thought for the day – Epiphany day 24

Matthew 5:17-20 and Heidlberg Catechism 114-115

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Righteous God, your law is goo, but even my best performance only begins to live out its truths. I eagerly look to Jesus, who is my righteousness. I set my heart on His approving love, rest in His forgiveness of my failure and rely on the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit to live out your holy law. Amen

Meals for February

And as another month draws to a close here is next month’s menu plan ready for any advanced shoppers out there. We like to get a big monthly Imagestore cupboard shop done at the end of the month ready for the start of the next month hence the need for a monthly menu at this point. While we do pick up fresh fruit and vegetables weekly it is wonderful to have the delivery van roll up on the last Thursday of the month and bring everything else to our door.

 

Feb 2014

Cracks in everything

Today was one of those interesting days – it will be best to draw a veil over the scene in our living room around 9am, but suffice it to say that it required packing two small boys into the back of our car, so that they could get some downtime/sleep in order to restore calm.

While this did mean sacrificing some work time in order to go for a drive, I didn’t mind too much.  I needed downtime and head space too.  So I politely declined the offer of listening to Zog, or some other exciting tale and left the CD my lovely sister Kath produced for us this Christmas playing in the car.  I drove up Cleeve Hill, to the  highest spot in the  Cotswolds, up into the rain and cloud, but was greeted by sunshine as I went down the hill towards Winchcombe.

The rest of the drive was lovely, sometimes wet,  always surrounded by clouds hugging hill tops, and frequently greeted by sunshine through the rain.  Youngest boy fell asleep and oldest almost did.  One song on the CD has caught my attention in recent days as I’ve listened to the CD.  I can’t recall who it is by, and it’s really just the refrain that has grabbed me.  The line is this:

“Forget your perfect offering
There are cracks in everything
It’s how the light gets in.”

I may not have quoted it exactly.  I may well be wrenching it out of context – but these words are the ones sinking in to me deeply.

Forget your perfect offering.  It gets me because I want to be right. I want to get it right, to do it right, to be a father who does it right. A husband who does it right. A student who gets it right.

But I don’t.  I get it wrong. I answer impatiently.  I put things in the wrong order. I miss the obvious cues.  I forget something.  But I want to be right. I want to get it.  I want to be right when it comes to God. I want to be 100% devoted. I want to have avoided sin.

But I don’t.  And I can’t. And it wears me out.  I’ve been watching West Wing while rocking baby to sleep these last few weeks.  LAst night was the episode where Santos, the presidential candidate addresses a packed church after the shooting of a young coloured man.  His refrain “we’re tired” as he highlights the brokeness.  From another of his speeches comes the line “we are all broken people”.  We are. I am.

And so “Forget your perfect offering” is getting into me.  Forget your perfect offering.  Forget it. My life is not, and will not be a perfect offering. It is full of cracks. Perfection is never acheived this side of eternity. On this earth we always fall short.

There is only one perfect offering.  Only one who actually lived out how he should.  His perfect offering covers me.  God does not require perfection.  I’m reading Genesis at the moment, and I’m in the middle of Abraham’s life.  Abraham yo yo’s between promise and failure from chapter to chapter: God’s promise, Abraham lies about Sarah as his sister, Abraham does well with Lot, God’s promise, Abraham sleeps with slave girl and allows wife to cast her out, God’s promise, Abraham interceeds with God, Abraham lies about Sarah as his sister…  Abraham gets it  wrong.  He doubts God.  And yet he also trusts.  Not perfectly.  But he does.

There are cracks in everything – that’s how the light gets in.  I know in family life that  some of the best moments are when we put things right when stuff has gone wrong.  In that vulnerability comes new trust, new communication, new awareness.  The same is true with God as we bring our brokeness and failure and sin to him.  He can make all things new.

He doesn’t want our perfect offerings. He doesn’t want our clinging to being right. He wants us. As we are. The chorus has it right: “Jesus take me as I am, I can come no other way”.  And he does take us, he does change us. He does make us more like Jesus. But it doesn’t happen by us trying to get it right. It happens by us knowing our failure. Desiring to be made whole, but knowing how far we fall short.  But coming.  We just need to come.

Here is Charlotte Elliott’s great hymn “Just as I am” which seems like a good place to finish. This post is not perfect. But I’ll stop now.   West Wing episode is about to finish, and hopefully baby will transfer to cot – and hopefully boys will sleep.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

thought for the day – Epiphany day 17

Psalm 126:3

The Lord has done good things for us and we are filled with joy.

