It gets harder…

It’s always a sign that things aren’t going well when the baby steps you take get even harder. Foetus steps isn’t a phrase and there’s a good reason for that! Marathons get harder and feel longer when you slow up.

Things took a turn for the worse in our house recently. It was pretty grim. It ended with a GP’s visit, a hospital appointment and a hospital bed. We found out a couple of days ago that if we hadn’t gone through the GP and had a hospital appointment, I would have been put onto a 5 week long waiting list. God never ceases to amaze.

And yet it makes me so ashamed that when God was sorting out my not having to wait for 5 weeks, I was complaining. ‘God, why am I so ill? What is this? Can’t we just have a year of marriage when things go smoothly? Ok, 3 months? Even better, just take CF away, Lord. I don’t want it. It’s not fair, surely you can see that.’ I’m called to trust in the small things and so often I’m blind and so often I’m ungrateful.

This little bout of illness has done two things, taken me into two phases.
The first is the realisation that life will never again be easy. I used to think it was. But I’m older now, a tiny bit wiser. And I know. I know when things aren’t going well. I know when life gets harder.
The second is the realisation that life will never be as wonderful as what’s coming. I watch people having babies and it hurts. Look at the King, Ruth. Look at his Glorious Kingdom. That’s where you’re going. Now go and have fun playing with the baby. I watch people playing sports and having fun and it hurts. Look at the King, Ruth. Look at his Glorious Kingdom. That’s where you’re going. Now go and have fun being a cheerleader. I watch people advancing in careers and it hurts. Look at the King, Ruth. Look at his Glorious Kingdom. That’s where you’re going. Now go and have fun listening to people’s stories and encouraging them.

There’s a reason we’re told that God does all things for our good. It’s because it’s true. And in tiny ways I’m being allowed to see this truth. Come and look through the cracks in life with me. Light seems brightest when it’s shining through a small crack. Walk into its glare and you’re dazzled. Better yet, sit down in the ray and bask in the warmth and light of our Father’s choices for us.

There’s a lot I can’t do. I can’t run, some days walking is hard. But I will outrun my illness. For now I can run metaphorically into the arms of my Saviour. I look forward to the day when I will physically run into Glory taking deep gulps of breath. And maybe even yell ‘Hooray!’ at the same time.

On housewives, birds and life

A housewife’s work is never done, so they say. I would like to tell them that that isn’t the end of the story. A quick, smart sentence summing things up. Or so they think. But surely they’ve missed the second part of the sentence: ‘And that’s what makes it beautiful.’
I get so many chances at life. One pink wash makes me better, one wrongly bleached surface makes me better, one burnt meal makes me better. And I get to wash and clean and cook again. I get to work hard at beautiful things and I don’t even have to leave the house to do it.
Sure, it feels small. And, sure, in one way it is small. But doesn’t God himself tell us that if we are faithful in the small things we will be entrusted with big things? Every time I wash, every time I clean, every time I cook, I make baby steps forward, I cover tiny pieces of ground. And those baby steps, those tiny bits of ground matter. They are the building blocks for bigger things.

A tiny, brown bird hops along the wall outside my window. His head is tilted, his gleaming black eyes watching. I stay as still as I can and stare at him. He stops hopping and stares back. Here we are, two creatures observing each other. With a flick of his tail and a flutter of wings, he disappears. Where to? I don’t know. It’s Spring. Perhaps he has a nest to feather, a worm to take back to his family. He has his song to sing. So different and yet so similar to mine.
Experts estimate that there are 100 billion birds on this planet. All singing their songs. And 7 billion people. All singing theirs.

And so it continues. Life, with its seemingly random pattern. Twisting, jumping, flying, diving, soaring. You can’t predict the ups and downs. You know they’re coming but, like a rollercoaster, your stomach still does roly polys in both the steep climbs and the sheer drops. Patterns, colours, textures, noises all whiz by. You strain your ears to hear, stretch out your hand to touch, open your eyes to see but only manage to hear, touch and see a tiny part of the Glory that has gone before. And it’s gone. At the speed of light. Or perhaps even faster. And all you’re left with is the lingering last moment before the light goes out.

