Friday roundup…

Today I’m writing from the lovely farmhouse that our church is renting with the idea of some kind of community forming out here. Whilst that vision is developing we are using it in various forms and ways. Thus I find myself sitting in a room listening to people making soup in the kitchen, small children are being taken outside for a walk and a friend is reading by the fire. Every other Friday some of us are gathering out here to relax, create, read, walk, soak up some pretty time and maybe ponder what the future might be for this space.

It’s a lovely place to be on my day off. This week has been another good one. A week of embedding into life in this new routine. A week of reminding myself that it’s ok to enjoy life. A great session with my counsellor helped me think through the idea that as people we are made to flourish. She talked about the flourishing aspects of nature and internally I could feel my thoughts turning to reject such a notion. I am much quicker to see the decay, the darkness, the death of nature. But, as the next few months will show us, nature flourishes. Green shoots are already coming out of the ground. Snowdrops followed by daffodils followed by bluebells are soon to be seen all over our estate. It is ok to be in a season of flourishing. And yes, we are only two weeks into this new season but already I can feel my soul unfurling. I’m fighting my need to add caveats of maybe it will all end tomorrow. But I am trying to embrace joy, trying to feel it deeply rather than dismissing it or being scared that it will leave again.

Small pause whilst I talked to interesting people and ate amazing lunch.

After a lovely morning I’m now back in the more familiar zone of my house with the small people laughing at Peppa pig in the background. They are both hoping I’ll fall asleep so they can watch all the tv. They may be in luck today. No sleep with a small boy coughing in my face all night has led me to a tired zoned out kind of afternoon. But. The joy is still lurking. The sun shines wide and light seems to be streaming in once more. We have a fairly chilled weekend ahead of us and I am grateful for the slow pace right now.

How’s your week been?

Mmm. This sofa is so comfy. I might just lie down and close my eyes. Mmmmmmmm.

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Weekly round up…


It’s Friday morning, the sun is streaming through the windows our living room, highlighting the vast amount of small people smear marks all over the place. I shall resist getting out the window cleaner until the sun disappears tomorrow and the marks are hidden once more.

I’ve just been for an 8k run up and down the green hills around the back of our house.

Martyn Joseph is pounding out of my speakers in an effort to drown out the loud silence all around the house. For the first time in a year the house is still. There is no-one asleep upstairs, there are no small people running around demanding I play with them. There is just me, a hot cup of tea and a whole load of space. (actually 3 hours of space but still, 3 hours…)

We have had a week of starting to learn the art of long distance running. We have slowly figured out what combination of routine works best in the morning, how to get us all dressed and fed in fairly good moods and ready to head out of the house to face the day. Mostly it works when I have coffee and Bible first thing, then shower, then interaction with my lovely family. Mostly it works if son1 gets dressed before husbandface leaves for work. Mostly we are learning.

Son2 has settled into the world of nursery in a week of great change, no longer is the beloved Daddy around all the time and now he is hanging out in the place he’s briefly visited for over a year. Now he has a book bag of his own and can choose a book each day to take home. Now he has his own lunchbox and water bottle. Now he gives me his huggle, kiss and a smell and then heads off to play. I now return home three times a week with no children around me. I think this world will take some getting used to.

Already I feel lighter, more able to cope. Already, though, I have all the feelings about this new stage, relief that we’ve made it through the baby and toddler years, gladness that finally I have my craved for space after 5 years of waiting. Wonder that we’ve made it this far, amazement at the two delightful boys who trail up the hill together. I also feel the fear of sending them out into this world, knowing I cannot control the choices they make, knowing that they will get hurt and hurt others. I feel the call to make this home their safe refuge in the midst of all their storms. I feel the terror of what next and the hope of what next and the daily daily daily just keep putting one foot in front of the other and we’ll get there. I feel the call of the ordinary wonder, the meaning in the unseen, the reality of a God who is in All Things.

I ran and ran today, not chasing the speed of the sprint but the long long long slow pace of someone who just needs to keep moving. This appears to be my metaphor for the year, long and slow. Not rushing. Being here. Loving the people around us. Not wishing time away in dreams of a converted van (one day, one day…), not scared of what this empty space means, not rushing to find the meaning because the meaning is already here. The meaning is in today. Looking up, looking around, noticing the world and having the strength to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

I have no idea what shape the space of these hours will take but for now there is a book and a sofa awaiting me before I eat lunch and pick up the smallest of our team. That’s a good kind of small.

