am reminded how often I try to redefine or redirect God’s answers to my questions and prayers. Instead of leaving God’s answers alone I turn things around to ensure I am the starting point or the focal point rather than letting His answers be and letting Him be the Living God who speaks for Himself, unashamed of who He is. But rather than getting cross with Moses God simply carries on, answering Moses’ questions, unfazed by what Moses does with the answers.

So I find myself challenged again in two ways this morning. Firstly to let God answer my questions with His answers not mine and secondly when the boys decide to redefine my answers to their questions I am challenged not to start getting frustrated with them and pointing out that that was not what I said but to simply move on and help them keep moving forward.

thought for the day

On Moses’ return down the mountain he speaks to Aaron about the calf (Exodus 32). And Aaron’s response seems to be to pass the blame on the others and reminds me of Adam and Eve’s conversation with God back in the garden of Eden and of my own heart and need to find scapegoats for my behaviour.

I am also challenged to think of how I behave while waiting for God to act and move in my life and how quickly I become impatient and decide to go my way, reminding me of the words in Ephesians 4 where Paul calls us not to be tossed to and fro on the waves of this or that teaching or doctrine but to grow in Christ.

How different would my waiting be if I was growing and rooting myself in Christ, standing firm in the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ?

thought for the day

There are some days when I just sit and look at the words and it feels dry and barren and so today the thought this day is the blessing from my readings.

2 Thes 2:16-17

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word

thought for the day

Challenged by reading Exodus 20 this morning and looking at the 10 commandments which Jesus says can be summed up in loving God and loving neighbour.  My challenge is in the contrast to the list or rather volumes of rules I can come up with for the boys to follow and obey to the letter and get frustrated when they do not remember each one and carry them out at the first time of asking.

How often do I set up the ‘rules and required obedience’ as a lazy way to avoid spending time training them in the ways they should go on a daily, hourly, moment by moment basis, accompanied by lapfuls of grace and mercy?

thought for the day

Exodus 20 “for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

So often I only every read the first half of these words and then get myself tied up in knots about what it means but ignore the incredible abundance of mercy and grace and love God shows for thousands of generations who love HIm. 3 and 4 generations are something I can count, know and experience so in a sense it is within my naval gazing reflective range but a thousand generations and I become like Abraham unable to count the stars or sand and so give up and do not think about it and so in not thinking about it I so often do not act out of His love either.

thought for the day from the weekend

I love it when context of texts come together for me from Old and New Testaments and I am blessed with a richer reading, and I can root myself deeper in God’s wonderful story from the very start.

Exodus 19

“Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”

1 Peter 2

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.”