But that seems defeatist. And no one wants to be defeatist. At least, not anyone who truly wants to live. Life tastes good. Life sounds good. Life looks good. Life feels good. There are flowers and cakes, cups of tea and comfy armchairs, good books and clever sitcoms, people to talk to and children to play with, beds to fall into when you’re tired and beds to fall into when you’re in love, the smell of roast beef and the taste of roast potatoes, snowflakes and sunshine. And the list goes on. You have your list and I have mine. Our lists might have the same things on them. They might be different. But they are both celebrations of Life, glimpses of Glory, lyrics of the Song, brush strokes on the Picture. And for that I’m grateful.

6 months.

New world, new people, new purposes. A lot changed six months ago as we said ‘I will.’ 2 little words changed us, changed our lives, changed our identities. And it’s a lot to get to grips with. Six months in, I still haven’t got it. Maybe it’s because I’m a slow learner, I’ll be the first to admit that. Maybe it’s because these changes are hard. Or maybe it’s because these changes never really stop still, never give you a minute to get used to them.

There have been hard changes. I always knew that would happen. I sat in a hospital room with a wall between me and my husband. A wall of physical pain and emotional pain with the question Why? written all over it in capital letters. I watched relationships change and knew that I’d never be able to get the old ones back. I had my daily schedule interrupted, my habits questioned and my property shared. Petty, perhaps, but still harder than you might think.

But I’ve tasted goodness in new ways. God pronounced his creation to be very good. And so do I. This thing works. We’re still babies. We can’t colour in the lines. We can’t look after ourselves. We can’t even walk without falling over. But we’re growing. We’ll never get there, whatever ‘there’ might be, but we’re noticing the growing and that counts. I believe in God’s grace now more than ever. I understand Jesus’s death now more than ever. I feel the Spirit working now more than ever. In just six months.

It’s funny how you think you know what’s coming and yet what actually comes is so different and so much more glorious than you thought. It’s funny how small our minds are. I’ve been given a glimpse of something more and something greater. I’m living this bride thing in a more tangible way than I was. And the beauty of it scares me. How can I do this? This bright, beautiful, wonderful, pure thing? And yet the very one who asks me to be his bride helps me to become his bride. I see love lived out in front of me and it helps me become lovely. I see purity lived out in front of me and it helps me become pure. I see strength and kindness and laughter and weeping and prayer and in those things I am changed.

It is a new world. I have a new calling. I’m to be a new person. I have a new person to die for and a new one to live for. I’m to breath a new breath of life and live it out. Here I am.

Thank you, David.
I love you.

Renewing my mind, tiny bit by tiny bit.

Count your blessings. It’s a phrase and an idea that’s been around for a long time. It’s associated with Christians or with so called old-fashioned values. I guess that puts rather a stigma on it but in reality it’s one of the best things a person can do.
I recently started reading a book called One Thousand Gifts. I’m not very far through it yet but it’s autobiographical in tone and in it the author has just started a list of one thousand things she’s thankful for. One thousand gifts. Most of them are so simple. But in reading the book I’ve found myself noticing more things as gifts. And by noticing, I’m crediting someone. I’m being thankful for those gifts.

I’ve been having trouble with the internet connection to my laptop but yesterday and today it has worked perfectly. I often take these sorts of things for granted by actually speedy internet connection is a gift.
As is the smell of my new scented candle.
And the look of the room after I’ve just tidied it.
The crumbly, tasty crust of the freshly baked bread I bought today.
The centimetre my amaryllis has grown in the last two days.
The gentle ticking of the clock in the corner.
The stars shining brightly in the dark sky.
The smell and shine of furniture polish.
The worn leather binding on my copy of Jane Eyre.
The ping of my phone as I receive a text.

See, I’ve done it. It’s very easy. It’s just takes a little time to think and a desire to be thankful and you have a whole new way of looking at the world. I like my world this way. I pronounce it to be good. Because this way, the good outweighs the bad and you notice it. If I just stick to noticing the big things then it doesn’t feel so happy. I don’t like the big, scary things of illness and not having a job and not knowing where my life’s going to go and feeling scared. But if there’s a hundred, a thousand, a million little good things in between the big bad ones, I want to start noticing them. Because I like to live in a world that is good. A world that is blessed. A world that is given to me. A world created by a God who loves His children.

So, Ruth, this is what you need to do. Take notice. And give thanks. For every tiny bit.