How’s your week been?

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Weekly roundup…


Somehow we’ve made it through our last week of being out of routine. Next week husbandface starts his new job, son2 will start at his new nursery and we will plunge into some kind of new normal. 

This week has mainly been about fighting the large black cloud of January. I really struggle with this month. It’s been hideously dark in the days and I am finding no motivation to live well.  I know I need to eat well, run and read in order to thrive in this life.  Somehow hiding on the sofa under a blanket whilst consuming every last sweet thing in the house feels much more satisfying. Except it’s not. I wouldn’t mind if it was. But. I operate better with regular exercise and eating vaguely healthy things. This week it’s all gone a bit wrong… 

Ah well. 

The small voice of self kindness is whispering in the back of my mind. Something about being slow, kind, gentle and patient with myself. Something about my worth being bound up in a great love that transcends circumstances, choices that aren’t all that great and the dark gloom that encircles me.  

The black dog has loomed large this week but there are things that can shrink it. 


The good in the midst of the bad and ugly has been:

Some nights in my bed without the smallest one on my face. Slowly we make progress with his sleep- thanks to the amazing patience of the lovely husbandface. 

Fun times with the boys. Being amused by their interactions and general increased ability to communicate slightly better than a couple of months ago.

Small signs of spring on the way. A purple flower in a hedge on a gloomy walk around our streets. Sun bursting in the distance through the murk across a stormy sea. The parting of grey clouds to reveal blue sky beneath. Birds singing at twilight.  A sunny morning run along the seafront. Face turned up towards the sky trying to soak in every ounce of vitamin D from the sun before it left again.


Sitting in my counselling room reflecting on change in my approach to myself.

Sitting in my spiritual directors house noting change and the return of ordinary issues in after the massive bolder of the last year and a half has been moved away.

Laughing wryly with the lovely husbandface at the return of the old issues, grateful that maybe we have a chance to tackle them and see how we’ve changed as they return.

Husbandface’s face.

Sitting in a pub with a new friend, deeply loving the indulgence of Friday night drinks away from bedtime in our respective houses. Swimming the depths chats. Mmmm.

Son2’s insistence on being a dog for the whole of a 45 min walk on the seafront.

Son2’s excitement about starting his new nursery this coming week.

Drumming at my African Drumming class. Being made to solo and kind of loving finding the rhythm and doing some big hitting around it, in it and through it.

A slow Saturday start. Brownies at the market. Park with the small ones. Coffee in hand.

Onward we go through January… How’s your week been?

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The first Friday round up from 2018


The fog lifts from 2017 and into 2018 we go.. 

I think the Friday round up will continue into 2018.

Because, well, somethings shouldn’t change all that much. And it’s good for my head to know I will make myself write at least once a week.

It’s Friday lunchtime and I’m sitting, not on a sofa with a small person watching some inane TV, but in my parents house. Mum’s study/spiritual direction room is a haven of peace and tranquility, as is their whole house, summer house and amazing labyrinth at the back of their garden. It’s a good place to come and hang out for a few days.

For the first time in a long long time I am having three days to myself, days to do whatever I like with, days to live in someone else’s rhythm for a while, days to read, write, sit and generally not have to look after any small people. It’s been amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been heaven. I still have crazy anxious thoughts, time off doesn’t always equal times where I am perfect and my surroundings are perfect. Life sadly isn’t like that. BUT. It has been and is still for the next 18 hours or so, a wonderful gift. It has been amazing to run without the voice that says, hurry up and get back to move on to the next thing. It has been delicious to not have to get out of bed in the morning, no voice demanding to ‘go down the ‘dairs NOW’.  It has been lovely to have space to read without thinking about what the next thing will be. It has felt like a holiday, time to decompress and truly relax.

It feels oddly fitting to start the year with rest. To start by knowing this year isn’t about my efforts to be amazing, to know that I am not in control of my family and their well being, to stop and let someone else take the reins.

I came with a sense of wanting the profound thoughts to flow. I feel like we’ve climbed the first peak of many mountains in this adventure of being parents. I feel like there are new peaks to be explored in our wider lives and in the raising of small ones. For now though, my hiking boots rest at the cairn at the top and I sit gazing over the sun drenched vista all around me.


