A monthly round up…

IMG_0390

This was my second blog post which emerged from writing in the van this week. This time it’s an insight into our world right now, the highs and lows. Life bumbles on and in the midst of that I need to remember the truths I was reminded of at Forest Church as we journey on into the coming weeks.

A monthly round up…

It’s been too long since I sat in front of this screen and tried to process the craziness of life all around me. 

In the midst of these last few weeks I have felt the stirrings of desires to write again, to fumble through my thoughts and attempt to order them once more.

The weeks since half term seem like a massive blur. We’ve ploughed on through the days.  I’ve worked, husbandface has worked, the boys have enjoyed their school and nursery and we have put one foot in front of the other. Put like that it all sounds a bit bland. But then again maybe ordinary life does sound bland? We’ve lived, breathed, in and out, through each day, we’ve survived through the rhythms of weeks and weekends.

In the midst of that ordinary living thing there have been a few noticeable things.

I’ve busted my ankle and haven’t been able to run in the last 3 weeks, I’m desperate to run again, my endorphin levels are too low and my mental health is suffering in the lack of full on exercise.  However, it has created more space to get my reading mojo on again and receive lots of help and love from people, but still, I wish it would hurry up and be ok again soon.

Being fairly immobile coincided with me giving up on our 30 days of wild this year. I had a week or so off social media to try and be more present in life. I reached a wall of tiredness where I couldn’t face recording another thing in our lives. We get outdoors lots, we love nature, I’m not sure I needed the pressure of finding something to take a photo of and talk about online each day.

Husbandface’s health is pretty bad. I’ve written about it before. You can read what it’s like in a day to day way here. There isn’t much more to say other than it’s a fairly sucky situation. We are coping differently this year to last year, it feels less intense for me because I have other outlets in life, work is a welcome difference and son2 is at nursery 3 days a week. Husbandface is now able to work due to a lovely lovely job and a fairly calm environment to work in. The boys are less confused because he’s doing ‘normal’ things. There are good things in this stretch of whatever this is. But the tiredness is creeping in again. The tears are close to the surface and I can feel my stress leaking out on the boys.

I go back to my sailing metaphors to cope with the darkness. We’re in a boat, a man down, I steer into the dark, occasionally he comes and sits by my side and we stare out at the horizon together, always together. Then he retreats below deck to battle demons and I sit in the cold light of morning wondering what squalls will come our way to navigate today.

I’m grateful for the people around us, for the ones who’ve looked out for us, fed us, asked after us, laughed with us, been points of light in a very hard situation. I’m grateful for our full rooted life here, for the community we are part of, for the people I see each week for cups of tea and chats. I am grateful for our church, for a space to know the reality of God in this present weird world. I am grateful for my beautiful insane boys and their waves of development. I am grateful for our camper van and the opportunities for chats, tea and reminders of reality that already are taking place in her.  I am grateful that we are still holding hands in the dark and I am grateful for wedding vows, for better, for worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health and the way they act like ropes which wrap us around each other and keep us on this ship in the storms.

In the midst of the slog through the ordinary we realised we were going to have to postpone my birthday party, an afternoon of african drumming, music, poetry, cake, tea and beer. It was the right call, it’s now going to be at the end of the summer, (message me if you want to come) and I think it should be a lovely afternoon. I can’t help but feel a little sad though, our stupid world tells us over and over again that we need good stories to tell of milestone birthdays. It’s no good to say, I just had a quiet day like normal. We crave injecting meaning into the passing of time. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a hard thing when life feels small and rubbish at times.

BUT, I shall either eschew the desire for a meaningful exciting story of my 40th Birthday or I shall retell it and reframe it and look back at it as the best birthday ever because it marked the point when Gracie, our lovely VW Campervan joined our lives. Yes, reframing is best, why question the underlying assumptions of our world anyway?

Husbandface and I are escaping for the day in her on Saturday (thanks amazing parents) and we shall have fun, and maybe a nap. I am loving writing this post in her and kitting her out today with the stuff we need for our holiday in a few weeks time. It’s not such a bad way to celebrate turning 40…

There you have it, life is a mixed old bag of weird. In the midst of that I’ve taken today off to sit on the downs in Gracie and try and breathe. To remember who I belong to and the eternal realities all around us. Ordinary life is hard and brilliant all at the same time. I’m exhausted but held. Overwhelmed but protected. In need but stunned by the plenty more than enough we have. Crushed but not perplexed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.

There is hope, a golden thread in the dark which encircles us and does not let us fall.

I am glad.

IMG_0391

Advertisements
Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun, vanlife | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Church

IMG_0362

We hadn’t been to Forest Church for a while.

It was a good opportunity to get cool after a long hot morning.

We sat in the same place we have sat before, last time we had come it was winter, everything was dead, damp and cold.

Today green moss covered the logs, luminous leaves sheltered us from the sun overhead and a cool breeze made the day bearable.

The boys clambered over fallen down trees and made a den in the forest.

We sat and tried to discern the invisible by looking deep at the visible all around us.

We were sent away to listen, to write, to return.

I wrote in response to three questions:

Today I feel…

Exhausted,

Run dry,

Aching.

But I can see in creation…

Familiar security

Unchanging strength

Eternal rootedness

in a landscape that
transforms, morphs, moulds itself
to the tides of seasons, sunshine, rain.

