Advent 24

Last blog of wonder.

Christmas Eve.

Baking

Running

Gingerbread people

Team talk on the sofa through the eldest nerves and worries about Christmas Day.

Watching a good stomp on the downs help clear his head.

Hanging out with friends who are family for a walk on the downs, amazing lunch and then off to see Mary Poppins at the cinema.

Son2s gaze of wonder at the big screen dancing joy.

Son1 working through the emotional bits to enjoy the ending.

More chapters read of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The boys working out how the Lion will defeat the witch.

Wine, present wrapping and the Christmas episode of The Good Life to end the day.

I’m off social media for a week now. Glad of the chance to still my mind and remember again that Christmas is only a day. The wonder remains as we head into a new year. The reality of Emmanuel sustains us as we walk on in this life lived through a veil of tears so much of the time yet also full of deep profound joy that we know the end of the story.

See you for some wrapping up the year posts in a weeks time.

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Advent 23

I’m not ever going to stop banging on about this whole light in the darkness thing. Not even after Christmas when we put the nativity characters away for another year. The light is still needed. We can’t ever put that one back in the loft.

Right now.

It’s winter.

The darkness is dark.

I sit on my bed in the early morning wondering why it still looks like night outside. I stare deep into the darkness and offer God my friends who are walking through such pain and dark. I offer the broken lives, the worry, the fear. I offer our grief, our sorrow, our anxiety about the future. I bring these to the Light which determinedly shines despite the darkness all around.

I wait for the vague light of a gloomy morning to signify day has begun. I wait and I long for the blaze of the final morning. The one when the sad things become untrue, the one when Jesus comes back, the term is over and the holidays begin. The one where the darkness is finally banished forever and our tears get wiped away.

Until then we hold onto the Light in darkness. We are held by the Light in darkness and we offer up our friends and family to the Light in the darkness.

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Advent 22

Almost there.

God with man is now residing”

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies”

(Nothing more to be said. The one who made the stars walks amongst us. And that changes everything.)

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Advent 21

The shortest day.

The darkness is deep.

The light short and fleeting.

But…

The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it orabsorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Hoping and praying for some of that peace for us and so many others whose load is too heavy this year.

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Advent 20

And most days it’s about the ordinary.

Up at 5.30 with overexcited grumpy small ones.

Making cookies.

Pottering around a National Trust property with the rest of the Middle Class masses of small people, because, snow dogs.

Hot chocolate in the van.

Naps on the sofa.

Escaping to run hard into the afternoon.

Overexcited puppy like small boys. Running them around the hills on our estate. Getting wet in the rain. Reading on the sofa before dinner.

Into the ordinary the extraordinary came. Which makes all this getting to the end of the day worth it.

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Advent 19 (The one with the Anniversary Post)

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I get to be a little bit sickeningly gushing about my favourite and best. I get to remind you that we used to look like this (which as the years go on seems more and more ridiculous):

KCs3

And now we look like this (still smiling, eyes a little more tired than before…):

IMG_1951

It’s hard to know what to write after this year, a year of plodding on in the dark, not knowing when healing may come. A year where, at it’s end, despite all the pain, things are looking hopeful and I am full of wonder for a man who has come back into focus again.

At some point recently we read this article of what romance looks like in marriage through the years. It pretty much sums it all up (and saves me writing anymore..)

“But when it’s 10 p.m. and you crawl into bed like two old people and tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle and then maybe you feel like making out or maybe you just feel like playing a quick game of Candy Crush, all the while saying things like, “This game is stupid, it sucks” and “Your feet are freezing” and “My ass hurts,” that’s romantic. Because at some point, let’s be honest, death supplies the suspense. How long can this glorious thing last? your eyes sometimes seem to ask each other. You, for one, really hope this lasts a whole hell of a lot longer. You savor the repetitive, deliciously mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the summit. Savor it. That is the very definition of romance.”

We survived good this year.

I think the main story of this year is that we’ve kept on going.  Journeying, as ever, always, together. We’ve sailed through many a storm and now, in these days before Christmas, we find ourselves resting at anchor, safe in harbour, wondering what the next year of life will hold. In this place it feels good to go back to the start and remember how we began.   I want to remind myself of the tale of how our God plonked us in each others lives and how our stories have been inter-twinned ever since to form part of a larger, wonderful story of grace in this messy broken world.

And so, for the sake of remembering where we started…

To the lovely, incredible husbandface:

I’m trying to remember.

The answer to that question.

When did I first fall in love with you?

Was it that moment I can remember so clearly in a pub 11 years ago for a friends birthday? Your full smiley face, maroon jumper that I still won’t let you throw out, asking me who I was?

Was it a year later? About to embark on community living together, you in full on bounce mode pushing all the buttons in my car like a loony toddler, like you’d always known me. It was like we always had.

Or was it when I came home that night to you on the sofa with a beer? When you sheepishly admitted you’d started painting our housemate’s room but got bored and he was due home in the morning. When we painted into the night and drank beers of joy.

Or those times we cried at a God who seemed to be at work amongst us. When we cried in pain at how hard life seemed to be and held each other in that pain.

Or maybe it was when we rearranged all our books into order one day when the others were out. When we drove to Shoreham airport and chatted about everything and nothing.

Or that Christmas, the seeing Twilight together on Christmas Eve, hosting a dinner party for those left in Brighton and singing loud at a midnight service , then in the morning we sat and played Mario Cart together, went to church and sang happy birthday to Jesus and all I wanted to do was be with you doing those things.

Or those times during that long dark January when I thought life was the worst it could be. When we drank wine night after night and you saw me as I was.

Or when you bounced into the house everyday back from work shouting kathywathydoodadaaa because. Well. That’s what you did.

Or that time I told you not to take your vast emotions out on the rest of us. We cared for you and we loved you. We hugged in the kitchen tight.

Or the random evening you sat in front of me and declared you were going to be single forever. And from seemingly nowhere, having almost given up myself I said, ‘You never know what God might do. There is always hope. Don’t shut that part of you down’. Who knew?

Or maybe it was that evening when, a few glasses of wine in, you hid behind a soft toy dog and said that it was me who’d been making you think again about marriage and all that entailed. Me. And how you liked me. In that way. In that way.

Or maybe it’s been in those countless moments since, your hand in mine, waiting for each other, holding on in the dark, dancing in the light and the joyous refrain of belonging to each other.

Onward we go. The adventure continues.

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Advent 18

Hereby today shall be known as the day I stopped. I’ve watched ‘The Holiday’ and found it to be pleasurably diverting, I’ve had a long hot bath and finished ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ (finished/sobbed all the way through the last few chapters at how beautiful and wonderful Aslan is). Mentally I’m doing pretty well, physically my body is slow, tired and grateful. Rest is a Good Thing.

I’ve felt very held today by Everlasting Arms. The arms that have carried me this far in life are still carrying me on.

In the Lake District, on the shore of Derwent Water, there are giant wooden hands which over the years I’ve taken as symbols of the hands that have held me over the years (two of the pictures below were taken about 12 years ago, the last one, this summer). It is these hands I have found rest in today and which I trust will hold us as we journey on.

Here’s a brilliant quote my brother sent me years and years ago that has done good things deep within me again today:

“Your foundations in life may be gone, everything you built on may be crashing down and you yourself going down into the abyss. But, no; underneath – and they are always there – underneath are the everlasting arms. They are always holding you; you will never finally crash; you will be held when everything else is gone” – Martyn Lloyd Jones

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