This year I’m actually going to make it back here. Buttermere. The best place. Fact. 

This year feels like a turning point kind of a year. We are 5 years into the raising small people thing, the eldest is established in school, the youngest has just had his first settling in session at his new nursery. He’ll go there for 15 hours a week in a couple of weeks time. For the first time in this strange season of life I shall have extended space in my days. It feels like we are moving from winter to spring. I do not feel like a frozen tree frog this year. I feel like air might be coming back to my lungs and that I might have some energy once more.

Husbandface is launching into the 9-5, 20 or so days of holiday a year, world. He has only ever known the adrenaline lurch from term to holiday, holiday to term. We as a couple and family have only ever known what it is to plough through the term and eventually find breath in the holidays. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest. Now we embrace the long slow middle distant runner world. We need to find our pace, our rhythm, how to breathe in the long walk home. (can you tell I’ve been running lots in these couple of days…).

We have no idea how all this newness will go from this viewpoint up here. I can’t predict how my lovely husband’s health will be, how he’ll settle into the new routine, how me and the boys will be with each other with him back at work. I can’t control how we will all live in this new world. We just have to put our boots back on and walk out onto the path ahead.

There are exciting projects going on at church, potential worlds to get involved with, one day we will actually join a small group and rest that longing in our hearts to get to know people in a deeper way. As I look at the view I can see that we have been held up this mountain and we will be held as we journey on. I can feel my faith unfurling again, truths that have held me thus far still holding me now. I still believe in the cup, the cross, an empty tomb, an unfailing love, a reason to keep walking on and hope in a future of unimaginable relief awaiting.

Last year, for the first time, I claimed a word for the year. It was treasure. At random points throughout the year I saw treasure all around in our long dark tunnel of long term illness. It was good to treasure things up in the black inky night.

This year I’m going to go with rooted, and not just cos it’s a Christian cliche kind of word… This year feels like one of being rooted where we are, digging deep down into our community, digging deep to plant the new jobs and rhythms of life that we will experiences. I want to be rooted by streams of living water, I want to be a tree that produces good and healthy fruit. I long for our family to flourish and know more and more of our Maker who holds us here and calls us to love those around us.

I want to be rooted in the fundamental reality that I am worthy, I am loved, I am beloved. Before anything I do this year, before I put on identities of being a wife, motherhood, friendship, church involvement etc.

Before all that I am Kath, beloved of my heavenly parent, created as a beautiful poem, loved with an everlasting love. I do not have to prove my worth with how I spend my time, how many friends I have, what works I do, how good I am at my different roles.

I wake and I am loved.

Before anything else happens in a day.

I am worthy.

I belong.

I am held.

I am sought.

I am loved.

From that place of secure rooted safety I am then free to love my family well without my worth coming into question when I mess up, hurt them and don’t make good choices in my love. I can be free to say sorry, to ask for forgiveness, to know redemption rather than believing the lie that I am no good. I am free to choose wisely how to spend time, to set healthy boundaries, to love deeply and well because my worth is bound up in something so much greater and unchanging.

That’s the theory I’m working with anyway, some of the time my brain mashes up and calls me selfish for even thinking I could be of worth and value. Ugh. Thankfully I have an unchanging reality of a God who comes and seeks and finds his children, who seeks out the lost because of their utter worth and value to him. Who didn’t leave Adam and Eve when they rejected him but who came out looking for them. Who always takes the initiative to come and find and hold and love.

Phew. Unchanging realities are good to throw myself on when I go down the rabbit holes of my mind.

And that’s about it for now. I’ll be back around this blog here and there each week. 

See you around on the path.

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What I read in 2017: a list.

