Advent 19

It’s that time of year when I get to say we used to look like this:

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And now we look like this:

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Still smiling like goons.

Today marks the end of our first decade together. 10 years ago we set out on a snowy morning towards a church in Hove. Family and friends waited in the freezing cold to watch us say/cry to each other that this was it. The end of two separate stories. The start of another story together. 

All the way through our very short engagement I had the image in my mind of us in a waiting room, one side made up of glass. Through that glass we could see out across a new world, hills, valleys, forests, mountains, rivers and lakes stretched out before us. The room had two doors. One back to the world we had come from and one forward into this new one. The forward door had a time lock on it counting down to December 19th 2009. 

On that day 10 years ago we made big promises to each other as we opened the door to the future. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health we would love and be for each other. We gave ourselves to each other. All that we have. For the other. We stepped through the door and entered this new land. 

And what a land it has been. Full of wonder, sunlight streaming down, full of laughing, hoping and dreaming as we’ve walked through it together. And full of raging storms, endless fog, trudging weary moments. Full of waiting for each other when it got too hard, full of being joined by two small companions in the journey. 

The land feels deeper and more real the more we have meandered through it together. The more we explore, the more we see how big it is. The more we journey together the more we see the depths and richness of each other. 

I love this companion of mine. I am in awe of how we were joined together all those years ago. I am amazed that out of situations of lack and little hope that his hand found its way into mine. I am so deeply grateful for the ways journeying with him has changed me. I love his influence on my life, the ways he cares and encourages me to flourish. 

I love his generous caring heart. I love his bouncy brain which loves new things and I love his deep need for routine and the safety of home. I love the complexity which makes him him. I love the way he helps make us more than the sum of just one plus one. I love his ridiculous sense of humour. I love his warmth, his optimism and his beautiful face. 

I love that we are working on this life together. I love being team with him and I’m still in for winning the fight to be for each other. I feel like I’ve  benefitted enormously from his energy in helping me own my voice, be more who I am each day and honouring me for who I am. I hope I do some of the same for him. 

I love that our Maker brought us together, I have no other explanation for the bizarre way we met and the ways love was born. I love, and know, that our Maker has helped us love and hold on to each other in the ups and downs of these years. 

I could say more but this is probably enough for you to get the idea that I’m very grateful for the last decade of our lives together and immensely glad of the next one ahead of us. 

I’ll leave you with a somewhat left field choice of song to sum up my feelings at the moment. Teo Torriatte by Queen. It’s a song I’ve been replaying over and over again this year. It’s last chorus pretty much sums up all I feel. 

“Let us cling together as the years go by, oh my love my love, in the quiet of the night, let our candle always burn, let us never lose the lessons we have learnt”. 

Lots of the last few years have felt like clinging on in the quiet of the night and I think we are better for it. This song also has big wondrous loud choruses which express that the clinging sung about is full of joy and gladness.  I too am full of joy and gladness because of the last 10 years of being married to my favourite and best. So raise your glasses to the lovely husbandface and here’s to the next 10 years. 

Full disclosure: We also irritate each other, get grumpy, still have no idea how to manage or indeed have conflict and could do with many lessons on how to communicate. But he’s mine and I’m his and onward we go. 

 

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Advent 18

No pictures today but here’s one of my favourite carols sung in a very beautiful way.

Wonder:

Coffee.

Son1’s Christmas performance. He showed excellent Robin dancing skills.

Walking in the dark down the road, past the house where 10 years ago I gazed at the snow out of the window and wondered how the next 24 hours would go.

10 years since we stood on the doorstep of a whole new world.

The anticipation of time away, a green pasture to lie in for 30 hours or so.

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Advent 17

Finishing the Christmas shopping.

Pausing for an hour with my Spiritual Director. Noticing the work of God over these last few weeks. Noticing the good. Noticing change and positivity in my language.

The end of the sunset on the horizon.

Bowling and dinner out with the lovely team I work with.

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Advent 16

I like reposting this blog post which I wrote 5 years ago now. It sums up so much of Advent for me and is really for all those who are battling through the early years of small people. It gets better, it changes, but here are some things that still keep me warm on cold dark December nights. (frustratingly my ache for friends not to be going through dark times, more clarity for my lovely brother and family and world peace are still things high on my shouting at God for more of list.) Also it kind of proves that I only have one idea about joy as lots of this made it into my talk yesterday morning.

