a messy, complicated, beautiful story.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Majesty, majesty
Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed but alive in Your hands

Majesty, majesty
Forever I am changed by Your love
In the presence of Your majesty

~ Majesty (Here I Am) - Delirious


Let me tell you about the first time I went to church.

It wasn't the first time I ever, ever went to church. My parents were involved in the Canadian Veterans Association when I was a kid, and that involved a lot of memorial services in some beautiful, draughty, huge churches (my childhood was totally enriched by my parents' involvement in the CVA, by the way. I have many fond memories of our time with them).

I guess I really mean the first time I chose to go to church.

I was either seventeen or I had just turned eighteen. I don't really recall the conversation that led Chris to invite me, or the morning itself, I just remember feeling really nervous when we walked through the door.

To be honest, my first thought was that they were just way too happy and bubbly to be allowed. I wasn't used to being welcomed into a building. I wasn't used to being cheek-kissed and hand-shaken by people waiting in a line to do just that.

Not sure what to make of that, I just about recovered when it was time for worship.

And that's when I thought, right, that's it, I'm in a building full of weirdos.

I knew that Chris had faith and that it wasn't easy, black-and-white, and that he wasn't perfect. I knew this because he told me. I asked him a million questions when I first realised he wore a cross around his neck for a reason, not just for decoration. I just couldn't comprehend it. Why would you believe in something like this? The fact that I happily and readily admitted to believing in ghosts, karma, the supernatural and a vague idea of God existing in some form or other didn't seem to matter - this just seemed completely alien to me. A real, church-going, Bible-reading Christian, only a few years older than me. It was just a whole other world.

But goodness, the worship. First of all: how beautifully talented our worship band is. I'll never forget the first time I heard them and I realised that not all churches were all about organs and tambourines (although they have their place). We had people on guitars, drums, we had beautiful singers. And we still do. Every Sunday I'm thankful for them. And I was totally surprised by them on that first day.

Second of all: what the heck were these people doing waving their arms in the air?

Every Sunday for a good while, I watched as people flung their arms up and mine seemed to lock into position by my sides, and I felt my mouth go dry as I became paralysed with worry and self-conciousness. Would anyone notice if I didn't raise my hands? The first few times, I felt myself going red at the sheer passion and emotion on their faces as they closed their eyes and sang. I was in full-on, self-protection, barriers-up, image-to-maintain mode at the time. I couldn't imagine not caring what people thought about me in that way.

But it bothered me.

Because as cringe-worthy as I found it to see them acting, to be honest, a little bit mad, I also found it incredibly compelling. There was something so beautiful, freeing, and somehow haunting about it. It gave me the shivers to see these people obviously overwhelmed with love and joy and ... something I couldn't put my finger on.

I'm not easily swayed. Especially back then. I first attended church at one of the happiest times of my life (falling in love) and yet ironically I was at my most broken. My relationship with Chris may have been wonderful, but I unfortunately came with a lot of baggage. Yes, even as a teenager. By the age of seventeen I was worn out, I had been heartbroken, I had seen almost everything that you could get up to as a teenager (and participated in a lot of it), in some ways I was cynical and world-weary. Nights of hanging out on the streets and in people's houses dressing up in clothes that made me uncomfortable and drinking will do that to you. And I was considered the good one out of all of us. I guess being short and looking young and innocent had something to do with it.

A little bit hardened, I suppose you could have called me. And quite fragile.

I had so many doubts. I didn't trust it. I didn't trust God, not initially. I felt like I wasn't nearly good or innocent enough for Him. Why would God be interested in me? And if He was, why didn't He tell me so before?

After years of being bullied for being different, I can tell you right now that I wasn't that interested in anything that would mark me as different or weird. I would have been quite happy spending the rest of my life trying to fade in to the background. I didn't want to embark upon something that would make people judge me or look at me differently.


Fast forward a few years and I'm getting married in that church and, in front of everyone I know and love, I'm waving my hands in the air and singing my heart out.

How on earth did that happen? How did I go from heartbroken and cynical to healed and whole and rescued?

A miracle, I guess.

Today I sat cross-legged on the floor in my living room. My baby rolled around on the floor in front of me, chatting and showing off. Her BFF, Baby V, was enjoying a quick snooze upstairs. Meanwhile, myself and two friends were reminiscing. How did we first meet? When did we first start going to church? It made me smile to look back on our short histories so far, and to remember how we had (separately) prayed to make new friends, and how God brought us together.

