7 quick takes #10 - heat and such

Friday, 25 July 2014

1.

It's ridiculously hot. It's got to the point where it is frankly too hot. This morning I had a shower, felt refreshed, got dressed, and by the time I had gotten myself dressed I was sweating. The heat has brought the baby out in a heat rash even though she's been practically naked for the past few days as I can't stand the thought of putting anything on her. We went for a day out this week, and despite all the care and consideration I took with protecting my baby from the sun (you know, applying suncream to every centimetre of exposed skin, triple-knotting her hat under her chin so it won't come off, that sort of thing) that I totally forgot about putting any suncream on myself and I am now sunburnt.

2.

I mean, red-and-white striped sunburnt. You can see it on my Twitter feed to the left of this post. So, so stupid!

3.

The good thing about the heat is that it means that we've had some really lovely evenings. Part of our elaborate convincing-the-baby-to-sleep routine now includes 'taking her to the park to exhaust her before bed', and we're all loving that part of the evening, sitting on the grassy hill overlooking the play area, watching her crawl around and attempt to eat things she shouldn't, all whilst bathed in the lovely evening light. We plan to do this as much as possible now while the weather is good enough.

4.

Plus - it actually works! By the time we get home she is ready to fill up with milk and go to sleep. I don't know why we didn't try it before.

5.

Whilst we were there tonight, a couple of little boys walked past us, one of them pushing a bike, the other wielding a tin can balanced on a stick. They were totally immersed in play (something to do with fighting, I think. There were a lot of whooshing sword noises and the word 'training' was mentioned more than once). It was really sweet. It's nice to see kids playing with things they have found instead of toys or electronic things (although I think some of the things they could find in our park might not be too safe for playing with).

6.

There was a family fun day at the park today, and on the way home from the shops I could hear a little boy singing karaoke. He was singing a One Direction song and I think his thought process must have been along the lines of 'Well, everyone's watching, so I'm gonna give it everything I've got.' When I got to my front door, I could still hear him, and he had stepped it up even further somehow. It was like capillary-bursting-lung-straining yelling. Go kid!

It reminded me of this:


Which never ever fails to make me laugh.

7.

I watched this programme about child geniuses, where Mensa members can enter a child genius of the year competition (or something like that). It was kind of interesting, but sort of scary. At one stage of the contest the children had an hour to memorize the order of a randomly shuffled pack of cards.

Two of them memorized the order of the whole pack.

I can't even remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

Really, though, my tiny inferior brain is killing TV time before this:


And this:


Also, YES to permanent Claudia Winkleman co-hosting!



I luffs her and all her fringey awkardness.

That's it. Happy Friday, everyone :)

faith and pain

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

This past week has been heavy.

Sitting down to write this, I'm hesitating a little bit. I don't feel at all qualified to talk about this. But I can't seem to move on without writing about it. On Friday, I sat down after a particularly bad nights' sleep and having watched a long, terrible news report that made me feel sick. And I couldn't do it. I couldn't write seven quick takes, I couldn't watch anything on the TV that wasn't the news, because I felt a bit sick at how trivial everything was.

Now the air has cleared a bit and I can think properly. I hope this comes out right.

It's been a terrible week, hasn't it? My mind is filled with the flashes of images I've seen over the past few days. Bombs dropping. People being carried away in stretchers. Smouldering, charred, twisted pieces of plane strewn for miles.

It's harder for me now because I'm a Mum, and I don't mean that in a smug, mothers-are-better-than-non-mothers way. I mean it in a I-didn't-care-before-because-I-was-stupid, and-having-a-child-is-what-it-took-to-learn kind of way. (Sorry for all the dashes). Of course I cared, but now I care to an extent that is kind of painful. I can't shake the image I saw of a little Palestinian baby, probably around the same age as ours, having been caught up in an attack. His tiny hands were trembling as he cried, eyes darting around in panic, and the news reporter explained he probably had internal injuries. When they showed images of children's toys and books and juice bottles in the wreckage of flight MH17, my heart started to race and I felt shaky. When I read a brief update about the girls that were kidnapped in Nigeria, I felt pained that we've stopped talking about them.

Because that's how the news works. When there's a war or a disaster, our reporters flock there and they trample among the bodies and they pick through dead people's belongings and they film people bleeding to death in makeshift hospitals. And it's not necessarily their fault, because in a way we need to see it, and we want to see it, don't we? There's something in all of us that yearns to know more about it. Maybe to try and make sense of it. Maybe to try and connect with something that seems so huge and distant.

Then they go home. That, to me, is almost worse than the invasive footage. In a week or so, the reporters will return home. In a week or so we'll be talking about something else.

But there are still mothers missing their children.

There are, of course, many grieving people and the pain of losing someone, however they are connected to you, shouldn't really be measured in that way, but I have to admit, my mind goes straight to the mothers.

My heart goes to them.

I think of mothers missing their children after months and months of no action from the people that are supposed to protect them. Those schoolgirls have been missing for a long time, and we are forgetting them. Not so the parents that wait for them to come home.

It's too much, sometimes. Sometimes too much happens at once. I can see why people start to doubt God. Or become angry at Him. Because, why? What is the point of falling in love, or making the kind of friends that last a lifetime, or growing a person inside you and nourishing them for months, only to have them go off into a world where something horrible could happen to them at any time? Why are people killing each other and using His name as an excuse to do so?

I believe that we do things wrong, and that the world we live in is twisted and strange. But I believe that the capacity to love someone so much comes from God. The capacity to give everything for a person - to love someone so much that you would die for them - is a divine influence. We reflect God when we show love. And not just the fluffy, hand-holding wedding-day stuff. I also mean love at it's grittiest, love when it's the hardest thing to do. Love that involves making sacrifices and being hurt and putting them ahead of you even when you don't want to, even when they don't deserve it. And yes, loving them enough to let them go, even though the thought of losing them terrifies you down to the bone.

Love sometimes involves grief. Love sometimes means participating in grief, even when you don't have to. The thing is, we're all pretty lucky to live where we do, right? If you're reading from the UK, we have it pretty good compared to other places. And it's easy to slip into thinking that people from far-away places just don't matter as much. But they do. They do.

I could have turned the TV off and filled my head with nonsense on Friday. I wanted to. But instead I gave into it. I gave into the sorrow that comes from a deep place, a kind of internal capability to grieve, and I wept, and I think sometimes that's what we have to do. Sometimes when we're helpless to do anything else, just grieving with someone, even if they don't know you, is enough.

And I believe we have power. I believe that every single person has the power to make someone's life a little bit better. Even if you'll never meet that person. Even if you'll never know who it is that you're helping. I believe that prayer makes a difference, that real heartfelt prayers do change lives.

I also believe that giving helps. Even a little bit. Pennies. It means something, and even though you might not ever know whether it made a difference, I think it can, and I think it does.

That is the power that we have as individuals, and what an amazing privilege we have, to have a free life that we can choose to live with a purpose. And honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I believe that the ability to empathise, to grieve alongside, and to make a sacrifice to help someone else, however small a sacrifice it may be, reflects Someone who is grieving massively for us.

Time is ticking on. My head is starting to fill with fluff once more. My mind is on to-do lists again. I'm seeking noise to fill the uncomfortable quiet because, despite what this post might make me seem like, I am as weak as everyone else.

But I pray that this time when the news goes quiet and the cameras go home, that I'll still remember.

And I'll still pray.

risk

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My little baby is growing up.

In just under two months, she will be a year old. A year old! It feels like yesterday that I was wandering around the house as a sleep-deprived woman, in jogging bottoms with my hair sticking up in all directions, wondering when I would ever a) sleep again, b) find time to eat or c) not be in pain from having given birth. When I look back on it, I imagine us with the shell-shocked faces of new parents, an expression of amazed exhaustion that clearly says: what the heck happened? 

Our heads were full of numbers all the time, I remember. Of technicalities. What time she had last eaten, and how long she had been asleep, and how many ounces of milk she'd had that day, and how much she weighed now. It was all hours and pounds and ounces. We were so anxious because we were scared of getting something wrong.

Now ... now is different. I'm less anxious, that's for sure. To the point where I saw the baby crawl under the high chair today and pick up a rice cake she'd discarded previously and shove it in her mouth, and instead of thinking 'GERMS!' I thought, 'ah well, it's in there now.' My head is full of birthday plans and ideas for day trips, because Chris has booked time off work around her birthday. And then the looming thought of what is to come after that.

What is to come after that?

Her first birthday is a milestone in more ways than one, because I've said since I handed in my notice at work that we were comfortable with me staying at home until she turned one. Then I would start to think about finding part time work, a couple of days a week or something, so we were more 'comfortable', less 'surviving'.

People ask me sometimes, 'What are you going to do, then?' and I say 'Er, I dunno.' Because I honestly don't. Literally anything could happen. I am open for anything. It might be that I go back into childcare; it might be that I end up doing something completely different; it might end up that our circumstances change and I can officially retire from work for a while to be a stay at home Mum.

This is not like me. This happy, carefree, 'whatever happens, happens' attitude. And believe me, from the moment I thought 'Oh no, I'm going to have to quit my job' until a couple of months ago, I was worrying about this pretty much constantly. I hated having something so huge hovering over my head all the time. I knew we were comfortable now, but what happened if I couldn't find a job later? What happened if all the jobs disappeared between now and then? How will we make money? How will we cope? Etc. My head was constantly full of bills and worry and stress.

I don't know what's caused this massive relaxation to happen. Maybe it was the threat of having to move, which turned out to be nothing. I think I realised that I can't hold onto things so tightly all the time. I need to learn to appreciate what I have right now. What I am right now.

What I am right now is thriving.

I love being with my baby, and I'm aware that at any moment I could start a new job, so I feel extra need to appreciate it. So I am. Appreciating it.

But every now and then the possibility of what is to come seems so vast that I start to imagine it. What could I do? Where could I go? Where will I end up?

***

 So, our baby girl can crawl now.

She can crawl super-fast, too. She can also pull herself up on the furniture. She is very excited about this. I am excited too, although I'm less excited when I see her pulling herself up on the glass shelves of the TV stand (we really, really need to buy a baby-friendly TV stand). It doesn't help that our entire downstairs is hard flooring - either laminate or tiles, which looks nice but is not at all cruising-baby-friendly. I love watching her go, but my heart is in my mouth the whole time.

But she gets this look on her face. It's the look she preserves for the times when she's really going to stretch herself. Usually when she's reaching from one object to another so she can steady herself. You can see that she's appraising the situation - is it safe? Can I do this? - and then she suddenly gets this glint of wild abandon in her eyes and just launches herself forward.


Yes, that's an abandoned nappy that she's heading for, there. Whoops.

She doesn't have the fear that I do. Children need risk - it's how they learn what they're capable of. It's how they hone their skills, their physical and mental capabilities. They need to crawl, run, jump, and generally fling themselves around. It's in that playing that they can really try out new stuff, and in that trying out, that they either succeed and feel pleased with themselves, or fail and then try again until they get it.

So in short, risk is good. Risk is healthy. 

As an adult, I don't like risk so much.

I think we like to limit our risk-taking as much as possible (or at least, I do). I think the whole of modern existence is all about trying to eradicate risk as much as possible. We get good jobs with good prospects for career progression. We invest, we save, we stockpile. We check reviews of things before we buy them, and if something makes our lives a bit easier, we will usually buy it. We have insurance on ourselves, our houses, our mobile phones, our pets. Everything is about striving to be as comfortable as we can. We want extras just in case. We want back-up plans. We want everything to tick along the way it normally does.

I'm not saying that in a judgemental way. I want all that security too.

I'm thinking of trying something new at the moment, and honestly, making any decisions about it feels ... I dunno, life-changing, significant. Like I'm about to choose between cutting the red and the blue wire, with one decision leading to a safe happy future and the other leading to ruin and disaster. 

But really, that is ridiculous.

Here is what I believe about God, and taking risks, in a nutshell:

1) God sees all, knows all, and understands us. He does have good and perfect plans for us. He wants good things for us.

2) However, He does not force us to do what He thinks is best although that would be easier. Otherwise we wouldn't have free will. We have the freedom to make choices. God has given us the brains to make decisions ourselves. So then, we have to take risks sometimes (even though we'd quite like the plan to be laid out like a road map).

3) If you stick close to God, generally you won't go far wrong. Mistakes might be made, but if you are really striving to be near to Him, you are unlikely to make catastrophically awful decisions. 



So really, when I consider my beautiful daughter, gaining her independence, exploring the world, reaching out, stretching herself - not stopping to think 'I'm not good enough to do this', or 'other people can do this, not me' - I see a bit of an example for myself. Obviously I am an adult, and this whole 'risk taking' thing doesn't mean 'doing stupid things'. It means carefully considering choices, weighing options, but ultimately making a choice - and actually going for it.

Not stopping to think 'this isn't going to work, I'm not good enough to do this'. Just trying it.

If it doesn't work, the world won't end. The very worst thing is that I can take a bit of a tumble, and bruises don't last forever, right?

***
When I first went to bed tonight, laptop under my arm to write this post that has been irritating me for ages, I was thinking of the last meeting we had as a Bible study group before we split for the summer. Beth Moore was talking about serving our purpose while we are alive, and how sometimes all we do is worry about whether or not we're doing the right thing, whether we're missing some huge chunk of life that God had planned for us, whether we'll get to the end of our lives and think 'Oh no! I missed this thing that I was supposed to do'. And she turned to the camera, telling the audience (and the people watching it later on DVD) that she needed to tell some of us a particular message. She crouched down as if to look us full in the face, and said:

'Stop panicking!'

It made me smile at the time. Message received.

I peeped in on the baby. Fast asleep, hands behind her head as though sunbathing on a tropical beach somewhere far away. Little chubby legs crossed at the ankles. I prayed for her, as I do every night, as I did right from when she was born, when the fear of what might happen to her while I slept would overcome me. 'Please keep her safe. Please watch her for me while I'm asleep'. 

I trust God with her. And really, I trust Him with me. When I look back on my life so far, I can see Him like a golden thread weaving through the fabric, holding everything together. Even if I couldn't see it at the time, I can see it now. Really, the miraculous has already occurred. I am no longer the person I used to be. I have a hope and a future that goes beyond houses and rent payments and careers.

When I think about that, this 'big risk' doesn't seem so big after all.

***

 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8-9

7 quick takes #9 - hatred of teeth and loud noises

Friday, 11 July 2014

1.

So I had a toothache recently. The word 'toothache' doesn't really do it justice. 'Ache' implies that it hurts in a kind of background way, or at least to me. 'Tooth explosion' might be a better way of explaining it. Suddenly and without warning, on the eve of my birthday, it began. It got worse and worse to the point where I ended up in tears on the phone to an out of hours GP on Sunday evening, rocking bath and forth and clutching my face like I'd gone slightly mad.

I got onto that phone determined for better pain relief. I was prepared to beg, cry, and shout if necessary. Thankfully the doctor didn't make me and translated my horrible-pain-whine into 'please give me something to knock me out tonight'. So she did, and I am thankful yet again for the NHS, and for chemists that stay open until midnight.

Went to the dentist and she gravely informed me that the nerves in my tooth were dying. This has never happened to me before. I don't have particularly good teeth, but I guess they're not awful either - but whenever I've had something wrong with them (cavities, for example) it's usually heavily implied that it was my fault for not looking after them properly.

Not so with dying teeth. Sometimes they just die. At random.

2. 

On the scale of 1-10 of 'terrifying things that can happen at the dentist', I'd say the following constitutes at least a seven:

'Well, if it's okay with you, Megan, we'd like to try to drill without any anaesthetic.'

My facial expression was, I imagine, a bit like this:


Possibly sensing some anxiety on my part, my dentist explained that I shouldn't feel anything because the nerve had completely died, but if I felt any pain during the root canal, all I had to do was put my hand up and they'd give me anaesthetic.

I can't really explain the terror I felt when the drilling started and she got closer and closer to the tooth. One time I had a dream that a spider was crawling up my leg and I was having sleep paralysis (that's a whole other post right there). All I could do was watch the spider get closer and closer to my face, unable to move, cry out or do anything about it.

It was that level of terror.

Luckily, she was right and she proceeded to dig around my tooth with me unable to feel a single thing. It was literally amazing. I practically skipped out of the dentist (probably should have been worried about my dead tooth) having just had something quite major done with no pain or weird-numb-dribbly-face aftermath. Got in the car and told Chris all about it with this look of surprise on my face 'I just had my dying tooth scraped out from the inside but hey, it didn't hurt!'


Still obsessed with Community in case you wondered.

3.

I posted on Facebook a couple of days ago that I had Mumma Rage because of people being noisy and waking up my baby. I realise that I run the risk of sounding like one of those obnoxious mothers that expect the world to revolve around their child but - REALLY? Really, uncontrollable barking dog being let out in someone's garden at gone midnight? Really, car thumping bass outside our house at one in the morning? You can listen to music loud. GOOD FOR YOU.

I wouldn't be so grumpy about it, but I guard my baby's sleep time because it is literally precious. It is so rare at the moment for her to happily sleep through the night without needing the occasional cuddle, that when I do finally get to have a good stretch of sleep, anything that disturbs me from it awakens a rage in me I never knew existed.

Unfortunately my poor husband tends to get the brunt of my grumpiness.

'How wrong would it be for me to lean out the window and scream for someone to shut that dog up?' I asked as I brought baby into our bed for the third time that night.

Chris considered it. 'Probably quite wrong. And you know, it would make you look insane.'

He's right, obviously. Clearly I need an injection of grace to extend to other people. It's all well and good being loving and understanding towards people in the day, but at two in the morning when the roar of a lorry going by our house (at approximately two miles per hour, judging by how long it took for the noise to stop) it's much easier to hate all lorries, all lorry drivers, all shops for needing deliveries, and you know, everyone else.

I'll work on it.

4.

I have nearly finished my Bible study on David. I have loved learning about him - it has been an emotional journey through his life, and there are some staggeringly low and stupid moments, but some amazingly beautiful ones too. 

It reminded me again of a saying that I heard a while ago - 'God doesn't call the qualified - he qualifies the called.' David came a long way from being a little shepherd in a little town living a little life.

Having said that, he really screwed things up too. Sometimes I see Christians around me and I presume they have reached some higher level of Godliness that hasn't happened to me yet, and once they have 'levelled up' that far then they are immune to some of the temptations that us mere mortals face. I know that is totally theologically wrong, but sometimes I forget. Even King David got things wrong sometimes.

5.

I have mentioned this before, but I am a true geek, especially when it comes to stationary and diaries. Ten weeks ago when we got our new books, I bought it home and just enjoyed the newness of it. I liked the fact that all the answers were blank and the margins empty; I liked the new smell and the shiny look of the white pages. I was practically desperate to start drawing over it with highlighters and pens (it took about three weeks this time for me to fall behind, though. I am terrible for keeping to a schedule).

Now it looks like this:



Well loved.

Anyway, I am finding that doing Bible studies is a good way to keep me on track, so my friend Sarah and I may have gotten a bit overexcited and bought a new one to do together over the summer. This one is about the Psalms. 

So on Sunday I will have that 'new book' feeling all over again. I am one blissfully happy nerd.

6.

Speaking of blissfully happy nerds, I came home today to find this:



I had been out with my sister for three and a half hours and walking for approximately three of them, so I was desperate to have a shower before I opened it (by the way, how nice is the feeling of being clean after going out in the baking heat all afternoon? Very nice, is the answer to that). 

I knew what it was, though. It was this.

Really need to sort out this obsession with Community. But not before wearing my awesome new t-shirt.

7.

Went into the charity shop and was practically giddy with nostalgia:


I LOVED Old Bear when I was a kid. Loved it. I remember the theme tune too (well, the words aren't so clear. I remember it as 'bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, we'll all gather round, bla Old Bear') Also:


I mean come on.

We bought them for baby, not me. Obviously ;)

***

7 quick takes #8 - Frivolous Friday

Friday, 4 July 2014


1.

No idea what to write about today. It's the end of the day, and TV with my husband awaits (along with the normal battle to stay awake for more than five minutes). So here are a few frivolous things about today.

2.

Baby has pretty much mastered crawling now. Of course, this drove us into Babyproofing Mode. Unfortunately, baby sees the new safety measures (stairgate, plug socket covers) as shiny new things to explore, which sort of undoes the whole idea. Today she discovered standing up at the stairgate shaking it and screeching like a monkey in a cage. Apparently it is very fun indeed.

Also, she's discovered posting toys through the banisters. This is how I found Dolly earlier:



Peeping over the edge of doom.

3.

I had my hair chopped today as I had a bit of birthday money. By chopped I mean luxuriously washed whilst sitting in a massaging chair, then had all sorts of lovely conditioning goop put on it, before having it chopped and dried and straightened with their hotter-than-the-sun straighteners. I'm not really into getting massages or my nails done, but having my hair done in a salon = my ultimate girly treat.

Unfortunately I forgot the rule that everything that they recommend that you buy in a salon is insanely expensive, so foolishly asked how much the extra nice smelling conditioning goop cost, along with the extra-nice looking non-sticky-curling goop. £38! For two pots of hair stuff! I nearly fainted.

Clearly I am a hair scrooge. I managed a breezy 'oh, I'll leave those for now' as though I was totally cool with it and I wouldn't have to go without food to pay for it.

Anyway, it's a nice salon, and I had a lovely hairdresser, who was very apologetic when the heavens opened the moment she was finished with my nice shiny hair. I assured her it was my fault. It literally always rains when I get my hair done, no matter what time of the year, week, or day that I choose to do it.

4.

At the time of writing I am utterly obsessed with the TV show Community. It's come on Amazon Prime recently and we cannot. stop. watching it.



5.

I realised earlier we are now officially over halfway through the year. Where did that time go? It's made me have a little check up of my unofficial new years resolutions.

All I can say is - uh oh.

6.


This happened today.

Yes, that's a teddy bears picnic. Yes, my daughter had no idea what was going on.

BUT I DID! <3

7.

I made this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagne Soup today (except I put mince in it, so not vegetarian in any way really). I have to admit I was sceptical about ruining something as gloriously perfect as lasagne by slow cooking it, but it actually turned out pretty good.

Not as good as actual lasagne. But still good.


That's it! Seven frivolous things about Friday. Check out other 7 Quick Takes posts by lots of awesome bloggers, started by Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary.

this is where we dwell

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

You know it's been a good birthday when this is the result:


;) I have been massively spoilt, and I am very grateful for loving friends and family. I have read the Fault in Our Stars already; I enjoyed it, and I cried solidly for the last two or three chapters until the end (not beautiful movie-like tears, either, but the kind of tears that make you look all red and snort like a pig).

I also got an awesome book from my friend Claire, who knows me very well, called 365 Journal Writing Ideas. She added a note in my card 'I thought the book may give you some inspiration for your blog.'

I officially have no excuse for writers block!

This is a good thing. Writers block is really annoying, because I write for mental health more than anything. If I could describe my brain, it would be like a hideously messy office with filing cabinets spilling out papers everywhere. I can't keep my mind on one thing at a time. Writing is my way of sort of tidying things up so I can think straight. Does that make sense? I guess I'm a thinker, but that's not always a good thing. Not a lot of my thoughts are actually deep and meaningful (a lot of them involve food). I write to get some of it out of the way.

The scary thing is, people describe my daughter as a 'thinker', and she's just shy of ten months old. I think it's the way she sits back and observes things with this kind of serious look on her face. The amount of times I've heard 'she's a thinker, that girl' is mounting up quite nicely.

I hope she finds an outlet for it.

Anyway, I decided to use Claire's present straight away by trying to find a prompt that I could write a blog about. I found this:



I started to think along the lines of the most exciting and memorable moments so far. The moments that give you butterflies. Like standing outside the church before our wedding, or sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off, or sitting by a rock pool gazing over at the most stunningly beautiful sunset, surrounded by friends. Those sort of moments.

Those are good. And beautiful.

But I've also been thinking a lot about our home.



A few weeks ago, our landlord put our house up for sale. It was an uncertain time, but luckily it lasted for an astonishingly short three days before it sold, to another landlord, who wants us to stay. In those three days, I would describe how I felt as - rightly or wrongly - ludicrously stressed. I like to think I'm immune to this sort of thing as my parents have always rented and we've been in this situation before, but the truth is, I just let it completely take over me. My problem engulfed everything else. In that short space of time I cried, I whined, I sulked, I wallowed, I got angry. The thought that we might have to leave brought up a whole load of issues I have that are to do with attainment and insecurity and entitlement and comparison and competitiveness ... I won't go into the whole ugly thing, but you get the idea. A lot of my prayers were along the lines of 'HOW COME EVERYONE ELSE OWNS THEIR HOUSE?!'

Not my proudest moment. I couldn't blog about it either, even after I'd realised how silly I was being, because everything I wrote sounded kind of whiny and self-pitying.



Anyway, I've been humbled quite nicely over the past few weeks, and the full weight of how selfish I can be weighed on me quite heavily. Sometimes when I need to be corrected - even though I know I am forgiven - it really hurts. Stripping away of pride really hurts. And I regret it. I regret my whiny, selfish prayers, especially when there are people around me going through a whole world of pain and are having crippling money problems, health stuff, etc - you know, real problems.

Not that it's wrong for me to have (or care about) smaller problems. Just that it's wrong for me to make them bigger in my head.

So over the past few weeks I've been praying about and reflecting on what it is that makes home home. I started to take photographs of it, and I am drawn to things that are like chaos. Toys on the floor. Books piled up by the bed. Shoes jumbled by the door. Necklaces tangled up. Piles of paperwork waiting to be sorted. Food on the floor under the high chair. The buggy left haphazard in the hallway (sometimes with a baby sleeping in it). Messes, I guess. Messes that are ongoing and active and fresh.






Because they show signs of life.

That's what makes my home, home, and it would be the same no matter where we live. The truth is, although it's reasonable and normal to become attached in a sentimental way to a building, it's what's inside that counts - and by that I don't mean the amount of gadgets we own or beautiful ornaments we have. It's those new, fresh, active little chaotic bits - it's those that show signs of life. It's like evidence. Evidence that life is happening here. That my family are here. That this is where we all dwell.


It shows that we are alive.

And I guess that puts it all in perspective again. That really, it's not about having a mortgage or new sofas or nice things. What makes me feel alive is being around the people I love the most. And my home might facilitate that, but it's very much portable. That togetherness feeling of home can move wherever it needs to go, and it's not anchored by what everyone else around me might have. And the days that I forget to wake up and thank God for that - and for family, and for friends, and for Him - are days wasted.

So today, that's my answer. What makes me feel alive (amongst other things) is being here, in my beautifully imperfect, sometimes chaotic, wonderful home. Seeing the people I love. Cleaning up our everyday mess with the knowledge that I am blessed indeed to have them.


Blessed indeed.
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