He has indeed done good things for us. He has done great things for us but all to often my countenance is not one of joy but of worrying about what comes next. I question and worry what lies ahead rather than trust the One who has done great things for us, who has provided for us and by His word shows us that He will never forsake us. I have every reason for being filled with joy so this day I ask Lord for trust and faith to walk forward filled with your joy, confident of all you have done.

Pondering who I am?

It is so easy in the midst of small children to forget the bigger picture. Simply because I am full time at home does not mean that I am solely a mum. I am a wife before I am a mother, I bear the image of God. I am a friend, a daughter, a sister. I have a couple of degrees, though I admit the first one is not of outstanding quality but it was enough to let me go for a masters, albeit in a totally different field. I love reading the Gruffalo and it is a wonderful book but my brain did and would love to once more read books with a few more words that did not necessarily rhyme but at present my eyes tend to be shut before the first page is open. But that act in and of itself does not negate that part of me that is not focused purely on our children.  But a recent conversation left me wondering if my mothering is how the world identifies me, the other parts of me are left behind, no longer part of who I am or what makes me feel alive. I love the Gruffalo but after ten renditions of it and acting it out has a somewhat numbing affect, somewhat like some of those deeper tomes I want to get back to reading no doubt can have, but I still want to read and use that part of my brain before it is totally neglected and looks more like the ruined castles our 4 year old is fascinated by.

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Yes at present I am likely to spend the major part of my 24 hour day with one, two or three children attached to me, requiring different needs to be fulfilled by me. But I have other skills aside from breastfeeding, reading and building train tracks and drinking imaginary cups of tea. Actually the imaginary cup of tea may be the closest I get to drinking a hot drink of any sort these days but that is a side point. I am also a wife, though as my husband and I spend large parts of our time when he is at home passing like ships in the night dealing with small children then that can easily be forgotten which is not a good thing. Our children need us to be a strong team and the only way that can happen is to be able to communicate and spend time together. What has been a blessing is working out creative ways to share, communicate and be with each other, especially when one child needs to know the ins and outs of every conversation the two of you are having while they are awake and two others think that the double bed in the house belongs to them.

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At church identity for mums can also be lost as there is always a need for children’s workers and Sunday school teachers but that always comes back to the job of the mums more often than not. I have a passion for good children’s work but it is not my strength or love. I have done it for 26 years now in one form or other and for a long part I did it because I care deeply about the mums and long for them to have time to be at church, to be spiritually fed, to remember that they are more than mums and to be free to be fully present in the service. While I am right now having a break since our youngest was born I have continued since becoming a mum to be invited into the work of children’s ministry based on the premise that I am a mum and our children are in Sunday school. Our children also have a father and so do many of the others in our Sunday school groups and yet the fathers are often not that I am aware directly invited to be teachers.  I love that our eldest is now in a Sunday school group that I have no part in. That he is learning from others the story of faith.

We have chosen to have children and have been blessed with three. We have chosen for me to be home full time with them. We have chosen to homeschool for the moment.

They are all choices I stand by and am confident are right for our family in this season. They do not define me in my completeness though. They are not easy paths, there are days when I would happily change the second two, they are hard and tiring places to be in, especially with an age range of 4, 2 and 8 weeks but they are right and because of who I am beyond being a mother I find the courage and strength and wisdom to stay with these choices.

But there needs to be freedom to say it’s hard, there needs to be freedom to be seen as a lady, seen as someone who has something else to offer than simply retellings of the Gruffalo with his purple prickles and poisonous wart at the end of his nose…It is important for our children to know and see that too without simply being told to get a job or send them to nursery/school. When we started this blog I wrote a piece that spoke of it taking a village to raise a child. As I conclude this piece I am reminded of the gift of a friendship this very morning that offered to be part of that village without assuming I needed to go back to work or send the children to school but was willing to step into our family and be part of the village that raises our children and allows me to be me and not simply mum.

thought for the day – Epiphany day 15

Eph 5:8

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

A reminder I need on mornings like today when yet again an as of yet unidenitified force caused the boys to wake at 5:20am. Not long before then I has just drifted back into my final deep sleep cyle after feeding littlest and I am not in any mood or state to start the day wide eyed and bushy tailed to read books placed on my face about frogs or to be younger son’s personal lift up and down the bunk. So I reacted roughly, impatiently and made more nosie than they are while telling them they need to be quiet as it is far too early to be up. I reacted out of darkness not light. Lord forgive me.