I felt blessed. There's something holy, I feel, when three people sit in awe and just bask in the goodness of what God has done. Even though we're not thanking Him outright - we are marvelling at His work. Two of us with babies. One friend about to embark upon an entirely new adventure as well. Another in the midst of settling roots deep into a new city, making new connections, finding her place and flourishing in her new role.

As I get older, I find other people's faith histories much more exciting than I used to. Because when I first became a Christian, it was all so overwhelmingly about what had happened to me. I was so amazed by it all, by the huge changes that were happening in my life, that I barely gave a thought to what was happening to anyone else. Surely, I thought, surely every single little thing about my life is going to completely change, right from this moment.

I didn't see God's work as I do now. I think, then, I saw it all as a huge sudden tornado, sweeping through my life and (sometimes awkwardly) rearranging it all. I didn't see it as a long game. I didn't see life with Jesus as a steady walk with lots of dips and swerves, ups and downs. I didn't see that God might teach me things by allowing me to go through difficult times; I didn't see that through sad or stressful circumstances, He might be tempering my character, helping me to grow. I didn't see that not everything would work out perfectly and magically, that every prayer wouldn't be automatically answered.

I didn't realise that I wouldn't just magically become good. It wasn't like flicking a switch from 'sinful' to 'holy'. That some habits were (and remain) very hard to break. That there are things in the world that are very tempting. Sometimes more tempting than God's awesome promises. That sometimes I'd be weak. (Alright, a lot of times). That sometimes I would let Him down.

I didn't understand that it would be like this, this crazy journey of falling madly in love, but also sometimes falling scarily away. I didn't understand that sometimes He would ask me to do things that I don't feel ready for (and have realised since that sometimes you just can't be ready for everything. The only way to prepare is to experience). I didn't understand that not every conversation with future friends would be praising God; that we would also share tears, confusion, pain. That sometimes I would dare to ask 'What is God doing with this?'

And yet. I didn't see how beautiful life would be. I didn't see the miracles that would come, almost dropped casually into the fabric of my life as though they are perfectly normal. I didn't see that I would have friends with whom talking about the presence and power of God in our lives would follow naturally on from conversations about what we had for breakfast. I didn't see how perfect God's timing would be, down to the last millisecond; how beautiful it is that we have free will, to do what we like, and yet still He knows and understands us. I didn't understand that yes, while there would be times of darkness and attack and falling away, there would be times of reconciliation more beautiful than anything else I've ever experienced. I didn't know that there would be nothing too deep, painful, or dark that can't be not only healed, but transformed - and used for His good purposes.

Joy. Breathtaking joy. That's what I've felt. And although I might not feel it as keenly every day, or express it every day - some days, there is nothing else to feel except that joy unspeakable. And no matter what my emotions might be saying, no matter what life might be throwing at me, the truth of God and His love for me always beats steady, the same.

I didn't realise how real it would be. Not just a concept or some sort of insurance policy so that I'll definitely get into heaven. But real. Life impacting. Life transforming.

It wasn't an easy decision for me to make to continue coming to church. I was very stubborn. And it's been a long journey. If I could put it into a picture, it would be this:

Journal after journal spilling over, expressing it all. Awe and wonder and confusion, hurts healed, love above all else, and a small person in a huge world, trying to capture my tiny role in God's grand plan.

So now, I love hearing from other people. I love listening. I love asking questions. How did you feel? Did you ever doubt? What was that miracle, that struggle, that moment like for you? What did God do next? Sometimes I long to just sit at the feet of people that have walked this path before and pepper them with questions and ask them for wisdom.

I once wrote a little note on Facebook, something along the lines of Ten Things I'd Tell My Sixteen Year Old Self. All good points - don't worry, everything will work out okay, you'll meet someone wonderful, this problem will fix itself, you will grow, etc. But really, when it comes down to it, if I could meet the girl I once was, the girl who looked at the beautiful church looming ahead of her, heart in her mouth and butterflies in her stomach, I'd say something like this:

You won't believe who's already working in your life right now. Who you will encounter when you step into this building.

Run at Him like your life depends on it.

You won't regret it.

7 Quick Takes Friday #1 - What on earth am I going to write about

Friday, 25 April 2014

I follow a great blog, Conversion Diary (which I will talk more about in a moment), by Jennifer Fulwiler, the talented writer/mother of six/atheist-turned-Catholic/general superwoman. Jennifer has a series of posts called '7 Quick Takes Friday' which is basically a seven-part collection of thoughts/rambles which people can sign up to join in with. I've decided to join in too. (Again I will talk more about this below). They will mostly be short little snippets of life stuff and links to other cooler things.

Does that make sense? Check out a Seven Quick Takes post at Conversion Diary which will most definitely be funnier and more eloquent than mine. ;)

So here goes my first one!


This is my current ten-step blog writing strategy:
  1. Open laptop with every good intention of writing something
  2. Look at the cursor blinking on the blank page and suddenly forget everything I wanted to say
  3. Chew lip
  4. Shrug and close laptop
  5. Repeat for two to three weeks
  6. On a day and time when it is least convenient (i.e. after a night of no sleep with a cranky baby, or on a bus journey/walk with no means of writing anything down) suddenly have a burst of inspiration and have three blog posts flowing through my head at once
  7. Try to get posts onto computer ignoring child/husband as much as is reasonably possible
  8. Feel temporary smug glow at own productiveness
  9. Swear to never again let it go so long without writing a blog post
  10. Start process again from step one.
Which is why I've signed up to this blog thing. I'm not entirely sure I can think of seven things to say every week. Some of it might be what I've eaten for breakfast. Or I might just flop my head onto the keyboard and call it abstract writing.


Lack of sleep can sometimes make you do crazy things.

It seems I have jinxed the whole 'our-baby-sleeps-through-the-night' thing because we are now back to at least one cuddle/milk/nappy run a night, and I'm not sure how to proceed really, but it does make things really difficult. Sleeping in the day isn't an option when your baby doesn't want to nap.

Anyway, after my third failed attempt at getting Baby B to have a nice snooze, I gave up trying, and plonked her in the buggy to go for a walk instead. I decided to nip to the shops and buy something that you take out of a packet and shove in the oven for dinner. When I left, I was in a bit of a state - almost falling asleep on my feet, hair sticking up in all directions, massive bags under my eyes, on the cusp of bursting into funny-afterwards-but-not-at-the time tears - but by the time I got back, the baby was asleep and I was feeling so peaceful and happy. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we've found out that there's a nice short cut through the park to the shops.

The view on the way home was so beautiful that I had to stop and admire it for a minute. I went back a couple of days later first thing in the morning to take a picture, and here it is:

Right on my doorstep. Thank you God.


I have updated the 'blogs I follow' page, which you can also find by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. I follow a few really good blogs, Conversion Diary included. They are definitely worth looking at.


I bought these this week:

Apparently it is salsify (other root vegetables are available) but I haven't cooked it yet and I think I might have just paid for a bunch of sticks.


Go check out Adam Flare's awesomely funky debut album. You won't regret it!

As a side note, the Google Image results for Adam Flare are quite diverse:

Yes, whilst writing this I was also reading Adam Buxton's website and calling out instructions for flapjacks to my husband in the kitchen (who is in a baking mood). And yes, I did have to Google how to take a screen capture. Like a pro. ;)


I did some gardening - the pile of rubbish in one corner of the garden has now been slightly rearranged and placed in another corner of the garden! Yay!

On the plus side, hanging up washing on the line makes me feel quite accomplished. Why is this?



Charlie Brooker's scathing review of Masterchef made me literally lol.

So that's it! Have a good week. More profound thoughts another time, maybe.

baby bellies and bare faces.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I was surprised to see myself jumping on the no make-up selfie bandwagon last month.

True confession time: I don't usually like the 'share-this-if-you-love-this' thing on Facebook. I (for probably obvious reasons) really, really disliked the Neknominate thing that happened earlier this year, although I did warm to it a little more when I saw a friend filming herself enjoying a nice cup of tea. I don't tend to join in when these things go around. And when I first saw people's faces popping up, foundation-free, on Facebook, with the whole 'I'm-doing-this-for-cancer' ethos attached to them my first thought was: how stupid. How is that going to help beat cancer?!

And then I bothered to read on. People were donating as well as taking pictures. The pictures were just a catalyst to get people to text. I've read some pretty scathing opinions about the no make-up selfie thing, usually along the lines of 'Look how narcissistic we are that we can't give to charity without plastering our faces over Facebook and publicly declaring it' but hey - it worked, and Cancer Research UK are now £2 million better off because of it.

Second true confession time: I already had a no make-up selfie on my Kindle (always be prepared!). It was for a blog post I had been thinking about, and am still thinking about, to the point where I'm kind of writing it today. And so when I was nominated, I popped it onto Facebook and felt a warm fuzzy glow at being part of something that raised so much money for charity.

And do you know what? I liked seeing all these women popping up on my Facebook feed bare-faced. I liked the ballsiness that came with it. It felt a bit like rebellion against social norms. Because for as many beautiful women I know that wear little or no make-up day to day and feel completely happy and confident for it, I know more that have to put it on every day. And it's scary to let the whole world see your face without anything on it.

That includes me.

Third true confession time: this is what I feel it takes to make me look less like a washed-out zombie child every morning:

It's probably a lot less than some people, and I still get frustrated when I look at photos of myself and see that I look washed-out despite all of the above items, but I refuse to go down the contouring-highlighting-bronzing-eyebrow filling road, because it takes long enough already.

Before you start feeling sorry for me - don't. I don't really mind the way I look. Sometimes I wear less make-up, sometimes I wear more. Generally I've accepted that I am who I am, and apart from the odd wobble day, I feel happy about what I look like.

But I do wonder.

I wonder what my life would look like if I had that ten minutes a day back. Ten minutes a day. That's seventy minutes a week. That's 3,640 minutes a year. That equates to (if I have worked this out right) roughly 2.5 days a year.

2.5 DAYS.

I wonder what our need to paint our faces says about us. What it says about society and pressure. What it says about our freedom. Yes, we have the freedom to choose. Yes, make-up makes me feel good. Yes, I (sometimes) enjoy the ritual of putting it on before I go out for an evening because I feel I'm anticipating something that's worth dressing up for.

But do I enjoy it when I have to get out of bed earlier to do it? Do I enjoy it when I'm trying to not poke myself in the eye with mascara while the baby whinges because she's bored/tired/hungry?

Do I enjoy the fact that I am at the point where I feel like I have to wear it?


Which leads me to this.

True confession number four: I have a really old dressing table. An elderly couple gave it to my Dad, who then gave it to me. They bought it sometime in the 40's. This dressing table is potentially seventy years old. This is completely irrelevant to the confession, but no-one ever gets to see my ancient dressing table because it's hidden under a pile of junk in the spare bedroom that is forbidden to visitors so I never get to show off about it.

Anyway. This is what my body, almost-eight-months-post-giving-birth, looked like when I snapped it in the dressing table mirror today:

Spanx-free selfie!

Admittedly I have good and bad days with my strange ever-changing belly and this is one of the not-so-good days, but still. I've been complimented quite a few times on how quickly I lost my baby weight. I took the compliments well (I guess I'm good at hiding the tummy, by the way). Because we do mean it well, don't we? It's seen as a great thing if we immediately lose those extra fleshy bits. And despite everything I wrote about in my last post about body-image-issues, you know, all that nice stuff about how I quite like the extra weight I'm putting on, I don't really like the baby belly.

I can't even really call it a baby belly because there's no baby in it (I repeat: there is DEFINITELY no baby in it). But I'm aware of it. Not to the point where it upsets me, but to the point where I think a little more carefully about what I'm wearing (case in point: I would not have gone out today only wearing that top. Although that is partially because I'd be far too cold). In fact, it was only a few days ago that I was shopping for a wedding outfit with my sister-in-law and I was saying 'I can't wear that because of the baby belly.'

It doesn't bother me too much, and to be honest, I'm not motivated enough to start doing crunches every day to try and shift it. But it really, really bothers other women. There are 118 million results on Google for 'how to lose baby weight'. There's a whole section in the People magazine website called 'Body After Baby' so we can closely study how the celebrities drop the weight. There are people like the 'No Excuse Mom' who tell us that, no, motherhood is NOT an excuse to not have a flat stomach. 

And do you remember when Kate Middleton had George? There was this flurry of excitement about it when she stepped out of that hospital looking quite impossibly beautiful, but also, sporting a little tummy. People responded to this because she felt real. We could connect to a woman who was unafraid of (gasp!) daring not only to have a bit of a tummy a few days after giving birth, but also because she wasn't afraid to show it. When Hello! magazine printed the headline 'Kate's post-baby weight loss regime' the next day, there was a backlash against it. People felt defensive of her. Leave Kate alone! She's only just had a baby! etc.

A little while later, though, the headlines were back again. Just three months later, Kate is showing off her post-baby body in skinny jeans (or, you know, just wearing them) and the magazines are talking about it again. How did she do it? And the message is clear. A few days after birth? Baby bump is allowed. Three months later? Probably time to start working to get rid of it.

I don't think we've progressed as women, as much as we think we have. Because I am reading very mixed-messages in the media about women, and not just celebrity gossip media either. Do you notice how much we focus on beautiful young women? 'You can be just as smart, accomplished, and talented as men, but for goodness' sake don't you dare look old or fat doing it.'

And isn't it sad that this is what the beautiful, wonderful, mysterious nature of motherhood is reduced to? How quickly can you get rid of the proof that it ever happened? How quickly can you go back to pretending you're still a skinny twenty-year old? How fast can you prove that you are more than just a mother?

Just to be clear. I'm not saying we shouldn't be trying to keep fit, or be healthy. If we're honest, most of us could stand to do a little (or a lot) more exercise. And I'm not about to jump on the 'real women have curves' bandwagon! Some women just drop the weight and that's that. Some women are naturally slim. And that's fine. Some women really enjoy wearing make-up (as do I some of the time) and that's fine too. I'm not about to jump on the 'smart women don't have time to wear make-up' thing. I think we should be able to wear blusher and still use our brains. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look nice.

And I know this all sounds harsh. But I'm speaking to myself as much as anyone else. I know plenty of women that give little time or thought to this sort of thing, and that's fine. But statistics tell me that they are uncommon: according to this study, 90% of British adult women feel body-image anxiety. Given that percentage, shouldn't we be discussing it? Or even thinking about it? Questioning what we consider to be normal and whether what we read or watch is damaging us or other people? Or why we're putting on make-up every day?

If we don't, then what will that percentage be like when our daughters grow up?

Why are we all so intent on following what the media tells us is acceptable? Why do we feel that it's only okay to go make-up-free if we're doing it for charity? Why are there whole sections of gossip websites dedicated JUST to celebrities post-baby bodies and why on earth are women reading them?! (Not all women, obviously. But enough of them to warrant the articles about it).

I don't know. And I don't know what to do about it. I'm not sure how to square my inner knowledge that I am actually beautiful, no-make-up-face-with-baby-belly and all, with the fact that I still need to apply mascara before I go out in the mornings. I'm not sure that I like myself for doing or feeling these things, but at the same time I'm not about to step out of the house completely bare-faced any time soon.

I just wish we didn't need so many articles about it. On how to lose the flab and how to dress and apply your make-up so you look better. I wish that women embracing how they look naturally, with no make-up or photoshopping, wasn't such a shocking or headline-grabbing thing. I wish that there weren't people out there taking photographs of people's stomachs. And I wish that women wouldn't want to read about it.

And I wish people would write - and read, and be comforted by - things like this:

'First of all, our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want a very dinged and dinted body. Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages.' - Rachel Jankovic - 'Loving the Little Years.'

I'm not sure that there is a neat answer to this. But I know that the next time I look at my baby belly and I think about sighing, I'm going to try and praise God for my healthy body instead. And the next time I see an article explaining how the latest famous-for-some-reason person has achieved a flat stomach three days after giving birth, I'm going to loudly and defiantly turn away from it instead. Like a teenager having a strop. That kind of thing.

Maybe you'll give it a go with me? We could start a 'we're-going-to-treasure-our-bodies-in-their-different-seasons' craze. And maybe a 'we're-not-reading-these-trashy-magazines-and-websites-anymore' revolution. ;)

why I think the internet is quite good

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

I've spoken about this a lot (a lot), but nowhere near as often as I've heard it said by other mothers. Always said in the same tone. It sounds kind of wistful. A mixture of sadness for a time that is gone, but fondness of the memories that it has left. And although I've heard it expressed in different ways, the general theme is always the same:

'Oh, it goes by way too fast.'
'It goes too quickly.'
'It just flew by when mine were little.'
'Enjoy them while they're young! Before you know it they'll be grown up.'

And I understand it now. I have joined the legions of mothers before me that watch, astonished, as their little babies suddenly stop being little babies any more. Chubby thighs and arms turn into long, dangly limbs ... the dimples disappear, and hair gets longer ... jeans become too short, and you swear you only bought them five minutes ago, how could they have grown so much already?

Admittedly I'm in the midst of the very precious, very small baby stage, but the same principle applies. Every Monday, I sit Baby B in her high chair, look at our diary and sort out what's happening in the week and I think, Wow, another Monday, she's another week older. I guess it's because she was born on a Monday, and when they're tiny, everything is measured in weeks, but I'm very aware of them, and they don't stop for anyone.

It got me thinking, as usual, about the whole treasure-the-moment and anticipate-the-future and remember-the-past balance that we have to somehow get right. Whether you have children or not. Time ticks away, doesn't it? And I live in an age where cataloguing memories is as easy as it gets. I've lost count of how many photos I've taken of our baby (in the hundreds maybe?) and there are countless video clips to look back on. It's not just something exclusive to parents, either. We do it with everything. We photograph our meals, make playlists that remind us of every occasion, we take selfies in every imaginable location on earth (nowhere is too exotic to bring an iPhone).

It's easy to be quite pessimistic about it. To blame our self-obsession and narcissism on our need to check in everywhere, to document, to exhibit the places we've been and the things we've done. It's easy to watch what's happening with communication, with technology, with this never-ending stream of information, and wonder how our children will grow up, whether they will have attention spans that hold longer than a few minutes, whether we will lose something of local life and community and tradition because everything between cultures is shared.

When you see relationships breaking down over Facebook you wonder what all this technology is doing to our ability to connect with each other. Whether each service that makes it easier to connect also destroys. You start to play the comparison game, too. Look at how many places that person has been to. Look how active their social life is. Look how beautiful her children are. Look how wonderful their life is.

There's a danger that we would start to live our lives for that very reason. That we would collect experiences and moments not to appreciate them, but for others to appreciate them, and how can we tell if we've crossed that line?

I find this to be true of blogs. I read some particularly gorgeous blogs, not just for their words but for their pictures. Beautiful homes, beautiful children, beautiful women, captured in the most exquisite detail. And you start to imagine that life. You buy into other people's beautiful lives, and although sometimes you might envy them, you are in awe of how stunning these people are. How perfect the moments and the details.

You could look at these photographs and think that I have a perfect life. That I spend my days lounging around playing with my happy, beautiful baby, bathed in golden light, presumably with uplifting, poignant music playing in the background. You wouldn't know that on that day, I'd spoken stern words to that same baby about a) whinging b) attempting to pull her bib off and almost strangling herself in the process and c) trying to eat my phone. You wouldn't know that I had a horrendous head/tooth/eye ache, partially caused by being woken three times in the night. You wouldn't know that I'd sat on our bed the evening before, listening to her cry in the next room, knowing it's best in the long run but fighting back the emotion rising in my throat and the instinct to run to her and scoop her up, saving teaching-her-to-settle-herself for another day.

You wouldn't know that, after playing, she didn't simply roll over and fall asleep, but had a meltdown instead due to over-tiredness, and I had to walk back and forth rocking her for fifteen minutes before she would finally settle down.

Because we don't necessarily want to capture or remember those bits. We don't want to record our fears over our health and our finances and our relationships, we don't want to capture the mundane and the boring. We whip the cameras and smartphones out for the moments we want to celebrate. And haven't we always done that? Isn't that why people keep hold of things? A flower, dried, given on a first date, concert tickets, festival wristbands. Memorabilia, scrappy little objects that piece together a narrative of us.

While everything in life involves some kind of balance, especially the use of social media (whether that be how much you go on it, how involved you become in it, or how much you share) I am grateful for it. This week, I have heard the news of a young mother I knew in real life dying of cancer, and of another young mother I don't know in real life dying suddenly of unexplained causes. Bad news, heartbreaking news, is everywhere, and it needs to be reflected on, to be mourned.

But to see people sharing beautiful, happy moments is something to enjoy. I am pleased to see people I knew from school achieving great things, finding love, having beautiful children, visiting amazing places. I like to see people celebrating life. Not pretending the hard times wont come, but taking the time to be grateful for the good bits.

I am especially grateful for the technology to capture a beautiful moment, for me to remember - not just to share later. We lounged around playing, bathed in golden light. Uplifting and poignant music was playing in the background (we were listening to Phil Wickham's album, Ascension, which as a side note is really good). And after playing and being silly, I let her lay there on our bed playing with her toys and I got out her little hospital wristbands and wondered how she was ever small enough for them to fall off whenever I changed her.

I marvelled at it all, with that ancient mix of a big amount of happiness, a fair amount of wistfulness and a little bit of mild panic at the feeling of time slipping through my fingers. And when I look at these pictures I will remember. My baby girl, rolling around on our bed looking so happy at her accomplishments, giggling and gurgling and playing by herself. And her mother watching on with a smile, breathing thanks to God for another day together, another day to be alive.

I'm glad I can record it and share it. I'm glad people can read it. I'm glad to celebrate the beautiful blessings God has given, and to be able to openly thank Him for it.

And so for all its shortcomings, I think the internet can be quite good. ;)
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