As we move into darkness. Light is coming too. 

There is something in the air. As the low afternoon sun shines on our garden play. As the dark clouds on the horizon force the lights on in the house. As my body craves every ounce of sunlight it can get.

The darkness is coming. Soon the clocks will turn back. The nights will draw in. Dinner will be eaten when the sky outside is dark. The days will be short and I will run in the evenings to the backdrop of fireworks and fairy lights for a couple of months until January gloom hits. 

I’m hoping the SAD lamp we bought this year is helping. I’m hoping that I will enjoy this last week of light and soak every ray of delicious autumn sun. There is so much to delight in at this time of year. 

I love the crisp blue skies each morning at the moment. I love the feeling of change in the air. The cold on my arms and legs on morning runs. The smell of woodsmoke on sunny Saturday afternoons. I love the closeness of this time. The clocks going back brings candle time after dinner, stories read around flickering lights. I love cosy curling up under a blanket in the late afternoon with a cup of tea. I love shutting out the world and embracing the smallness of life. I love the hum of heating in the background and the contrast of cold to warm. 

Darkness is about to hit. But light still bursts holes in it. We are moving into winter but life, beauty and wonder will come with us. 

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Week 7. Hello half term :)

We’ve made it to half term. To the land of co parenting for a week. To a change in routine and pace. To a world of sharing the crazy, rather than ploughing on through alone. I’m very very grateful for these times. I’m glad there is a change of pace for husbandface who has done amazingly this half term but who is also exhausted by giving out so much at work when on meds and in the changing of our church community.

We had a good week last week. Calmer parenting took place. I remembered the reality that God is my helper with the small people, I processed some important stuff about life right now which made me feel less angsty and more aware of the value of small, the value of sacrifice and the value of pouring life out for the people immediately in front of me each day.

The boys were exhausted and so we did slow. We did parks on cold afternoons to stop them going crazy. We watched Tractor Ted and we did lots of baking. We held on to the end. We did a day of hanging out with my lovely sister in law and her three wonderful children at the end of the week. We chatted and had cups of tea whilst the kids played outside, made mud pies, constructed Lego models and generally enjoyed each other. It was a beautiful way to end this  half of term.

The other theme of the week was preparation for the party of the year. Son1’s excitement knew no bounds. I spent the week having many chats about expectations, when presents would be opened, what would happen when and generally felt like I was giving myself advice. It is amusing and scary how similar our brains are at times.

I had some crazy dreams about the party and clearly had to work through my own feelings about it as well. Thankfully on Saturday morning I was reminded that Jesus loved a good party, that celebration and hospitality are our lifeblood and that it was a Good Thing to celebrate our insane eldest’s Birthday.

We had a lovely day with family and friends, we were delighted that Binface and Ali joined Mum and Dad and my brother and his wife for lunch and dinner and glad of their excellent help during the party.

We had a quiet corner (because family of introverts), tea and coffee on tap and husbandface did an amazing job of entertaining small children for a few games and cake. Son1 did very well at surviving the day, my favourite moment being finding him outside on a step, after the games had stopped, just taking stock of the day. He told me he was overwhelmed and tired out. We cuddled and I drank in his gorgeousness. I can’t believe we’ve lived four years with him, loving seeing him grow and change and develop.

The start of half term is always hard. My body wants to give up and handover all parenting to husbandface. He in turn just wants to hide in a cave after the stresses of the term. This morning  we managed to remember that rest isn’t found in the tv screen, that two children under 5 are not restful but that God is giving us strength to keep on loving them and each other.

We can give each other space this week, we can be patient with each other and help each other find time alone and extra sleep. We can also remember that rest isn’t made up of retreat from everything but is found in drinking up the love of the one who loves us most. In breathing lions strength from his warm mane.

We have some fun stuff in store. We have some slow days planned, some seeing friends and some time for each other away in our caves. I’m hopeful about the week ahead. I’m glad of a change in rhythm and a chance to enjoy my very small world right now.

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Thoughts on guilt, generosity and loving the people in front of me….

This morning in my newly discovered start the day with a cup of coffee, Bible, brief chat with God and a bit of Henri Nowen (first time In 4 years I’ve managed to find a spare 5 min in the morning🙂 I read this:

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”‭‭ Proverbs‬ ‭11:24-25‬ ‭

Immediately my brain flew to Guilt. That great duller of all activity and joy in life. Guilt acts like a blanket of blergh. A great bog of the mind designed to leave us paralysed and think we are helpless. Urgh. Although, thinking about it, true guilt is ok because it leads us somewhere wonderful if we listen – confession, restoration, fresh hope, wonder and relationship. False guilt leads no-where. We end up in the big pile of stinky muck known as shame. From there it seems harder and harder to feel ok. Darkness claws deep. Hope is as elusive as the morning mist. 

Anyway. Leaving aside my rambling thoughts about guilt and shame. I felt a huge pile of it when I read those verses this morning. I felt the weight of expectation that I should be doing more. More helping others. More generosity. More hospitality. All lovely things in and of themselves. But I was thinking of them as activities I had to do outside of my regular everyday life. Seen like that they become burdens I can never carry and expectations I can never live up to because I am a finite being with finite time.

Something shifted in my mind when I started to think about treating my husband and children in the way these verses talk about. Or the people I encounter each day, be it other Mums at the school gate or friends I have cups of tea with. These verses become less of a list that I should do to random strangers and more of a way to live well amongst the people I know. Refreshing others sounds wonderful. I would love my children, husband, friends and others to be refreshed and to be involved in that process. Weirdly though I think it doesn’t count if it’s just people I hang out with all the time. 

I don’t know where this guilt of not doing enough comes from. I seem to have absorbed a really negative mindset from somewhere that doesn’t see our family as neighbours to love. It might be from hearing voices over the years caution about not making children the centre of the world (a voice that clearly doesn’t allow for the reality that loving and investing in your children is a vital job). It might be a voice that sees others as more important than your family because focusing on family must be introspective and exclusive. Urgh. 

These voices are lies and clever lies at that. Children aren’t the centre of the world but investing in them, loving them and pouring out grace on them isn’t going to teach them that. You can get really introspective as a family and not include others but if you aren’t loving each other well there will be nothing to reach out to others with. 

I guess, as well, some of the guilt comes from a deep desire to be more hospitable and welcome others in but I know that we are limited people. Husbandface’s job is intense and takes all his people energy. He is barely awake some weekends to engage with us let alone anyone else. We seem to be in a season of small. Our church family has scattered and with no definite new church to pour ourselves into there are less opportunities for relationship. Friends who have been part of our family have moved on from Brighton with no immediate replacements obvious to us. We want to hold onto the other families we share life with and that takes time. 

It all takes time. So maybe I should lift off the guilt these verses presented with me this morning and remember that my immediate family need my love and generosity. My children need my focus in helping them navigate their emotions and desires. My family needs my care and patience rather than my blanket of blergh feeling because I am not doing things I’m not being called to do at the moment. 

We are in a season of small and the Maker is very real in the midst of small, putting value on how I speak to my children, in how I think of my husband, in how I treat my friends. I put my guilt in the bin and long to act with generosity and grace to those in front of me today. 

(These thoughts have been floating around my head since reading this article along similar lines.)

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Week 6. In which the black dog lurks but does not win. 

I don’t want to write about this week, but I sense it might be good to process it a little. I want to write some nice tale of how much I managed my anger so much better than last week. The logic going something like: I wrote about it therefore it should all be dealt with. Hmm. Interesting logic. It doesn’t work. Just in case you were in any doubt.

This week wasn’t such a great week in our lives. My brain gave up functioning at a sane level and the black dog prowled around tainting everything with gloom. The deep despair the black dog brings affects everything. Anger is my first response to things that wouldn’t concern me normally. Suddenly being in control becomes very important. Be it of an uber tidy house or small children. Dirty floors overwhelmed me this week. Small ones not doing what I asked provoked rage instead of calm chats and helpful ways of engaging them into cooperation. 

It didn’t help that one of the small ones has been battling a virus himself and uber grumpy with it. It didn’t help that this week coincided with another week of late nights from the husbandface. I have run out of resources when my brain is telling me that I need to over control my world. That combination has led to volatile situations, despair over my parenting, despair over ever having a future and despair as to my value and worth. 

It’s good to write it down and notice it. There were bright spots in the gloom. I asked for help in believing from a friend and heard the wisdom that came back from her. That sounds simple but I struggle so much to ask for help and hear wisdom so it was a massive step that both happened. 

There were fun pj moments and patient moments in the midst of the grumps. We made cakes for a friend. I got to have tea and chats with people and husbandface has been constantly encouraging when we’ve managed to snatch some moments together in the morning. Henri Nowen has continued to remind me of seeking my worth and value in being Beloved and in the Beloved. I want to choose the solid place of God’s love in the sea of change around me. The Inner Voice of Love is a brilliantly helpful collection of writings -especially if, like me, you struggle with boundaries, fears of what defines you, wanting friendships to define everything and if you need to be reminded of the solid freeing enoughness of Gods love. 

I wonder where the black dog came from, whether a combination of tiredness from last week and continual sadness at our church family having to be disbanded have meant conditions are ripe for it to lurk around. The lack of our community hits deep. I’m also feeling the lack of doing things that have nothing to do with small people and everything to do with reminding people of God (which always reminds me of God- a helpful circle). I haven’t led a service or planned small group stuff or led a small group leaders meeting for a while. It feels odd to have lost that part of life. I think I only noticed the loss of that this week (rather than just being glad my week felt slightly less full than usual). 

It is very strange not being part of a church family. It is so hard to remember it takes time to settle and even to work out where we want to settle. I forget it took me 4 years to feel part of my old church. I forget we are going from deep deep friendships and conversations about where God is in our lives with each other to Sunday services where if we manage a small chat with someone it’s an achievement. It’s a massive shift. I miss our small group prayer time where I knew I would get a chance to share what was going on in our lives. I’m not a natural pourer out of my soul to people and it was good to know I had time where I knew I had permission to speak what was going on and be heard.  

‘It takes time’ might have to be my new mantra for this church transition thing. (Which might be more helpful than my despairing rejection of church altogether that I wanted to do this week). 

It’s Friday lunchtime again. Somehow, with the help of Paw Patrol, we will make it to the end of the week and hopefully have a very quiet weekend resting. There will be no home improvement jobs done. Good friends are bringing takeaway on Saturday night and we shall pause before the last week of this half term. Phew. 

Your correspondent, slightly rambling but glad nonetheless to be able to process the craziness of the week and be reminded that there is One who holds on in the darkness. The black dog lurks but has not won. 

How’s your week been? 

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Week 5. Let’s talk anger management. 

Here we are again at the end of another week. Five weeks into term and my body has slowly succumbed to illness. Me and son2 have shared our germs – I blame his insistence on sharing my porridge spoon each morning- and we have been ill all week. Illness combined with husbandface’s busiest week so far, not making it home for bedtime a couple of days and barely the others, and we have perfect conditions for what happened over the last couple of days.

Towards the beginning of the week we were doing well. Tuesday (normally our most ‘challenging’ evening) went well, so much so that son1 and I high fived in the bath because shouty lady hadn’t appeared. Sadly as the week went on my patience left, my energy levels plummeted and my resources to deal with small people well were depleted. The days were too long and with small stresses in our home I went over the edge of sanity. 

I used to think I’d dealt with the anger that had plagued me as a teenager. In my twenties anger didn’t seem to feature all that much. I think maybe I just didn’t have anyone close enough to get angry with. It’s pretty easy not to get angry with friends. We generally present our best selves to each other. The people who hang around us 24/7 generally see more of the messy stuff of our lives. When I got married anger lurked and presented itself in different guises. As a couple our anger is pretty contained. We are both hedgehogs in the way we deal with it. Silently spiking each other with our loud loud silences. I used to think that wasn’t anger but now I know it’s just a different type of anger. 

Having kids brought a whole new level of anger I just wasn’t, and am still not, all that used to dealing with. To be fair friends did warn me and assure me that it is normal for anger to be a massive part of the emotions of parenting. It was still a surprise that I could feel such rage at my baby not sleeping, not napping when I thought he should and more. I know it comes from a place of being out of control, from sleep deprivation and from being with the same people 24/7. There is little time to regroup and breathe. Knowing where it comes from is half the battle but oh is it hard to manage at times. 

I guess I’m talking about it here because so few people do. There is part of me that is terrified to admit it, just in case everyone thinks I’m awful.(and let’s face it I’m quick to get my judgement on when I hear people shouting at their kids in public). I know we all have shouty moments at our kids (if you don’t please please tell me how you manage it.). I know I desperately don’t want to shout at them but I also know the deep deep frustration that lurks when they have ignored me for the 100th time or demand pasta for 2 hours and then refuse to eat it when it comes. 

Yesterday I raged at the boys and all my parenting strategies for being calm and patient went out of the window. It wasn’t pretty. Weirdly they’ve forgotten all about it and were incredibly excited to see me this morning. It’s harder for me to forget that actually the overriding message they get from me is love. I remember the hideous moments. They have a shorter memory and are happy in the assurance of my love for them. I’m not saying that makes it ok. It isn’t ok to shout (except if they are about to stab each other with knives etc) but it is normal and human. It isn’t ok but there is forgiveness from my kids and from God. I can only keep going each day because of that grace. I need forgiveness, I need help to love my kids well and even though I shouted and raged at the One who loves me most as well last night there is still forgiveness today. I rest in that. 

Over to you. Tell me how you deal with the anger, the shouty moments and the crazy times. Please. Let me know I’m not alone and let me know how you cope.  


It does me good to see the ever patient husbandface get frustrated with son2’s insanity when he gets home from work. Knowing that it’s normal is very helpful. 

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Monday prayer. 

It’s another Monday morning. Red streaks appear over the sky. Boys who were restless in the night seem to have found their sleep at last. Life giving coffee has been drunk. 

The week lies before me. 

This prayer I pray deep. 

Creator God, whose gift of life is found as much in tedium as in glory, teach us to be faithful in the most ordinary tasks of life, and to consecrate our boredom to your service lest, in mistaking dullness for your absence, we lose heart; and in confusing excitement for your presence, we lose faith. For the glory of your name in all the world. Amen. 

It’s Monday. 

The week lies before me. 

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Another week, another reflection on it…

We’re over the hump of this half term. 3 weeks until a short breather before we head towards Christmas. It’s that point in the run where you wonder how you can really keep going until the end. It’s the hard breathing, legs aching kind of week. We’ve had the getting into the rhythm weeks and well, this one has just felt like a hard slog.

It’s been a week where the vast difference between husbandface’s days and mine seems all the more vast. We chatted on Tuesday night, he recounted his day of full on craziness. Teaching, meetings, sorting out fights, more meetings, presentations, dealing with tricky situations, trying to stay relentlessly positive in a world of moaning. He has a mental wonderful crazy job. I love that he has it but the contrast between his day and mine was amusingly stark as I gazed at the window and saw some Paw Patrol pictures that me and son1 had done. It seemed just too ridiculous. 

I know my job is vital and I know it’s not about comparisons. I know that Husbandface is my loudest cheerleader in this weird, small, hard to find the meaning life I live right now but it’s hard to engage well with understanding each other’s worlds. It’s hard not to demand him home exactly in time for dinner each night. It’s hard to learn how to love each other’s worlds. Thankfully he’s awesome and recognises my need to have 20 minutes or so not being touched by a small person in a day. Thankfully he gets stuck into life when he gets home and reassures me again and again of the value of being with the boys.

I still feel like we are helping each other in our different spheres but it requires digging deep beyond resentment and points scoring. It requires choosing to be interested and not counting who has worked harder in the day. It requires grace and forgiveness and sacrifice. I’m glad we have a big story that helps us see that this world runs on grace, forgiveness and sacrifice. It’s the life of love we were given by our maker, shown in Jesus and enabled on us by the Spirit. I am not alone in trying to love. 

That battle has been a massive thread of the week but so has the creeping darkness of loneliness. Along with the ‘what is the point of my days’ thoughts came the aching heart of wishing the void in me could be filled. I think the reality of changing friendships, church life altering and new potential friends on the horizon has left me unsettled. I keep looking to people to provide my certainty and security. It never works. Friendships evolve and change. People alone cannot provide my meaning and safety in this world. I always find the more I try and make them, the more slippery and unsure friendships can seem and loneliness hits hard. 

To try and understand my soul and remind myself I’m not alone in these thoughts I’ve headed back to Henri Nowen. His writings always reassure me that I’m not alone in my cravings for more and more affection and affirmation from the people around me. His writings, as well, always gently pull me back to the One who is my centre and whose love can fill the abyss in my heart. To the One from whose safety I can be free to love with freedom and without holding too tight. 

It’s been a weird old week with the edge of impatience and anger creeping into my voice with the kids. My emotions have affected how I’ve treated them far too much. Thankfully there is still grace for me. Thankfully we are at the end of the week again. Thankfully I’ve been able to notice and be aware of all these things and talk then through with my Maker. Thankfully the darkness hasn’t overwhelmed. 

I’ll leave you with some of the lovely Henri :

‘You have to trust the place that is solid, the place where you can say yes to God’s love even when you do not feel it. Right now you feel nothing except emptiness and the lack of strength to choose. But keep saying, ‘God loves me and God’s love is enough’. You have to choose the solid place over and over again and return to it after every failure.’ 

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