Everything is altered whilst everything remains.

The light somehow makes it through the trees.

So I will…

Keep walking
Keep hoping
Keep holding your hand

Keep resting in your eternal, secure, dynamic, present, transforming love.

Rest by the tree.
Beyond the view lies
me.

We shared our thoughts, ate brownies and I was left with a deep impression of the protection the trees offer. We have sheltered in these same woods this year in pouring rain and we were not drenched, in the blazing heat of Sunday we were protected again and we did not burn.

In this storm we live in at the moment we are protected, not from it, but in it. We are held in hands bigger than ours. In the wondering why it’s happening, in the joys of life despite it, we are held and we are not abandoned. We trust, not for never facing storms like this one, but for protection in the midst of it. We trust like those throughout the years and years of trying to dwell with the divine and we hope beyond hope that we will not be disappointed.

IMG_0348

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun | 3 Comments

This could be the start of something new…

I know it’s been a while. A round up of the month may come soon. For now though I have news. News of a rather big and exciting nature. News that I can hardly believe we’ve actually done.

If you’ve been lurking around this blog for the last two years you will be familiar with our obsession with all things to do with #vanlife. We started dreaming about life with a van last year and fell in love with the whole home on wheels idea when we went off in a motorhome last summer. It seemed to be the best way to do holidays together as a family and we started to dream about how it could make a difference in the everyday world of husbandface’s illness. It was amazing to take a safe space for him to retreat to everywhere we went, for him to enjoy adventures with us and for the boys to have more access to their beloved Daddy.

We came home slightly desperate for a van but realised financially we needed to try for stability, to be rooted in one place for a while and to be content with the small.

The idea never went away though.

This illness isn’t going to be magically cured any day soon. This year I’ve learnt that the rebuilding of someone’s whole world is a long long hard road. Our holidays and days out will always need a safe space for husbandface to retreat to. Even visiting friends and family needs a safe space for him to retreat to. Snail living offers the chance for husbandface to be with us and be able to rest when needed.

The idea still didn’t go away.

At a crucial point early last year I finally found an awesome long term thing I wanted to do with my life. An idea of merging my love of vans, outdoors and walking with other in their journey with God. When I left uni, I left with a dream of encouraging others, of driving a van around the country being a source of life and faith with those I knew. I exchanged that dream for one of being rooted in a community which I think was better all round. This year though, in the dark month of February the idea came back and and morphed into the idea of training to be a Spiritual Director working out of a camper van. Offering people space in the outdoors for silence and reflection seems like an awesome thing to do.

The plan was formed. The idea had extended into something tangible and to aim for.

Autotrader became my home. I fought the fight of contentment and waiting.

I got a lovely job with my Church and knew the van idea could fit extremely well with that.

The idea didn’t go away.

The longing for some kind of sanity in this world of unknown timing grew.

And so.

We cracked.

We found a couple of vans on Gumtree and looked them over last weekend. They were no good. So we started to put the dream back on the shelf until, on a last scan of the internet, we saw a van that looked better, more cared for, a safer option and at a crazy reasonable price.

We visited it on Monday.

I had goosebumps and a crazy grin on my face.

We looked at each other and said.

Yes.

I know we aren’t allowed to talk about money in our weird world (another blog post to follow on that) but we worked out we could invest a bonus (that would have gone on a two week van hire in the summer) into this van and get a low interest loan to cover the rest of costs. It seemed a no brainer, we can afford the monthly repayments and then can have loads of low cost fun. Crucially it makes going back to Northern Ireland affordable and enables us to be more engaged with our lovely family over there.

We are in a different place to this time last year. I have an amazing job which I love and which has the added bonus of bringing in some more money. Husband face is rooting himself in his new job and settling into a long term world of coding. His company is lovely and helpfully gives out a few bonuses every now and again. Financially we seem to be more stable again. It seems to be a sane decision to bring joy in a time of hard slog.

And now I shall follow the advice of my lovely Mum and stop justifying myself and just enjoy it.

We have a Campervan!

She’s gorgeous.

Meet Gracie everyone.

It’s possibly the best birthday present ever.

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun, vanlife | 1 Comment

30 Days of Wild: Day 6

Today we ordered our caterpillars. We’ve done this for the last few years and the boys and I love the crazy miracle of caterpillars turning to butterflies right before our eyes.

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun | Leave a comment

30 Days of Wild. Day 5.

(Just getting this one in at the last minute…)

An evening outside.

Chilli around the fire pit.

Conversations deep into the night.

Starting to swim the depths and find our way on in this journey of life.

Starting to speak out the name of the Maker again.

An evening outside.

We raised our gaze to the beyond and tasted more of the divine.

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Days of Wild: Day 4

We’re back in term time routine today so the smallest and I headed off to some Rock Gardens this morning to hang out with friends. We had a bit of breaking through son2s grumps to do but once he’d worked out that he could have fun scrambling over rocks and exploring around trees he got into the swing of it all.

All in all a lovely morning outdoors, ending with some puppy sitting for a friend.

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

30 Days of Wild. Day 3

Sometimes it’s good to be pushed to think creatively about how to get outside.

Today I ran 10k down to the sea. The family joined me and we ate bacons rolls, then cycled/scooted/walked along the seafront. Beautiful morning for it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment