Friday, 30 April 2010

When Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.
Exodus 13, V 17.

I sometimes feel that life should be easier. Not that it's always a struggle, but sometimes even the little things can be, like making sure the dishes are done and there are clean clothes for us all to wear. I know that my small problems fade to grey when compared to the enormity of some lives lived (and cut short), but I also know this knowledge doesn't always make it easier to get past my circumstances.

Exodus states that God wanted to challenge the Israelites - if He made it easy for them, it would not be worthwhile. Despite all this, they kept ignoring the word of God. (Our Children's Bible is almost hilarious on this; every new 'story' for about a month began, 'but then the Israelites forgot what God had taught them'....)

It's not that I think that God's plans for me are deliberately awkward though; it's more accepting that life is not straightforward: there will always be hiccups in the road, understanding why things happen is always going to be tricky, and the route to our personal, spiritual Promised Land is going to twist and turn. But these are the places where we learn the most, where we are pushed outside of our comfort zones, and learn how to bring more to ourselves, and to others.

I don't mean any of this 'if it was easy, we wouldn't appreciate it' stuff or 'whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger'. I'm talking about lifepaths that may not always go the way we want or expect them to, times when we realise we need to relinquish control about our issues, and let things unfold around us. I trust God to lead me there in the end, and to teach me a few key points along the way. But sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in making sure things go 'as planned'. Panicking about the future and trying to make too many decisions in a day are things that sometimes need to be let go (and I don't mean "how much junk food will I allow myself today".)

Everyone surely has a moment where they are derailed from the beaten path, finding themselves on a road they didn't mean to explore. This happens literally, when we take a wrong turning on the way to a holiday destination and end up experiencing some wonderful aspect of nature or particularly entertaining human sight. I have never particularly enjoyed venturing into unknown areas, but I know their importance, and what I will miss if I don't go there.

There is no need for fear or resistance, I just need to follow where I am being led.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Nearly the End of April

Inspired by Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window: A beautiful day. My favourite thing at the moment is walking the kids to school in the sunshine, past the blossomy trees. It makes me want to give so much thanks for the world around us!

Thoughts: Food, at the moment. It's great I'm able to satisfy my chilli-tastic cravings at the moment, and calm the heartburn with medication. But, considering I'm not getting that much exercise, I'm trying NOT to shove too much unhealthy food down me.

Thanksgiving: For getting through the small things. For repaired relationships with people. For the support and love of others.

Kitchen goings-on: Anything spicy, as previously mentioned! Stirred Tabasco & chopped jalapenos into my father in law's chilli con carne just to get a kick :-) Brilliantly, rhubarb and strawberries are in season here - I hope to get Imogen (my nearly-4 year old) to help me make a crumble this afternoon, after we've prepped the pizza toppings for tonight's dinner.

Reading: Not much. Well, a fair bit actually, on the doctrine of the death of Christ, but it's hard work and my essay is still not done. I've missed my Bible, and 2 Corinthians really spoke to me today. I've got the last Twilight tome to plough through, but not until I've finished my essay!

To father in law and husband as they bring patio stones a friend has kindly given us, into the back yard/garden.

Wearing: My maternity jeans. Finally! (Only staying up with the aid of my Promedics pelvic belt, mind you.) (Mine's not as big as the one in the photo, and I am so thankful I have it, however dreadful it looks.) I seem to be almost attractive in the jeans. And the baby bump looks huge in them!

Around the house: Unbelievably, we now have the loft insulated, boarded, lit and accessible so that, when we have any spare time whatsoever this side of August, we can store things there. The sink units are here, and just need setting up next week when the plumber comes. We have a reading & feeding chair for the 'nursery' (where the 2 girls sleep, and baby will too eventually). All this sorted in a matter of weeks. Yay!

A Favourite Thing:
Need I say? Jalapenos. On tortilla chips with melted cheese and soured cream and salsa and guacamole. On pizza. On toast....

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Little House on the Main Road

My family know what a huge fan I am of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series. I love them for lots of reasons - their sweetness, their simpleness, their faith - and truly hope that one day we will take a road trip en famille and do the Laura tour. (It strikes me that my husband and I were last in the US in 2001, exploring California-Arizona-Utah-Nevada - oh, and Hawaii! - for our honeymoon.)

But for the last couple of days I've been thinking of Ma & her coping strategies.

Now, (in what we know is a sanitised version of life on the prairie), Laura always 'bigs up' Ma and commends her patience, routines, love for her children and constant plodding on in the face of adversity. In the books we see famine, exceptionally harsh winter weather, serious illnesses and more challenges than we in the developed world see in contemporary life. But I've been thinking about what is omitted from the books. We don't see the diaper buckets, the outside privy or the sanitary towels. We don't hear about the hormones in a family of many females, the baby boy whose life was cut short, the severe hunger pains. The challenges Ma faced were more than Laura reveals in her writing. And, possibly, the portrait of Ma realised in the books is a little airbrushed.

But it may not be. Ma may just have kept on in those times and held her family to her because although times were hard, she didn't have any of the (post)modern pressures we face. Dance, sports and music groups, playdates, computers. Worrying about what to choose to feed her children (organic? fair trade? free range?) rather than hoping there is something to eat. Avoiding the breast versus bottle debate. Always facing the potential of being judged rather than supported by other mothers who do things differently. Diverted and distracted by Blackberry or I-Phone. Facing worry, stress or guilt about their role as mother, wife or career-woman. Ma just got on with it, with whatever resources she had, even though she was pushed to the limit. There was no other way.

This is one of the reasons I love those books. Although they may not include everything that happened, they are based around the philosophy of a simpler time where things played out slowly, in relation to the seasons, in relation to what was possible. With a ready-made family of siblings, Ma didn't rely on organising playdates or extracurricular activities - the family could just be. Pa filled the house with music, there was reading and religion, and although the girls followed fashion to an extent, the world was still moving at a slow speed. Yes, we are now more medically advanced and have a 'better' quality of life with more choices for women, but we have lost something along the way, something Little House can remind us of. We can take little snippets and incorporate them into our lives. Eating together as a family. Experiencing the outdoors as often as we can. Not pushing ourselves to be everything to everyone, but helping out where we can, as and when we can. Living for and in the moment. Retaining that sense of adventure that accompanied pioneer life. Not being tied down by a dwelling or possessions.

In the UK we are in the process of electing a Prime Minister and a governing party (or parties!) and I feel detached from the whole process, as if none of the potential candidates understand the way I perceive the world. I know her world is old-fashioned and quaint, has no gun control and tramples over the rights of Amerindians, but at the same time I feel that Laura would understand the things I cherish, and understand why motherhood is my primary focus. God bless you Laura Ingalls!

Friday, 16 April 2010

An April Kind of Day Book*

Outside my window: Sunny, wonderful, lovely spring, Easter weather. Is it still Easter? Of course it is! Our arts & crafts wall (indoors) is still Easter-themed. We're still celebrating!

Thoughts: Kids, dinner, the Playstation 3 that has finally appeared in our house.

Thanksgiving: For all the beautiful wonders of creation, for an understanding God, a wonderful family, and the way He brings people together.

Kitchen goings-on: Fish pie tonight. Cakes have been good recently - the River Cottage pear cake was pleasantly surprising. Which reminds me, I need icing sugar for the orange cake. We're making ginger cake tomorrow morning.

Reading: Someone passed me the Twilight tetralogy. So, even though I'm not enjoying it very much, that and the Bible are pretty much my only reading at the moment.

Listening: The hum of my computer, at the moment. Radio 6 Music in the kitchen, soon. Our concert of American and Russian music, tomorrow night! (if I survive afternoon rehearsal and staying out through dinner & kids bath & bedtime....)

Wearing: Clothes that aren't maternity clothes as such, but I can just about squeeze into. They don't go that well together, but they fit!

Around the house: Everything is DIY-tastic. Our green/glasshouse has been dismantled, our kitchen is getting changed, and so on. I'm so happy to progress things before the next baby comes.

A Favourite Thing: Getting into a warm swimming pool and managing to swim & workout in the water without feeling it in my pelvis or any surrounding area - wow, those endorphins!

*Inspired by Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter!

"And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here."
-- St. Augustine

Happy Easter! Praise the Lord!

It feels like it's been ages in the waiting - our simple and thoughtful Lent was mostly wonderful but by Holy Week, if it hadn't have been for a beautiful performance of Bach's St John's Passion, I was almost all wiped out due to a barrage of portrayals of the crucifixion (I didn't mind so much standing on the dais sharing the Palm Sunday Passion reading while my husband smuggled my children out of Church to ensure quiet, but there was no way I could find spirituality in a viewing of The Passion of the Christ).

(And, apparently for some people we know Easter apparently started last Thursday, and mainly means shopping, but I won't rant about that here, I've done enough of that at home.)

In our household we're looking forward to Easter Breakfast, gifts, Church & much chocolate (in that order....I HOPE.....)

Breakfast this year includes a special Italian Colomba (cake shaped like a dove)...

We have family coming over later for simnel cake, various chocolate Easter cakes, & mugs of tea & coffee (yesterday the girls and I made chocolate nests with shredded wheat, milk chocolate and mini eggs.) Yum!

Tomorrow friends and their children are coming,we're roasting a chicken and cooking a joint of spiced beef in the crock pot, making dauphinoise potatoes, and serving green beans. Antipasti is happening - salami, proscuitto, fresh mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, rocket, parmesan, olives.

Hmm, I think I'd better go and grab some toast before the day begins - I am slightly obsessing over the food, aren't I! (As the kids would no doubt repeat back to me, "Easter's not about chocolate, Mummy, it's all about JESUS.")

Anyway, that's my message today. Easter, Jesus, food, family & friends. I hope you have all this too. Happy Easter! ENJOY.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
-- John 3:16 NIV

Thursday, 1 April 2010

It's a....?????

We saw it coming a mile away. The sonographer said, "I've actually never seen anything like it." Baby #3 had his/her legs tucked up so we had no way of telling whether s/he's going to be a boy or a girl. Funnily enough, our previous 2 children behaved the same way at 20 weeks. We're in no hurry to find out, really. But I do wonder - does the fact that baby in utero did this mean it's a girl like the other two? Or is it, as the sonographer mentioned, and I hadn't thought of before, due to the shape of my uterus?

Either way, we are definitely boarding up the loft so I can accept gifts of any hand-me-down boy clothes that come my way!

And baby is developing healthily. Which is really the key thing at this stage!! I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed after being pummelled during the sonogram & the reality of everything coming into focus. We had a delightful visit from our week-old nephew yesterday which certainly reminded us what it is like with a newborn. And I'm still slowly getting my head around the recommendation to get myself sterilised after this so as not to have to undergo a fourth C-section...

Mind you what's currently on my mind is how come I am unable to scan the sonogram photo... (Hmm...solved that one with a little help...)