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):

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

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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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Advent 17

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An old friend just posted verses from Isaiah 46 on Facebook. They are exactly what I need to hear right now.

After holding things together for so long I can feel myself unravelling. I am allowing myself space to cry and feel the pain of the last few years. I think I need to do this to get to a potential space away from mere survival mode. I’m excited to see what might be on the other side in that land, but I don’t want to miss being held in the now.

Because.

We have a God who carries us.

I am held.

I am, I have been, I will be: carried safely.

In a state of exhaustion these words speak tender hope as I hold my small child hands up and get picked up and carried in strong everlasting arms.

Isaiah 46:

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

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Advent 16

Christmas Nativity.

Watching Elf.

Singing Joy to the World twice in one day.

Slowly falling apart. Because it appears I can.

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Advent 15

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Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
waited patiently for theLord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
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