Because my list for 2018 is growing already- here’s the complete list from 2017… I’ll highlight the absolute recommends, the you should read this whatever ones (there are other gems in there but probably for more specific groups of people…)

1.What falls from the sky- Esther Emery
2. Bel Canto- Ann Patchett.
3. Ink- Alice Broadway
4. Hurrah for Gin- Katie Kirkby
5.State of Wonder- Ann Patchett
6. Bridget Jones’s Baby- Helen Fielding
7. Soul Bare- Cara Sexton
8. Cheer Up Love- Susan Calman
9. Present over Perfect – Shauna Niequist.
10. Behind Closed Doors- BA Paris.
11.The Broken Way – Ann Voskamp.
12. Reasons to Stay Alive- Matt Haig.
13. Spectacles- Sue Perkins
14. The Course of Love- Alain de Botton
15. Faithful- Alice Hoffman.
16. Wonder- RJ Palacio
17. The Muse- Jessie Burton
18. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep- Joanna Cannon
19. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves- Joy Fowler.
20. Wild – Cheryl Strayed
21. Fun Science- Charlie McDonnell.
22. Perfect- Rachel Joyce
23. A Praying Life- Paul Miller.
24. Operating Instructions- Anne Lamott
25. Grace Eventually, Thoughts on Faith- Anne Lamott.
26. The Gingerbread House- Kate Beaufoy
27. Good me, Bad me- Ali Land
28. On the Road with Kids- John Ahern
29. Boys Don’t Cry- Malorie Blackman.
30. Chasing the Stars: Malorie Blackman
31. The Highly Sensitive Child- Elaine N Aron
32. Walking Home – Clare Balding
33. Commonwealth- Ann Patchett.
34. Into the Water- Paula Hawkins
35. I See You- Clare MacKintosh.
36. When the Floods Came- Clare Morrall
37. Jesus, Safe, Tender, Extreme- Adrian Plass
38. SevenEves- Neal Stephenson (the only one I would say- don’t even go there…)
39. A Kind Man- Susan Hill.
40. Holding- Graham Norton
41. 15 Minutes to Wake the Dead- David Bracewell.
42. The House at the End of Hope Street- Menna Vaan Praag
43. I let you go- Clare McIntosh.
44. Home- Jo Swinney.
45. Faithful Families- Traci Smith.
46. My Family and Other Disasters- Lucy Managan
47. Underground Airlines- Ben Winter.
48. The Wonder- Emma Donoghue
49. The Missing Wife- Shelia O’Flanagan
50. Walking Home- Simon Armitage.
51. Those who Wait- Tanya Marlow.
52. The Museum of You- Carys Bray
53. Disobedience – Naomi Alderman
54. The Hate yoU Give- Angie Thomas
55. Robert Webb- How not to be a Boy
56. Knife Edge- Malorie Blackman
57. Checkmate- Malorie Blackman
58. Double Cross- Malorie Blackman
59. The Circle- Dave Eggers
60. The Rosie Project- Graeme Simison
61. Daring Greatly- Brene Brown.
62. The Keeper of Lost Things- Ruth Hogan

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Wednesday Morning. From 2017 to 2018. Thoughts on a train.

I’m currently sat on a train heading off for some time away on my own. Believe it or not, for the first time in 5 years. 5 years of small people in my face for pretty much 24/7. Yes there have been days off, time away, even a night away in there somewhere. But this is the first time I’m actually off for three whole days. I’m excited, scared, grateful, worried and full of a desire to get into bed and sleep for a long long time.

As the train pulls out of the station I have the lovely Andrew Peterson in my ears (his Burning Light Of Dawn album is on repeat at the moment. Such bleakness coupled with such hope is balm to my soul). I’m musing on the year just gone. 2017 wasn’t a barrel full of laughs for many reasons and as I look ahead to 2018 I kind of want to sum it up, leave it behind and take a few things on with me.

2017 was a year of living in a long black tunnel. Husbandface was very ill for all of it. We didn’t know when or if he would get better. It was a year of coming to terms with this new known world of walking on in the dark. Nothing particularly dramatic happened, we got used to the familiar world of the immediate before our eyes and we trudged on.

For all that though it was a year of great light and hope in the dark. There were amazing things to be thankful for.

It was a year of friendship.

It was a year of knowing friends holding us. Most Saturdays people would come and visit, read stories to the boys, give me some space and people to talk to. Amazing friends bought us food once a month, listened to our dark and prayed hard. Lovely friends kept on crying out to God when it was too hard for us to. New people came alongside us and cared. Old old friends took our boys away for times so we could breathe. Family came and wept with us, whispered prayers in our ears and kept on holding on. Friends bought us amazing food for our freezer so we could have weeks of not having to think about meal planning. We have known so much love in our community in the dark this year. We are so grateful.

It was a year of adventure.