A God who fell down, and cried, and was sad…

sad christmasAnd so we’ve made it, to the last Sunday in Advent, to the end of term and the start of the holidays. We’ve made it to this strange land of Christmas. To be honest I’m not feeling it this year. I’m too much in a haze, my brain exploding with thoughts of moving house (don’t get me started on how odd and surprising that feels right now) and the weirdness of not having slept for more than 2 hours in a row for 10 weeks. 

Christmas feels a far away event, something to be gazed at through frosted panes of glass. However, the myriad of fairy lights outside houses around our city reminds me that something is happening. Son1 points out to me the characters in the nativity daily: kingandkingandshepherdandmaryjosephanddonkeyandcamelandpresentandpresent
andbabyjesus. There is something going on, however remote it feels.

There is something going on which helps make sense of this strange walking through treacle land I find myself in, which helps me keep on plodding through the dark. 

It’s that old word again, Emmanuel. God with us. God with man is now residing. The Maker of all has stepped into the darkness and the darkness doesn’t know what to do. In the midst of aching hearts, weary bodies and confusing times we have a God who knows what it’s like to be in our shoes. 

John1:14 says it all:
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us
The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us.

Son1 has read his beginners bible book about the cross so many times (so much that I am sick of it…which feels wrong…) that every time he sees a cross shape he pronounces loudly that ‘Jesus died on the cross’. Interestingly he then recites his own little narrative of what happened next: ‘then fall down, then Jesus cry, then Jesus sad’. It’s the same narrative he recites when he has hurt himself. ‘E fall down, then E cry, then E sad.’ He’s teaching me something of what it means for Jesus to be human. Jesus knows everything my little weirdo toddler has been through and has been through it himself. He knows our pain and he came to ultimately do something about it and about our immediate problem which oddly is bigger than our pain. 

The trouble is I don’t think there is a problem bigger than my pain. I just want sleep, I want my mates not to go through what they are going through, I want a clear and certain future for my brother and his family. I want world flipping peace whilst we are at it. I’m with the Jews- give me a messiah who is going to sort my immediate situation out. What’s the use if he doesn’t?

What could be more important? 

And this is where the words get weak and frail and I can’t really believe them as I write. Apparently we do have a bigger problem. A rift between the Creator and Created that needs to be healed. A new creation that needs to be kick started. Life and death stuff that the birth, life and death of a baby 2000 years ago dealt with. 

There are reasons for rejoicing in the mess and uncertainty of this world but I think it’s a minor key kind of rejoicing. There is a Saviour. There is hope. There is a final day when all the sad will be made untrue but there is a whole lot of confusion and pain right now that doesn’t get sorted out. It’s a wintery joy. A pale sun shining through winter trees showing the hope of summer in the chill of winter. 

That’s all I’ve got right now, a whole load of confusion, mess and fear. Winter is around.

But the seasons change. I don’t understand many things but I cling to the hope of the tender mercy of our God. A God I do not understand and cannot feel right now, but a God who took on flesh, who fell down and cried and was sad. He’s here. Emmanuel. And so we rejoice in that minor key of weary hope. 

Emmanuel has come to us. 

Emmanuel is here.

And so we have Sufjan Stevens and his rather wintery singing of O Come O Come Emmanuel.

(Rather entertainingly son1 also likes to wander around the house singing Rejoice, Rejoice, Samuel is here… that would bring a whole different meaning to Christmas eh…)

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Advent 15

Getting to do my talk on joy (I only really have one) with loads of Lord of the Rings, John 1, Isaiah 25 and Revelation 21. We have a God who came, comes to us in the mess of this life and will come again. A God who has given us a beautiful world to enjoy and point us to our Maker. We have light in the dark and our Emmanuel has come. Just about held it together.

The the wonder and chaos of our all age Christmas service, prayers brought to the manger and the joy of working in a team.

Home to sloe gin and tonic and Masterchef.

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Advent 14

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Finding the wonder in:

Morning 10k run to the sea. Sunshine streaming through the big fat clouds. Bacon sandwiches in the van. Putting the boys in front of Nativity and watching their joy. Finally thinking the sermon for tomorrow might possibly okish. Finally having neighbours around for mulled wine and mince pies, we’ve been planning that ever since we moved in almost 5 years ago. Grateful for the changes which mean we have some capacity this year. Evening TV with my favourite and best.

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Advent 13

All I’ve got is this video:

And this quote:

“Hope is like the sun. If you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night.” – Princess Leia

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