We had amazing times away this year, thanks to our incredible safety net family. We discovered camper vans and although we wished too much time away within YouTube videos of van conversions we also drove off for a month to get out of the tunnel for a bit. Space, air, outdoors and driving around with our safe place helped sustain us.

It was a year of self care.

I learnt slowly what I needed to sustain me in the dark. Time with the Maker of the world, time reading, time running out on the hills and eating well. Starting counselling helped put to words the struggle I have to feel worthy, of value. Noticing that struggle has helped in the journey to be secure and attached to the reality that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, a work of God, a poem sung from the start.

It was a year of weekly manna from church.

Each week, almost without fail, I would have 45 minutes of sitting without small ones listening to glimpses of reality. My soul was refreshed by the old old story expressed in different words and songs. We got to know new people, I spoke of reality from the front and remembered the love of my Heavenly parent all over again.

I remember reading Soul Bare at the beginning of last year. A book full of stories of dark times, redemption and hope. A phrase stood out from one of them. It told of a desire to know more of God whatever the circumstances around. I grabbed tight to that vision and still hold it for this coming year ahead.

Whatever happens.

Whatever life throws at us. I want to be found still in love with the one who first loved me. I want to know more of the divine in this world. I want to hold on until the morning. I want to know more and more of the anchor that holds me here. I want to be rooted in that love and live well in our lovely community from that love.

Here’s to the road ahead, I think it’s kind of appropriate that the journey starts with rest, a green pasture to lie in and remember the One who looks after me and my family. I rest knowing God is in charge. I lie down and sleep because he sustains me. I take my hand off the tiller and go below deck, confident that I have a greater pilot steering me through the night. (I mix my metaphors with confidence as ever ;))

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What I read in November/December

I thought I would get this one out of the way before I list my year in books. It’s been a slow reading time recently, I’m not sure why. Tiredness, exhaustion and a little too much addiction to scrolling through my phone may have had something to do with it. I’m planning on tackling the phone thing soon and I have about 10 Christmas books awaiting me to delve into in the next week or so. Hopefully my reading mojo will kick in again soon. But for now. Here are the few books I did manage to read at the end of 2017.

Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross- Malorie Blackman

I was really glad to find these lurking in our library after having read Noughts and Crosses a while ago. This is a brilliant series taking a different look at race. In this world black people make up the ruling classes and white the underprivileged minority. These books are a fascinating read and whilst the backdrop is pretty bleak I was grateful for slightly hopeful tones at the very end of the series.

The Circle- Dave Eggers

Having seen the Netflix adaptation I was curious to see what the book added. It’s a brilliant look at what happens when privacy is seen as completely antithetical to what makes a good and upright citizen. Why wouldn’t you want to share your whole life? What do you have to hide? Surely society is safer and less harmful if we all know what everyone is doing all the time? I loved this and hated it. It exposed my addiction to the little red like button and overwhelmed me with how much information I seem to randomly scroll through each day to try and keep up with …what? What am I trying to absorb and why? Oh so many good questions arise from this one. Go read and be disturbed. I was especially freaked out by the obsession with getting 100% positive feedback in the book. The protagonist starts out in customer service at The Circle and needs to be getting around 98% feedback from each encounter she has. If she doesn’t get the feedback she needs she has to go back and ask what she could improve on etc. I thought this was insane until we bought a car in real life a couple of months ago and the salesman said if we weren’t going to give 5 stars not to bother filling in the survey because they needed 100% positive feedback… A throughly disturbing read.

The Rosie Project- Graeme Simison

A fairly interesting book on how someone with Aspergers deals with life and finding love. A quirky light read.

Daring Greatly- Brene Brown.

I love this book so so much. If you haven’t read it go and do so now. It’s brilliant on how to live vulnerably and well in this world. It was my second time through and a great reminder that I have worth, I am valuable, I am enough and I can enter each situation in life with courage because of that foundation. This time through I was struck by the stuff on parenting and how we need to be the people we want our children to be. They need to see us living our values out and they need to see us grappling honestly with the gap between our values and the actual way we live. Brilliant stuff.

The Keeper of Lost Things- Ruth Hogan

I read this in a couple of afternoons and enjoyed a fairly light person finds redemption and love through a series of coincidences and meeting interesting people. Hmm. It’s a good one for train journeys, holiday reading or just if you want your brain to skip lightly across the story. I think there is a place for these kind of books (the more well written ones that is…)

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